President Barack Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act (nee Obamacare) has been met with so much hate and disdain from both sides of the American political spectrum, but never has a ruling against health care reform been so infuriatingly stupid. This is one of those rulings where you just read a news article and go, “Are you fucking serious?” As part of Obamacare, businesses had to cover contraceptives for its employees, specifically female contraceptives like Plan B. Two specific companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, argued that Obamacare infringed upon their First Amendment rights to operate their small, for-profit businesses under “Christian principles.” If they refused to cover such contraceptives, they faced annual fines of $475 million. However, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the two businesses, stating:
The companies in the cases before us are closely held corporations, each owned and controlled by members of a single family, and no one has disputed the sincerity of their religious beliefs […]
The Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, as separate companies, can be seen as a “person” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. The problem is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 was meant for employees to exercise their religious right, i.e. prayer, religious observance, etc., not employers to infringe upon their employees’ basic rights. However, the Department of Health and Human Services argued that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties forfeited those rights when they became corporations, which is true; the fact that this ruling even went to the Supreme Court, let alone passed is ridiculous.
So what does this mean in layman’s terms? First and foremost, the two aforementioned companies will not cover their female employees’ legally prescribed contraceptives because they are “tantamount to abortion,” such as the morning-after pill. However, some of these contraceptives are prescribed for health reasons. Even then, no business should have a decision as to what their employees do with their bodies, regardless of gender. Ironically, male contraception procedures like vasectomies are still being covered under the “Hobby Lobby” decision.
Secondly, and the scariest point: This ruling opens the door for many other businesses to argue their “religious rights” are being jeopardized by Obamacare. While the specific wording for today’s ruling targets small businesses, it sets a precedent for larger corporations to find loopholes to not only work against Obamacare, but to also push their religious agendas upon employees and prospective employees. Remember the uproar that Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy caused by speaking out against marriage equality (and donating to many campaigns and groups that discriminated against the LGBT communities)? That was a pebble compared to the rockslide that today’s ruling may cause in the future.
As it stands, this ruling targets and punishes women and their right to health care coverage for contraceptives. White House spokesperson Josh Earnest had this to say:
President Obama believes that women should make personal health care decisions for themselves, rather than their bosses deciding for them. Today’s decision jeopardizes the health of women that are employed by these companies.
This has nothing to do with religious freedom, simply because corporations themselves shouldn’t be allowed to express said “religious freedom.” CEOs and business owners? Whatever you believe in, that’s great and more power to you and your chosen deity/deities. However, when that “religious freedom” affects your public, for-profit business and your employees? That’s where the line’s being crossed.