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Shaheen speaks at roundtable on Hobby Lobby court decision

As a local business owner, Jane Valliere said she’s in charge of plenty of things: marketing, management and establishing the menus for her restaurant, Hermanos Cocina Mexicana in Concord. Whether her employees can choose to use contraceptives is not one of those things, she said at a roundtable organized by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen to discuss the implications of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be in charge of telling women what to do with their bodies,” said Valliere, who hosted the roundtable at her restaurant yesterday morning. “It’s astounding to me, nothing that I’ve ever really comprehended. It’s not for me to decide – it’s not for any employer to decide.”

Valliere and others at yesterday’s discussion – a mix of past and present state lawmakers, along with representatives from NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire and the Women’s Fund of New Hampshire – condemned the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on contraceptive access and criticized New Hampshire Republicans’ support for the decision.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court ruled that the owners of Hobby Lobby and other closely held for-profit companies could withhold insurance coverage for certain types of contraception, including intrauterine devices and the morning-after pill, on religious grounds. The Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate violated the company owners’ rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s majority opinion.

So far, the ruling is not expected to immediately affect New Hampshire’s contraceptive statute, which passed with broad bipartisan support and was signed into law in 1999 by Shaheen, who was governor. In a statement, New Hampshire Insurance Department Deputy Commissioner Alex Feldvebel said the ruling “does not alter or affect” the state’s requirements.

“According to this 15-year-old New Hampshire law, all employer-sponsored health insurance that covers outpatient services or prescriptions in general must cover outpatient contraceptive services or prescriptions for contraceptives under the same terms and conditions as other outpatient services or prescriptions,” Feldvebel said.

Still, those at the roundtable said they were concerned that the door is now open for future challenges to New Hampshire’s statute. At the federal level, Shaheen said Congress needs to find a way to restore the contraceptive access that was compromised by Monday’s ruling.

Those on the panel said the issue is as much an economic one as a medical one, as the out-of-pocket cost of contraceptives can be a barrier to those who would otherwise benefit from using birth control for pregnancy prevention or other medical reasons.

Some panelists also said they were worried about what the potential challenges invited by Monday’s ruling might mean for their daughters’ or granddaughters’ access to contraceptives. Women’s Fund of New Hampshire Program Director Megan Brabec, the youngest of the group, said she “never imagined that this would be an issue that my generation would have to deal with.”

While much of the discussion focused on the effects of the ruling as they relate to women’s health, Carol Barleon of Bow also spoke out against the decision’s expansion of protections for corporations at the expense of individual citizens.

“It opens the door for various corporations and businesses to go to the Supreme Court and gradually erode the ‘one person, one vote,’ ” said Barleon, who added she was not affiliated with the organizations in attendance.

A campaign issue

In the Granite State, at least, the issue of contraceptive coverage wasn’t always so politically divisive – said Shaheen and two other lawmakers who pushed for the 1999 law: Speaker of the House Terie Norelli and former state representative Liz Hager. But Norelli, a Democrat, and Hager, a Republican, characterized the Supreme Court ruling as “out-of-step” with the ideals of New Hampshire residents.

“Here in the Granite State, we really have a long tradition of being supportive of and respectful of women and their ability to make their own health care decisions, and their ability to access a range of reproductive health care,” Norelli said at yesterday’s discussion.

Hager echoed Norelli and emphasized Shaheen’s past work on such issues.

“New Hampshire people want privacy, they want the right to make their own decisions, and you’ve certainly reflected that in your career over time,” she said, nodding to Shaheen, “and that’s one reason why this decision was so, so discouraging.”

Hager, Norelli, Shaheen and Bette Lasky, a Democratic state senator from Nashua, sharply criticized Scott Brown, who is running against Shaheen for U.S. Senate, and other Republicans who supported the Supreme Court’s decision.

“You always have to be careful when people say, ‘I am pro-choice, but . . .’ ” said Lasky, referencing statements Brown and Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein issued in response to the Supreme Court ruling earlier this week.

They also pointed to Brown’s co-sponsorship of the Blunt Amendment – an attempt to allow employers to bypass the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate on religious or moral grounds, which ultimately failed – as an example of his stance on women’s health issues.

Shaheen said Brown is “trying to have it both ways” in his position on contraceptive access.

