On June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. This allowed Hobby Lobby and other for-profit employers to refrain from providing birth control coverage to their employees under the Affordable Care Act. The reasoning behind this ruling was that it violated the religious freedoms of Hobby Lobby to have to cover contraception for their employees.
There were four dissenting parties in this ruling: Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Three of the four are women. Justice Ginsburg, as part of her powerful dissent, made the observation that if this particular “religious freedom” should be protected, “…how does the Court divine which religious beliefs are worthy of accommodation, and which are not?” Blood transfusions and vaccinations are concerns for other religious groups. Should they also not be covered?
It is interesting that the SCOTUS chose to honor the religious freedoms of a secular business over the reproductive health of women. It’s scary that the SCOTUS chose to protect a business over people with health concerns in general. Shouldn't the rights of people trump the rights of businesses? Furthermore, Hobby Lobby itself isn’t a religion or a church. It’s a for-profit business. Why should it get special privileges just because the owners are religious? They say that their religious rights are being violated. Well, why should their religious beliefs be forced upon their employees? That doesn’t seem very fair.
Something that businesses like Hobby Lobby should realize is the birth control is used for various purposes; not just recreational sex. While it is a great tool to be used in family planning, it is also used for various health issues, and it’s very important, for the sake of women’s health, that they have access to birth control. Not all birth control is inexpensive. Some, like IUDs, can cost upwards of $1000. Most people can’t just pay that kind of money out-of-pocket.
Hobby Lobby may not realize it, but the Supreme Court ruling doesn’t just affect their religious rights. It can affect entire families. If a woman doesn’t have access to birth control, her options--and the options of the family--suddenly change. They may have to pay out-of-pocket for birth control, which affects family finances. They may choose to go without birth control, which may end up in a surprise pregnancy, or which may worsen her illness, if she was on birth control to regulate an illness.
This ruling is concerning and it makes one wonder what could happen in the future in the name of religious freedom. But if we continually stand up for our human rights, we can make ourselves heard and change can happen.