From AU's Wall of Separation blog:
For three days, senators and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have dominated the spotlight at Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. Today, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee get the opportunity to hear directly from the people about what’s at stake with Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Among today’s witnesses is Alicia Baker, a young woman from Indiana who shares the concerns of millions of women who could be harmed by Kavanaugh’s hostile view of church-state separation and reproductive rights.
Alicia is a seminary graduate and ordained minister who works in a neighborhood center in Indianapolis. But a year ago she was working for a church whose insurance provider didn’t cover some forms of birth control in its health insurance plans because of religious objections.
As she explained in a recent op-ed in USA Today, Alicia didn’t learn of her insurance provider’s objections until she and her fiancé, Josh, were hit with an unexpected bill for $1,200 for an IUD her insurance company refused to cover.
“Instead of finalizing last-minute details in the days leading up to our wedding, I was fighting with my insurance company,” she wrote. “Because while I believed—and still believe—that no insurance company or employer should get to decide what’s best for my health, this wasn’t just about the principle. It was also about our family’s financial security. Because we were paying for our student loans and trying to save up for a down payment on a home, the unexpected bill caused us a lot of anxiety.”
When the Trump administration announced new rules last fall that would allow employers and universities to cite religion to deny employees and students health insurance coverage for birth control, Alicia decided to fight the unconstitutional, discriminatory rules. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) were proud to represent her in a federal lawsuit.
A few months later Alicia got a new job with insurance coverage that included birth control and we decided to end the lawsuit. But the experience highlighted for Alicia that women across the country face imminent threats to their ability to access birth control – which is vital for their health and equality—because of their employers’ or insurance companies’ religious beliefs.
As a federal appeals court judge, Kavanaugh indicated he would have permitted employers to use religious beliefs to obstruct women’s access to birth control. His view was far from mainstream—his opinion was at odds with the opinions of eight of the nine federal appeals courts that heard similar challenges. That’s alarming since there’s a strong chance the Trump administration’s new rules will come before the Supreme Court; several lawsuits have been filed to challenge them, including Irish 4 Reproductive Health v. Department of Health and Human Services, which was filed in late June by Americans United and our allies.
“Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the bench would shift the balance of the Supreme Court against women’s right to birth control at a time when pivotal cases concerning it will come before the court,” Alicia wrote. “Because I’ve experienced firsthand what it’s like to struggle to afford the birth control my family needed, I know how important it is to make sure Judge Kavanaugh isn’t given the chance to sit on the Supreme Court.”
Because of harmful impact that Judge Kavanaugh would have on the health and well-being of so many people, Alicia is calling on the Senate to block the confirmation of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. We urge you to join her - contact your senators and tell them to vote “no” on Kavanaugh. He’s wrong on church-state separation, and wrong for the Supreme Court. Religious freedom is on the line.