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I'm not a lawyer. I'm not even particularly "into" politics or "law stuff" (that's the official nomenclature, right?).
And I had a baby a month ago, my fourth one to be exact. So my head is, well, let's just say "not totally 'in the game.'" It's actually looking for the game. Is there a game? Where's the game? Somebody help me find the game.
My days are filled with marathon nursing sessions, vague attempts to shower and heroic efforts to leave the house with all four kids (lest I finally and completely lose my mind with these house-bound hellions). Summertime fun, anyone?
My point is that I am well-poised to ignore what's happening "out there." But some things cannot be ignored, or they shouldn't, at least, and the Supreme Court's recent Hobby Lobby decision has managed to permeate even this profound newborn cloud. As I'm sure you know, the Supreme Court ruled that most private companies (a full 90 percent of those in America) can choose not to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees, even though it's mandated by Obamacare, if it violates their religious beliefs.
Wait. What? There are people against contraception?
But it's 2014. I'm confused.
Yes, yes there are, because some people believe certain types of contraception prevent an egg from implanting in the uterus and therefore they are akin to abortion: "The owners of the businesses have religious objections to abortion, and according to their religious beliefs the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients" (source).
So let me get this straight. A bunch of whacked-out religious zealots have decided my IUD is the same as an abortion, and therefore, I can't get an IUD under company insurance? Yep.
Also, didn't the Supreme Court judges actually research/read how the contraceptive methods in question actually work? "According to the Food and Drug Administration, all four of the contraceptive methods Hobby Lobby objects to — Plan B, Ella, and two intrauterine devices — do not prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus, which the owners of Hobby Lobby consider abortion. Instead, these methods prevent fertilization" (source).
This is not real. Somebody just made this up.
Except they didn't.
But, did you just say "violates the religious beliefs of a corporation?" Yes, yes I did. Because apparently, in 'Merica, corporations can hold religious beliefs. Who knew? And all this time I thought corporations were money-making entities as opposed to humans with deeply held religious convictions.
Alright, setting sarcasm aside, this is a big deal, folks.
A really big deal.
If you don't see why, let me explain: 1. Corporations don't have religious beliefs. They don't have feelings, convictions or faith. They are money-making entities benefiting the owners. Employees are making money for those owners. They are part of the third-party entity, or corporation. They are not part of the owners' faith, beliefs, feelings or even, really, lives.
2. The owners aren't actually paying for contraception. They are paying for insurance, which is an employee benefit. It is compensation for their work. So the corporation is paying for health care, insurance, and the employee and her doctor are making decisions about how that health care/insurance is allocated. In other words, the woman is paying for the contraception.
Basically, this decision puts power over my body into the hands of corporations (since they're human now, they might as well have appendages). My employer can tell me which type of health care I can and cannot receive, and please, be very clear: Women use contraceptive devices and medications for a variety of medical reasons, not just for family planning.
The voice of dissent is mine.
As I've read through the various voices on this topic, it's become clear to me that my voice, and the voice of most women I know, is in this case, the voice of dissent, the voice of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If you haven't read her scathing, epic dissent, you should (Ginsburg's dissent begins on page 60). Basically, she's a bada**.
Here are some highlights, as selected by Mother Jones:
- "Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community." In other words, religion has crap to do with the employee-employer relationship. You want your employees to adhere to your religious convictions? Start a church or non-profit and hire your homies. Otherwise, keep your faith out of the secular world.
- "Would the exemption… extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today's decision." While I dislike the "slippery slope" logical fallacy as much as the next gal, this is not much of a stretch, and Ginsburg has nailed it. This decision opens the door for all kinds of religious objections that could result in insane new methods of discrimination.
- "Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be 'perceived as favoring one religion over another,' the very 'risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.'" If religion gets to determine the rights of employees, we are seriously screwed. Particularly women. But doing anything about it while avoiding favoritism will prove difficult, if not impossible.
- "The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield."
Exactly. A minefield.
A minefield that's the future of my four kids.
If you ever think voting doesn't matter, now's a time to rethink that. Clearly, the people we elect have the ability to make some seriously profound changes to our daily lives. It sounds obvious and clichéd, but I hear people talk about it all the time, "Oh it doesn't matter. What does one vote matter?"
But in times like this, when the voice of dissent is my only voice, my only power is in my vote, and I had better pay attention, no matter what my life looks like today.