Hobby Lobby Wins SCOTUS Approval to Take Away Women’s Health Care

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Monday that the Christian owned craft store, Hobby Lobby has the right to deny contraception and related women’s reproductive health care coverage to its employes based on it’s religious beliefs. That’s right, forget crafting, Hobby Lobby believes that God wants all women to be baby makers regardless of whether or not that choice might kill them.

This is a huge blow to women’s rights and the second SCOTUS ruling in under two weeks that has made acquiring safe and affordable health care for women exceedingly difficult. The first ruling was the denial of buffer zones around clinics that happen to provide abortions. Any woman who has worked for minimum wage knows that those clinics also provide basic health care that will also be given by women’s health doctor. I have been to quite a few abortion clinics, and it wasn’t for an abortion. It was for pap smears and birth control. But even those basic preventative health care measures for women are considered too much to ask for in today’s religious fueled ferver to take away a woman’s right to bodily autonomy and health.

Back to today’s case.

Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000bb et seq., which provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest, allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.

In a nut shell, Hobby Lobby won the right not to pay for certain forms of health care for their female employees that the owners of Hobby Lobby believe are tantamount to abortion.

Planned Parenthood and other great organizations are speaking up against the Hobby Lobby ruling.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund had this to say: (via Huff Po)

“Today, the Supreme Court ruled against American women and families, giving bosses the right to discriminate against women and deny their employees access to birth control coverage,” Richards said in a statement. “This is a deeply disappointing and troubling ruling that will prevent some women, especially those working hourly-wage jobs and struggling to make ends meet, from getting birth control.”

Planned Parenthood has also started a petition: JOIN THE DISSENT Click that link to sign.

It should be noted this decision only applies to  to closely held corporations, which is a company that has only a limited number of shareholders. So major corporations that are, for example, listed on the stock exchange are not available for this same exemption. But not everyone has the luxury of picking where they work. The women who work for Hobby Lobby have lost their rights to safe and affordable reproductive health care. But WE as consumers still have a right to choose. That means, we have the power NOT to ever shop at another Hobby Lobby owned store ever again. I suggest you all exercise that right.

SCOTUSblog also writes the following two statements:

Here is a further attempt at qualification: This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to mean that all insurance mandates, that is for blood transfusions or vaccinations, necessarily fail if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs – See more at: http://live.scotusblog.com/Event/Live_blog_of_opinions__June_30_2014?Page=2#sthash.l5wBGas4.dpuf

Here is more qualification: It does not provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination as a religious practice. – See more at: http://live.scotusblog.com/Event/Live_blog_of_opinions__June_30_2014?Page=2#sthash.l5wBGas4.dpuf

Skepchick Jamie explained it to me this way:

It’s bad. But, it could be worse. A lot of the things people are saying that the decision could lead to do not seem to be true.  Also, the decision specifically says that this does not stop the government from stepping in to provide coverage. So, in theory the Obama Administration can step in and provide contraceptive coverage to anyone who loses contraceptive coverage.

Which ironically could mean more government control in the lives of Americans which is something most conservatives are against. So it will be interesting to see how this ultimately plays out.

Justice Samuel Alito’s entire ruling can be found here.

This is may seem like a depressing time for women’s fight for equality, but we have the power to rise up and fight, not just for ourselves, but for the lives of women everywhere. Don’t give up hope.

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. Ok, so isn’t the SCOTUS decision making it legal for the US to allow only certain religious views to get a waiver under law while others are pushed aside? Isn’t this decision discriminatory against all other religions in the US who are not allowed to not cover or cover procedures they believe are a tenet of their religion? Examples being blood transfusions and vaccines. They say those treatments must be covered despite the beliefs of LDS and others. So then why does one sect of Christianity get a pass on equal protection and equal treatment under the law while others do not? Shouldn’t all religious beliefs be subjected to the same treatment under secular law?

    1. It actual opens the door to more then that, it could very well lead to granting corporations freedom of religion (after all Americans United gave them free speech) and it has given yet more evidence that the ideologues on current court care not for actual whether ruling are unconstitutional or not. Pathetic.

