Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided in the Sebelius (Burwell) vs. Hobby Lobby case, a lawsuit brought by crafts corporation Hobby Lobby, which argued that the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, specifically the part that requires employers to provide contraception to female employees, violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Hobby Lobby is a Christian-owned company and argued that providing contraception such as Plan B would violate its religiously held beliefs. To be forced to provide this care, they argued, would violate the RFRA federal law.Hobby Lobby won the case, and it was the opinion of the court that corporations cannot be forced to provide a service that violates their religious beliefs. As a result, bosses can now deny women contraceptive coverage under employer-based healthcare, and women’s contraceptive needs are now at the mercy of their employers.
As an aside note, contraceptive pills are not solely designed to prevent pregnancy. They can treat endometriosis, cysts, relieve the pain of serious menstrual cramps, and even prevent acne. Does anybody have the Bible verse that states “thou shalt not treat endometriosis”? Because I can’t seem to find it.
What adds insult to injury in this case is the fact that Hobby Lobby is heavily invested in China, a country with abortions and contraceptives on demand. Hobby Lobby CEO David Green wrote an open letter last year, claiming that “being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill … We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs.” You can’t profit heavily from a country that regularly provide abortions and contraceptives, and then go before the Supreme Court in all your Christian holiness, whining and moaning that the nasty Presidentman is making you give up your faith.
Here’s the thing – corporations are not people, and they are not capable of having religious beliefs. For the Supreme Court to rule that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to corporations is completely absurd. The whole point of being “incorporated” is to protect individuals for being held to account for their own beliefs. By being a corporation you are effectively stating that the entity you own is not held to account in the same way that a person is, therefore a corporation is not a person. A corporation cannot have the benefits of non-personhood whilst claiming it has religious beliefs. That is the equivalent of having your cake and eating it. Corporations are not people, and if they were, they’d have to abide by the same rules as the rest of us.
Why is the majority in the Supreme Court allowing corporations to have the best of both worlds? Because they’re made up of Bush-era partisan extremists and neo-conservatives, who have absolutely no basis for most of the decisions they make, narrowly interpret the law to suit their agenda, and who have little or no regard for women or minorities (let us not forget their gutting of the Civil Rights Act a while back). When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg rules on a decision, there is always constitutional basis. When the former Monsanto lawyer Clarence Thomas, superstitious Bible-basher Antonin Scalia, and Republican banner-man Justice Roberts rule, it is out of narrow interpretation and partisan agenda. It’s 2014, universal birth control coverage should not even be the matter of lawsuits, it should be a given. A woman has the right to decide her own healthcare choices, not CEOs and religious bosses.
Of course, the renowned hate group Concerned Women For America were at the courthouse, cheering for the decision. Apparently abortion and birth control are two sides of the same evil, liberal coin, despite the fact that birth control prevents abortion. CWFA are nothing more than a bunch of radical anti-feminists and pro-life extremists, and we’d do well to not dwell on them for too long. They’re only worth mentioning because that’s the sort of group which supports rulings like these, and if that doesn’t give you a reason to oppose Hobby Lobby, perhaps you’re part of the problem. Ask yourself what would happen if it were a Muslim-owned corporation bringing these sorts of arguments before the Supreme Court. Ask yourself whether CWFA would still be on the same side, and ask yourself if the Court would rule in the Muslim company’s favour.
Why is it that religious freedom always trumps real people’s freedom? We’ve seen “religious freedom” used as an excuse for horrible atrocities in the last few years. Think of the anti-gay segregation laws spreading throughout the south. What’s their justification? You guessed it – “Religious freedom”. Hobby Lobby is hypocritical, typically right-wing, and should be boycotted with immediate effect. When women get the right to decide what to do with their own bodies, your religious freedom is intact, because it doesn’t affect you. When you complain that what other people do with their own lives affects your religious freedom, you’re claiming that your beliefs are more important than their decisions, and that your beliefs give you the right to violate their autonomy and make their decisions for them. It’s sick, it’s wrong, and the Supreme Court shouldn’t be endorsing it. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act should be significantly revised or repealed.
You can read Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent for the Hobby Lobby decision here.
By the way, if you thought the Supreme Court was done being an asshole, you’d be wrong.