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On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision that represents a victory for some, but it may indeed be the first step down a slippery slope. The story? Closely-held businesses with a religious objection do not have to provide coverage for certain types of contraception. But what this means to us, as a nation, is something much deeper.
The landmark decision
The nationwide health care mandate, known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), originally required that some for-profit businesses provide insurance coverage for birth control (and other reproductive health care services) — coverage that would not require a co-pay. However, this was a problem for some. Several corporations, specifically Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties of Pennsylvania, objected, saying that in providing for such coverage, they would be violating their own religious beliefs.
Based on the June 30 decision, closely-held for-profit businesses (meaning that at least 50 percent of stock is owned by five or fewer people) are now allowed to cite their long-held religious beliefs when it comes to not providing health care coverage for certain types of contraception. Many contraception options are covered, but those that employers deem to cause abortion, however, are not.
This includes IUDs as well as emergency contraception such as Plan B, Ella and Next Choice — medications that, in general, prevent ovulation from happening, and thus preventing pregnancy. However, the language of the paperwork accompanying the prescriptions states that they may also prevent fertilization and implantation (although studies haven't corroborated this). This is where the religious ideals come into play, as some consider abortion to be homicide — therefore, they believe that government mandates requiring coverage of these so-called abortifacients is wrong.
The U.S. Supreme Court, then, has granted corporations religious freedom, and that trumps the religious freedom of their workers.
Should your boss's religion impact your life?
I'm not going to debate abortion here, but I can certainly question whether the religious ideals of an employer should be applied to those who work for him. Hobby Lobby is getting the most media play because they are a craft store chain with nearly 700 stores nationwide. It is a well-known fact that the company is Christian-oriented, and they even close their doors on Sundays so employees can participate in worship if they wish. But does knowing that mean that you agree to abide by their religious principles if you're hired to work for them?
One worry that many have is that this decision not only has a huge impact on the employees of the two companies involved, but that it may be the beginning of a terrible precedent. Will it pave the way for other companies to file their own lawsuits against certain aspects of mandated health care, citing their own religious beliefs?
What if a company owned by Jehovah's Witnesses had taken this case to court because their religion prohibits the use of blood transfusions, for example? Do you see where this is going?
We've been duped
Another factor to consider is that Hobby Lobby heavily invests in the companies that make the very medications they supposedly morally object to. In other words, they are happy to make money from emergency contraception, IUDs and even abortion-inducing drugs, but they won't provide insurance coverage for those exact same medications for their employees. And ironically, Hobby Lobby did cover emergency contraception in their own health plan, and only dropped it when they found out the government was going to require them to cover it.
In addition to the deep disappointment and disbelief I felt when I first read the news, I'm even more saddened and disturbed reading comments from people who think that it was the right move. I've seen suggestions that people get another job, stop having sex and really, can't you just quit being irresponsible? Oh, and what's the big deal, really? Just save up your money and buy it yourself (never mind that an IUD can cost hundreds of dollars, and Plan B isn't super cheap either).
Not everyone has the same religious beliefs, and some have none at all. It's unbelievable that a corporation has been afforded religious freedom in such a manner that it impacts the choices of those who work for it. What's next?