        1. What exactly did Jefferson and Adams write on oral contraception? How about John Jay or Patrick Henry? They love misquoting those two. I’m sure it must have been just as much as Jesus spoke about gun control. Exactly the same amount I suspect.

        2. We need an amendment to make sure all branches have to follow Article I, Section 9.

          Sadly, bills of attainder apparently can still be passed from the bench apparently.

      1. Oh, enforcing the 15th Amendment is apparently impossible because it involves violating the civil rights of states as well.

        Yeah, the Roberts court is kind of…wow.

        Apparently freedom of speech also includes harassing women going in for reproductive care.

    2. I read the summary of the decision and the Court seems to be saying that the reason it the religious liberty argument applies to contraceptives and not vaccinations or blood transfusions is because Congress already gave permission for non-profit organizations to opt-out of the contraception mandate. According to SCOTUS, the decision to allow some corporations to opt-out of the law (non-profits) while not allowing opt-outs to other (for-profits) is arbitrary. Therefore, if non-profits can have a religion and obtain a religious opt-out then for-profits should be able to do so as well.

      Since Congress has no laws that allow non-profits to opt out of things like coverage for vaccinations or blood transfusions, those things would not fall under this decision.

    3. No, the republican hacks on the SCOTUS are not making anything legal. They are just stopping the courts from enforcing the actual law passed by Congress by replacing it with a ridiculous ruling that they made up out of nothing.

      This isn’t even a constitutional question, it was decided on the interpretation of a law passed by Congress. So even more ridiculous that they ruled as they did. The long term consequence is going to be that every act of Congress will in future have to include specific language stating whether or not any rights apply to corporations or not.

      1. All of what ails this decision, and several other terrible SCOTUS rulings of late, would be cured with a “corporations are not people” amendment.

        Too bad we’re a long way from that being feasible.

        1. Unfortunately I don’t think even very many Democrats would endorse that. Capitalism has become too sacrosanct, the unification of the corporation with the state is the very definition of fascism, which I’m sure would come as a surprise to those who equate it with socialism.

          1. An alternative: an amendment to the RFRA clarifying that it applies only to physical people, not to legal fictions. This decision states that Hobby Lobby had no Constitutional case. If the RFRA were yanked out from under the company, this decision would be moot.

            I like to dream.

          2. “Integral nationalism is one of five types of nationalism defined by Carlton Hayes in his 1928 book The Historical Evolution of Modern Nationalism.
            More recently, Peter Alter discussed integral nationalism in his book “Nationalismus” (1985), along with its opposite, risorgimento nationalism. Whereas risorgimento nationalism applies to a nation seeking to establish a state (for example, Greece, Italy, Germany, Poland and Serbia in the 19th century), integral nationalism results after a nation has achieved independence and has established a state. Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, according to Alter, were examples of integral nationalism. Some of the qualities that characterise integral nationalism are anti-individualism, statism (plans by the few ideology), radical extremism, and aggressive-expansionist militarism.”

    4. Amelia Jordan,

      Hopefully they won’t decide that they have a right to deny things like blood transfusions and vaccines as well. A lot of people could be completely without health coverage and could end up dead if that happens.

    5. Bush v. Gore 2.0.

      We need an amendment about how all Supreme Court decisions must be precedential. No bills of attainder from the bench either.

      (BTW, I’m pretty sure blood transfusions is Jehovah’s Witnesses. LDS has some, ah, unorthodox beliefs about Indians.)

  2. Time for an executive order to provide contraceptives to all American women. The collective explosion of right-winger’s heads would be an extra advantage.

  3. This is a good time to remember that there are organizations like Planned Parenthood which provide reproductive health services to women (many locations also provide health care to men and people of other genders as well) at a low cost, to help ensure that everyone can still have access to the basic health care they need regardless of the failures of our government. If you’re as incensed by the Hobby Lobby case as I am and you have the financial means, I encourage you to join me in making a donation to Planned Parenthood today. And if today’s decision will impact your ability to afford health care, you may be able to find a Planned Parenthood near you that can help you get the care you need.

