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Professor David S. Cohen Questions High Court’s Women’s Health Care Rulings on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry

Professor David S. Cohen

July 07, 2014

Professor David S. Cohen commented on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decisions excusing nonprofit religious institutions from complying with the Affordable Care Act’s  (ACA) contraceptive health care requirement on the July 6 Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC. 

The court’s decision involving Wheaton College, a Christian nonprofit religious institution in Illinois which sought to avoid complying with ACA’s requirement that institutions provide contraceptive health care coverage to female employees “shows the court as a political biased institution,” Cohen argued. 

In the case, the court decided that Wheaton did not have to submit a government form to be excused from the contraceptive requirement but could instead write a letter requesting exemption on the basis that filling out the form violated Wheaton’s religious freedom, Cohen explained.  Cohen said such a decision, when compared to the court’s Hobby Lobby decision just a few days earlier, compromises the court’s integrity because the court in Hobby Lobby found that not-for-profit institutions can be exempt from the contraceptive requirement if they submitted the very same form at issue in Wheaton.  By issuing contradictory findings just a few days apart, the court is “showing its cards” as “a political right-wing institution,” he said. 

In a later segment on the show, Cohen commented that decisions like Wheaton, Hobby Lobby and those involving abortion clinic buffer zones, show that “the court prefers some people’s freedom and some people’s rights over others.”  In all of these cases “the court ignores the lived experiences of women, particularly poor women and particularly women of color, the court ignores the importance of contraception to women’s health, the court ignores that contraception is not cheap if you are a low-wage earner in this country [and ignores] the experiences of real women who have real issues in their lives . . . that they need healthcare,” Cohen concluded.