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.