“This is a decision that should be made by women. This should not be made by an employer, it shouldn’t be made by the government – it should be made by women,” Shaheen said after the roundtable. “And I think that distinction will be clear to women throughout this campaign.”

The Brown campaign declined to comment in response to yesterday’s criticism, pointing to an earlier statement. On Monday, Communications Director Elizabeth Guyton said Brown “supports women’s health care and access to contraception but by injecting government into every aspect of our lives, Obamacare threatens all our freedoms.”

Havenstein’s campaign did not respond to requests for additional comment. In a statement about the Supreme Court decision, Havenstein previously expressed support for women’s health and access to contraception but said the ruling “exposed one of Obamacare’s fundamental flaws, which is that it imposes a one-size-fits-all answer to every circumstance.”

(Casey McDermott can be reached at 369-3306 or cmcdermott@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @caseymcdermott.)

Legacy Comments26

F-o-F...really! Some of us are about to eat lunch here. Couldn't 'Aunt Flo' wait?

Sorry, but if you cannot maturely handle accurate language about real medical issues, then perhaps you should excuse yourself from the discussion. How is it helpful to women to essentially say "I don't wanna hear about your medical problems because they're gross. Just go deal with them silently. And pay for them yourself, because it's too gross for me to try to understand why insurance should cover the treatment?"

Down girl...

A "roundtable" should include all views and all opinions. NARAL is hardly an organization that would be open to a free discussion of this topic. The owners of Hermano's according to Open Secrets.org which tracks political donations clearly support Democrats with donations from 2008 to both Jeanne Shaheen through 2013 with several donations to Kuster. This was political grandstanding and a journalistic photo opportunity with a predictable outcome, hardly a "roundtable". This free political ad was provided by The Concord Monitor.

Nothing about the definition of "roundtable" implies that more than one point of view must be honored. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/round table

If it is not allowing all points of view then it is a political strategy meeting or a political rally. From Wikipedia: "Round table is a form of academic discussion. Participants agree on a specific topic to discuss and debate. Each person is given equal right to participate, as illustrated by idea of a circular layout referred to in the term round table" You read "discuss and debate", Shaheen's roundtable was about getting a free news story in the Monitor.

You know Senator your touched in the Head .. This is about killing a Child . Not about preventive pregnancy .. Its about Abortion .Are you that confused ? When is Health Care to be subject to paying for people to get an Abortion or the killing of a Child with Chemicals.. Why am I telling you who voted for the Adultery Law to be Amended . Health Care and Abortion How do you say them in one sentence ? Besides My Daughter a Terminal Brain Cancer survivor at 15 . This year she will be 21 . And has to take Birth Control so she can have her period it is a Health issue that she has to have it... Yet Obamacare /ACA does not provide ! So take your BS Health care system and stick it !

GOOD FOR YOU BIG SCOTT! Progressives take notice.

Huh? The ACA most certainly does cover birth control pills. It's one of the basic coverages that all insurances must provide. There are also non-contraceptive reasons to use an IUD, as well, and the Hobbly Lobby decision means that those employees who NEED the IUD to control certain medical conditions cannot get it covered, even if they are not sexually active and no fertilized eggs will be harmed. An IUD is not an inexpensive device - over $1000 if you have to pay out of pocket... although it does last up to 5 years.

They apparently didn't bother to read the ruling. Hermanos will never be in a position to tell anyone what to do with their bodies. " Whether her employees can choose to use contraceptives" is just wrong interpretation of this entire issue. Hobby Lobby provides insurance coverage for 12 kinds of preventative birth control. Anything not covered by insurance can be purchased by the employee out of pocket. Plan B costs between $30-$60. Even the makers of Plan B say you shouldn't use it often; you should take the hint that your regular birth control isn't working. This is about personal responsibility and taking ownership of the consequences of your choices. Before speaking publicly, people should make sure they know what they're talking about. As a moderate conservative, I support access to birth control for all. But I also support people making decisions in their life responsibly.

Here we have another "moderate" Republican that supports bc for all "but"......... And no, the SCOTUS said in an additional ruling that HL does not have to provide any birth control at all if it violates their religious beliefs. So I am sure it won't be long before the other shoe drops.