    1. Yes, Planned Parenthood is a wonderful organization but they are not the sole solution. As you stated in your last sentence “you may be able to find one near you”. But then they are being attacked with lies and threats of de-funding so your chances don’t look to be expanding any time soon.

      1. I agree, but as secularists we should do our best to provide secular NGOs with the material resources they need to expand access to basic health care, even as we also try to change our government to do its job there.

  4. so only women can be bodily controlled by old people who are removed from the national reality and who cater to christers.
    but separation of church and state only means, oh ya except the christian Christers.
    once again women in u.s. treated like crap. strange that when women are denied rights in other countries it’s a big political deal here in America.

  5. And as I suspected the ridiculousness has begun, A call for corporations to fire gays based on this ruling, can’t say I’m surprised. I wonder how they would feel if an atheist business owner started firing theist because he saw this decision as carte blanche? Somehow I think they would suddenly not be so free with their freedom.

    Voting matters even if you are unhappy with both sides, this is the long-term shit that matters much more than a paltry eight years.

      1. I just can’t believe they actually have a news section labeled “Persecution.” It would make me think it’s satire, but sadly I think Poe’s law is in effect.

    1. “Voting matters even if you are unhappy with both sides, this is the long-term shit that matters much more than a paltry eight years.”

      Well said. Supreme Court nominations are one of the reasons that I get really pissed at my liberal friends who talk about refusing to vote Democratic because the party isn’t sufficiently ideologically pure. I think this Court is the worst we’ve had in decades, and we have GWB’s nominees to thank for it.

      1. Yeah. It’s a little difficult to go “Well, the Democrats aren’t liberal enough” when the Republicans are being overrun by frothing mad lunatics.
        I know it’s Not All Republicans. There are good Republicans out there… but you guys seriously need to clean house and make this fight less existential before we can really settle down. Banish the far right and we can talk.

      2. “Supreme Court nominations are one of the reasons that I get really pissed at my liberal friends who talk about refusing to vote Democratic because the party isn’t sufficiently ideologically pure.”

        In short, the Democrats have their own version of Tea Party bigots, and they are just as bad. Both parties need to clean house!

  6. It should be noted this decision only applies to to closely held corporations, which is a company that has only a limited number of shareholders. So major corporations that are, for example, listed on the stock exchange are not available for this same exemption.

    Yeah, actually I’ve seen nothing in the logic of the decision that supports this. The opinion says it applies to only “closely-held corporations,” but here’s the money shot:

    That disputes among the owners of corporations might arise is not a problem unique to this context. State corporate law provides a ready means for resolving any conflicts by, for example, dictating how a corporation can establish its governing structure.

    That’s from the syllabus of the opinion. It’s responding to one of the arguments made by HHS, that a corporation can’t have religion because when you have multiple owners, which owner’s religion rules the roost? The SCOTUS says that this is like asking which owner’s vision of corporate governance rules the roost – there are procedures in place to determine corporate governance amongst shareholders, and those procedures can be used to determine religion, too.

    Well, those questions are resolved in the AT&Ts and Wal-Marts of the world every day, so there’s no reason to think that this opinion is only going to apply to “closely-held corporations” for very long.

    The majority essentially grants that their logic sucks when they append to the end on page 46 (it’s also at the end of the syllabus):

    In any event, our decision in these cases is concerned solely with the contraceptive mandate. Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs.

    If their logic was solid, they wouldn’t have to put a stopper in the drain like this. They know this is terrible reasoning. The opinion on Bush v. Gore had a similar provision, that nobody is to apply that decision to any other case, because it used terrible reasoning and the Court knew it.

  7. I can’t even concentrate on reading this blog post because I’m so angry. I specifically braced myself last night and I’m STILL infuriated. I’ve read a half dozen articles on it already, and I know it’s not a total and complete disaster, and I’m STILL frothing mad.

    Time to hit the voting booths, people. We need a “corporations are not people” amendment and we need to chuck the 1993 Restoration of Religious Freedom act out the window.

    1. Is it odd I actually want the antivaxxers and other woo peddlers to sue until the Supreme Court realizes the monster they’ve created.

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