By Dane Laborn
The Supreme Court convened on Monday and came to a decision on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell. In a startling decision, the Supreme Court has held that commercial enterprises, including corporations, including partnerships and sole-proprietorships, can opt out of any law — saving tax laws — that they feel is damaging to their religious beliefs.
Hobby Lobby is owned by the Greens, a devoutly Christian family, and Conestoga Wood Specialties is owned by the Hahn family, a group of Mennonites. In accordance with their religious beliefs, some forms of contraception are akin to abortion. The Supreme Court decision allows them to opt out of paying costs under their insurance for birth control that doesn’t line up with their religion’s opinions, superseding the Affordable Care Act.
I awoke to this news Monday morning, and am utterly baffled. Corporations are people now, I guess. That’s what this is saying, basically. I am aware that the lawsuit is over the business owner’s feelings, but the businesses they own are not human beings, and they are being afforded the freedoms typically reserved for the living, breathing demographic. A building is not a person. The wider implications of this decision terrify me, as it is basically affording any privately owned business to dictate to their employees what is or is not okay medically. It has never and will never be any corporation’s business what medical procedures their employees undergo, this violates privacy and rights in ways completely unexpected to me.
We live in a country where the separation of church and state is becoming blurrier and blurrier, and every politician seems to have forgotten that our wonderful United States was founded in part to escape a Church-run system, to be free to make a choice as to what and how we believe, no matter what form that belief takes. Our forefathers would not be okay with the way Corporate America plays its game, putting the almighty dollar before the people. Sadly, modern America puts the almighty dollar before a lot, and the more power we are willing to give Corporate America, the more they will want to take.
Allowing businesses like Hobby Lobby something like Religious freedom opens up a massive can of worms, as so many different religions are opposed to so many different things, whether it be certain meats or blood draws, there is always a form of faith that says “no” to something. The fact that this is all seemingly directed towards women drives the nail even further into the category of “wrong.” The burden of payment for a woman wanting birth control now falls to her own pocketbook, her own wages, if her bosses think it’s a violation of their religious beliefs. It is also worth noting that an intrauterine device, IUD, costs roughly a month’s salary at minimum wage if paid for outside insurance.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote a 35 page scathing dissent of the Supreme Court’s decision, one that I highly recommend reading. Universal Birth Control was deemed mandatory under the Affordable Care Act, and she is just as baffled and disgusted by this decision as I am. It can be found at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/30/ruth-bader-ginsburg-write_n_5544111.html
I think what hurts me the most about SCOTUS’ decision is that it comes on the heels of some pretty important milestones in the national conscience on the state of misogyny and women’s rights in our country. The #YesAllWomen hashtag and P&G’s recent #LikeAGirlmovement are aiming to create serious change in how we treat women and girls, in the things we say, the way some of our turn-of-phrases sound, that woman does not equate to weakness, but strength. Then there is this. Corporations are people, but apparently women aren’t. Hobby Lobby has been afforded the right to tell it’s female employees what to do with their bodies. This is not okay.