HL employees 23,000 people. My guess is, if they in fact decided that all BC was against their beliefs, they would in fact find it very difficult to get anybody to work for them. By the way, HL pays their full time employees 14.00 per hour to start and 9.50 for PT employees. So evidently they have no issues getting employees. Nobody forces you to work anywhere. Nobody tells you that you cannot do better than flipping burgers at McDees. You are the one that tells yourself that and you are the one that puts limits on your life. Strong women take control of their lives, weak women make excuses why they cannot do anything.

Nope, strong women fight for their rights and the rights of their weaker sisters who are used to men making all the decisions in their lives. It is no accident that all the women on the Court voted against HL and to honest with you Rabbit, this should not even be a political difference. If you are really a woman, you were one first, before you became a conservative and you should understand what the real point is here. Doesn't matter what HL pays, isn't that what men have been saying forever. You don't need to worry or think, we will take care of you. You can argue all you want but this ruling definitely isn't going to help get more women into the Republican camp.

"men who are making all the decisions in their lives". I think that you are confusing the 40's and 50's with 2014 or maybe you are watching too much Lifetime television.

How much does Hermanos pay to their employees? Is it on par with Hobby Lobby? I might also mention that I figured it out and last year I spent a little over $1200 at Hermanos. This year I have already spent about $350. I will not be spending anything there anymore based on their political views being made public. When I owned businesses I learned one thing for sure, owning a business and being open and loud about your political views does not mix.

Tillie, sad to say but your attitude is exactly why nothing is getting done in Washington. If someone doesn't agree with your opinion, they are wrong, trying to oppress women, and hate poor people. I don't need to meet your "definition" of moderate to consider myself one. Your opinion matters not to me. You're certain that this is the first in a series of steps to take rights away from women, the same way far right people are certain that background checks are the next step to banning guns completely. You're both wrong, but you deny that anyone else has opinions except people w ho agree with you and strict conservatives, who you think are horrible people.

No the reason nothing is getting done in Washington is because the Republicans practice the art of obstructing at the expense of the American people. This is called an "opinion" page and if you don't like to see opinions that differ from yours maybe you should go somewhere else.

By the way there is no such animal as a "moderate Republican" they are extinct.

What do you call "moderate"? Please name a "moderate" Democrat, if you can???

concordcitizen, If I may interject a few unsolicited words of virtual wisdom here. Unbeknownst to her, tillie is one of my online patients, which I took on pro bono (no, I'm not a real psychologist, I just play one on Talkback). This is the time of day when she is making the transition from 'Minnie Pearl' to 'Bette Davis'. A little Minnie Pearl in the morning won't hurt ya (ooh, good C&W song title!), but even the smallest dose of Bette Davis in the evening (heavy metal song title?) could be lethal. Wait an hour or two, and she'll have full-blown Bette Davis Eyes (song title already taken). Anyone who's gone there has yet to come back. FYI.

Larry, I am hoping that you AT LEAST stayed at a Holiday Inn Express of you are playing psychologist. By the way, many of the posters from the Left here, if this was 1970 would be taking their meds and getting three square meals a day at 105 Pleasant Street. I see tillie standing over in that corner looking emotionless.

A staged Political act that this compliant Rag prints as news - Here is a FACT for ya: What caused the Supreme Court to rule as it did was a law passed by democrats and signed by Bill Clinton, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act..... Ask your self this.... how in the world did women survive before Emperor NObama arrived to lift them out of serfdom. This is just more of the democrats false baloney made up "war on women" hoax !!! - a truly terrible way to govern. Now you know why America is so screwed up - it is how democrats operate - 100% shameless

"Shaheen said Congress needs to find a way to restore the contraceptive access that was compromised by Monday’s ruling."...meanwhile, walking to any number of stores in town and buying the 4 items HL wont cover works...

When's the last time you attempted walk into a store to purchase a $1200 IUD to control your debilitatingly heavy menstrual bleeding? This is not exacly a do-it-yourself project, not is it inexpensive for those who need it.

IUD's...do not cost $1200...sorry

Mirena itself says the device costs 927.18. Then there's the fee for the medical professional to insert it. http://www.mirena-us.com/how-to-get-mirena/if-mirena-isnt-covered.php I'm specifically talking about the hormonal IUD's, not the copper ones. These are the kind that are prescribed for medical conditions as well as contraception.

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