The case before the Supreme Court today, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, will decide if Hobby Lobby can deny female employees legally covered health care based on the corporation’s owner’s personal religious beliefs, no matter the woman’s personal beliefs on her own body and health care.
The owner of Hobby Lobby asserts he has a right to conscious domain over all of his employees.
Under Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, female reproductive health coverage is required. There are some exceptions already in place to this law for religious institutions and there is an opt-out for non-profit religious groups whose spiritual beliefs reject birth control.
There is no opt-out provision for corporations whose owner objects to his female employees using contraception.
The nation is treading on a slippery slope. Once a business corporation is ruled a religious entity many questions arise. Would compliance to other anti-discrimination laws be at jeopardy? Could challenges then be made to the American’s with Disabilities Act, and so on?
In 1990 the court ruled in the Employment Division vs Smith case that a person cannot be a law unto themselves. This means that every individual, no matter what their personal religious belief, must adhere to the law.
That case was centered on whether a Native American man would be able to use peyote during a spiritual ceremony in accordance to his religious tradition. Peyote is a small, spineless cactus, with the hallucinogen mescaline as the active ingredient. From earliest history, peyote has been used by natives in the south-western United States as a part of their religious rites.
He was denied peyote use since it is illegal in this country. The court said that though peyote use is part of his religious belief system, he must obey the law of the land.
There was concern at the time of the ruling that Government would now be able to crush the rights of minority religions, forcing them to comply with laws that violate their religious beliefs. This led to the creation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
At that time no one was thinking a corporation would be found in a later ruling, Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission, to be an individual, let alone that this corporation would then come to the court saying that as an individual it has religious exercise and wants to be exempt from law.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was originally passed to protect individuals with conscious objections to certain general legal requirements, such as vaccinations. The RFRA was created as a shield to protect the rights of the individual. It was never the intent of the law to harm a third party.
In today’s case, female employees of Hobby Lobby would be denied standard reproductive health care. Women’s health care is equally important as male health care. This is the specific reason the minimum preventative care requirements covering female healthcare were put in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, to begin with.
Women today already earn less than their male counterparts. Unintended pregnancies have extreme financial impact. Hobby Lobby is demanding their female employees pay for their own birth control, yet they have no problem paying for a Viagra prescription. This appears to be a double-standard in prescription coverage. This discrimination against female employees will cause them further financial strain.
The CEO of Hobby Lobby, David Green, is a billionaire, seemingly oblivious to the financial struggles of the regular person. It is his belief that if you work for him you should not use birth control, because it goes against his personal religious beliefs, no matter what you and your doctor decide is best.
In this case scenario, Mr. Green would be able to use the Religious Freedom Reformation Act to hurt a third party, which was never the spirit of this law. It was created to protect, not harm.
The Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling will decide if the government has to back off from enforcing Federal law, while simultaneously stomping on an individual’s legal rights, and allowing the belief of a person in powerful position to trump the rights and needs of the individual.