In a stunning and disheartening victory, today the Supreme Court of the United States decided that “small,” closely-held for-profit businesses (defined as those businesses with few shareholders, which includes such large businesses as Hilton, Dole, Heinz, everything the Koch Brothers own, and, yes, the 16,000-employee-strong Holly Lobby…small?) can deny medical coverage for based on the religious beliefs of the owners. This is the “first time that the high court has ruled that profit-seeking businesses can hold religious views under federal law.” This means that those views can be enforced on employees. Surprisingly, the commenters in a religious news site that praises the Greens (Hobby Lobby’s owners) largely, and strongly, disagree with all of this.
The Greens had their case argued citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (part 1 and part 2), which is an act meant to prevent undue burden in practicing one’s religion. The Greens claim that having to follow laws all for-profit businesses are expected to follow makes it impossible for them to practice their religion. SCOTUS agreed. How the hell it makes ANY sense it beyond me. If they want to shun birth control they don’t have to use it. Now their employees, mostly women who are paid minimum wage, will have to shell out $50 a month or more for pills, even if they’re needed for non-contraceptive reasons, or $1,000 or more for an IUD, because somehow this is what enables the Greens to practice their religion.
The RFRA was NOT meant to be used this way. There are religions out there that genuinely oppose its members from having social security numbers and from paying federal income taxes, and both times SCOTUS said the RFRA didn’t apply, even when it comes to individuals directly. So how the hell does the RFRA apply in this case when it’s a couple individuals trying to enforce their beliefs onto others?!
Hobby Lobby claims that birth control amounts to abortion by preventing implantation. Regardless of your views on abortions, there’s no denying the hypocrisy of a company that fought to get out of insurance coverage for contraception even when needed for not contraceptive use that sources most of its merchandise from China, a county where women are routinely forced into abortions. So it’s okay to send money to a country that forces abortions if it means cheaper products and a higher profit, but it’s somehow a violation of the Greens’ religious freedom for the store’s employees to have access to birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancy or to handle other medical conditions.
What next, are the Greens going to cite the RFRA again to force the government to pay for their proposed bible classes in public schools?
The long and short of it is that today’s ruling is a major blow to women in America. While vasectomies and Viagra are untouched and still covered without question, our right to medical care is allowed to be dictated by the religious beliefs in others. As we lose our rights, we enter into oppression. At this point, our daughters can expect to have fewer rights than we did, now that the highest court in our land decided against us.
Incidentally, Hobby Lobby is a major investor in IUDs…. So they apparently want people to get them, since they’re for-profit…but not to pay for things like this…. It’s the same kind of unethical circular logic used by WalMart in paying its employees so little that about half of them need food stamps and TANF to get by, which those employees turn around and spend at WalMart….