VALPARAISO | Valparaiso University Law Professor Rosalie Levinson discussed women’s rights and religious freedom Thursday to a group of Northwest Indiana businesswomen.
“People need to know about it, because one out of three women can’t afford contraceptives, and it means a lot of women aren’t getting the health care they need,” Levinson said. “It’s not just an equality issue, but it’s also a health issue. I think it would be very unfortunate if we lost that.”
The discussion was sponsored by Engaging NWI Business Women, a group of women dedicated to connecting and advancing careers of women throughout Northwest Indiana through education, leadership and development.
Levinson discussed the contraceptive mandate associated with the Affordable Health Care Act, the proposal to stop funding Planned Parenthood, and how religious institutions are trying to get out of paying for contraceptives. She explained they believe the government has no right to force them to facilitate services contrary to religious beliefs.
Levinson said in the past, the Supreme Court has not made exempt minority religious groups from that same principle. She explained if everyone could say that they are following their religion and were then are exempt from the law, religion would become above the law.
She went on to tell the group that while churches and other religious institutions are suing to be exempt from the Affordable Health Care Act, they are already exempt from the Act. Instead, it is insurance companies that are providing contraceptive care to women, not the institutions themselves.
“We thought this would be a topic of interest to our audience,” Kris Falzone, president of Comunicato Strategic Consulting and Engaging NWI Business Women said.
“In the past, we’ve addressed the issue of gender equity, and that was a very well attended and well thought out discussion that was about a year ago," Falzone said. "We know that these types of legal topics are of great interest to our members and guests, especially for those looking to discuss a topic that is relevant to their workplaces.”
“Professor Levinson is such a well respected legal mind that it was a perfect opportunity for her to come speak to our members and guests and to spark a conversation, especially in this election season,” she said.
Attendees were able to ask questions after Levinson’s speech, giving a chance for the group to further discuss the issue. Some asked why women don’t seem more concerned about their rights and religious freedom. One suggestion was because this issue is second to other issues in this election, such as the economy. Levinson said it’s important for the members of Engaging NWI Business Women to get the word out about women’s rights, and to vote on Election Day.
Falzone said that the purpose of the event was not to try to sway people a certain way to vote, and that Engaging NWI Business Women is not a political organization.
“It’s not about parties, but we just like to have an opportunity for people to open their minds and think of different topics that are important to them,” she said.