Midwest Voices

July 4, 2014

Aimee Patton: Supreme Court ruling in Hobby Lobby case should make people mad enough to vote

I tweeted four-letter words expressing my unhappiness at the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling. So what can I do? What can you do? What could we all do if we thought the decision was wrong? Use another four-letter word that does matter — vote.

When I heard the Hobby Lobby ruling that the Supreme Court handed down on Monday, my reaction was a few choice four-letter words.

The Supreme Court in a close decision sided with Hobby Lobby, saying that closely held companies do not have to cover certain types of contraception mandated by the Affordable Care Act if the companies thought it violated their religious freedom.

I yelled my colorful four-letter words loud enough that you probably could hear them in Washington, D.C.

I tweeted four-letter words expressing my unhappiness. I’ll admit, swearing made me feel better for the moment. But then I realized swearing changed nothing.

So what can I do? What can you do? What could we all do if we thought the decision was wrong? Use another four-letter word that does matter — vote.

You might be thinking, “What difference does voting make if Supreme Court justices are selected for life?”

It makes a big difference. Some of our Supreme Court Justices have been on the bench since the Reagan administration. Think about that for a moment.

That’s back before the Internet. Court decisions then were faxed. Supreme Court justices may be in for life, but you never know when they are going to get tuckered out and hang up their black robes for good. When they do, we need the right person in office to pick a moderate justice for the bench. This is something that doesn’t just affect the nation for years but for decades.

I can’t say it enough — you need to vote.

Reason No. 2 why voting is so important: The federal government funds a program in this country called Title X Family Planning. This program is more than 40 years old.

Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. The Title X program is designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies, and information to all who want and need them.

Let’s be frank. The ruling by the Supreme Court was a blow to women’s health care, but programs like Title X can make up the difference.

Employers may not be constitutionally obligated to provide contraceptive coverage, but the federal government can and does successfully.

However, like clockwork, conservative Republicans attempt to defund the Title X program whenever they have the opportunity. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen. Women in this country are depending on us.

How can we do that?

Easy — it’s back to that four-letter word. Vote in every election. No excuses. I don't want to hear that it was too cold or it was raining or you couldn't get away from work. Find a way to get there. Make it happen.

Vote for candidates who pledge to support women’s comprehensive health coverage. Vote for candidates who will continue to support Title X.

Send the message in the next election that the Supreme Court may have sided with employers’ religious rights but that American people believe that women also have rights that need to be respected and that those rights matter.

Swear if it makes you feel better, but you can make a bigger difference and affect change with action.

In the end it all comes down to the four-letter word that really matters — Vote.

Aimee Patton of Fairway works in marketing. Reach her at oped@kcstar.com.

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