Why The SCOTUS Hobby Lobby Decision Matters for Youth

By Erin McKelle and Gloria Malone

You probably have heard about the recent Supreme Court case involving craft retailer Hobby Lobby (Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby),which now allows employers to deny people contraceptive coverage based on their own religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby owners believed that Plan B, Ella, and IUD’s caused abortion (despite medical science stating otherwise) and because of their ideology, were morally opposed to providing these types of contraception to their employees. Since they were victorious, they are now legally allowed to not provide their employee’s coverage for these types of contraceptives, which could leave 18,000 employees without access.

The ACA had previously mandated that contraceptives be covered by all types of insurance employers provided. So effectively, if your employer is morally opposed to covering contraception, they could choose not to cover its costs. Because the Supreme Court sets the precedent for the lower courts, this could put all types of contraceptive coverage for all women and those in the trans* community who need it, in jeopardy.


How This Affects Young People

This decision affects young people for several different reasons in several different ways. Youth who are on their parent’s health care plans have the potential to begin feeling the effects of this ruling almost immediately. For youth who are fortunate enough to have parents that are employed in  businesses that offer health care insurance and parents who openly discuss sexual health birth control options with them their way in which to obtain birth control was just taking from them.

Youth who are not privileged enough to have the two above things, and longed for the day that they would be able to obtain employment with a business that offered health care coverage are left with even more limited means of accessing the birth control they need and want.

Feelings of disenfranchisement compounded with the lack decision making power because of their age, inability to vote, and social-economic status all have the ability to leave lifelong negative implications in a young person’s life when it comes to their sexual health decisions and sexual health outlook over their lives.

What is Already Being Done

Those who disagree with the high court’s decision have taken multiple channels to express their frustration and fight back against the decision. Local, national, virtual, and physical protests are taking place.

ThinkProgressHobbyLobbyProtest and rallies in states across the country are taking place. From organized protest from the various chapters of WORD, to rallies outside of local city halls as in Boston, and the large protest outside of a grand opening of a Hobby Lobby in Burbank, California people are highly upset with the Supreme Courts’ decision.

Almost immediately after the decision the hashtag #WomenDissent was created on Twitter and spread across various social media platforms as a way to collectively express  emotional, political, and ideological one’s reactions to the Supreme Court decision.

A member of clergy even went to a Hobby Lobby location and handed out free condoms out front of the business.

What You Can Do

1) Organize: Start conversations on social media and/or in your community about this ruling. The best way to help fuel activism is by getting as many people as you can on your side. Explain to others what this ruling means and how it could affect them. You could get others to commit to boycott Hobby Lobby, gather a list of contraceptive-friendly employers in your area, or even take to Twitter or blogging to help this issue gain momentum.

2) Tell Hobby Lobby You Won’t Be Supporting Them: Write to them directly or contact them via social media to let them know that because of their refusal to provide contraceptive access, you won’t be shopping at their stores and will make sure to let your social networks know to do the same (if you have a large following, this would be a good time to emphasize it). You can also use the hashtag #bc4us to join in on the conversation of the importance of birth control with the folks of URGE (formerly known as Choice USA).

3) Tell your friends and family: Talk to other people in your life as to why this decision is affecting you, them, and will affect the future of body autonomy for many across the country and the globe. The more people that know the more that can raise their voices in opposition to the ruling. Also, find local clinics that offer low cost contraceptive options and text them out to family and friends, or post them on social media. You can also use clinic locators like this one to find locations near you.

4) Organize informative meetings: Now more than ever young people need access to information and sexual health services. Arrange a get together at your school, church, and anywhere else you can think of that will allow for an honest and medically accurate conversation about how and where young people in your community can access affordable birth control options.

5) Learn Something New!: Educate yourself about the importance of protecting contraceptive coverage access with this comprehensive document from Advocates for Youth and this blog post from URGE  which argues that this court decision will further the oppression of women.

6)  Share this article to educate and inspire others to take action!

This ruling could have potentially devastating effects on young people’s ability to make their own health care decisions. It’s already affecting the more than 18,000 employees of Hobby Lobby and could potentially affect yours, too.

By taking action against this ruling, we can amplify our voices and tell America that we support every person’s right to make their own decisions about their bodies. The time to act is now.

Erin McKelle youth leaderErin Mckelle (@ErinMcKelle) is a member of YTH’s Youth Advisory Board. She is an e-activist, video blogger, student, and nonprofit advocate. A fierce feminist, she has launched several projects, including the Fearless Feminism blog and the Consent is Sexy video series about healthy sexuality. Erin is attending Ohio University as a women’s studies major. +Learn more about Erin



Gloria Malone photo

Gloria Malone (@GloriaMalone) is a member of YTH’s Youth Advisory Board. She’s a freelance writer and former teenage mother who advocates for the rights of pregnant and parenting teens. Gloria created Teen Mom NYC—a blog for teen moms by a teen mom. She lives in New York City with her daughter and is a senior at Baruch College. +Learn more about Gloria


Images by Planned Parenthood and ThinkProgress . 


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