The Supreme Court
(image by VoxLive)
As most readers know, in a split decision, the Supreme Court ruled that some companies can be exempt from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision requiring them to provide certain contraceptive services as part of their employee health benefits because of religious objections.
There was more than one company that joined in the complaint, but for the purpose of this discussion, I'll just focus on Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby argued that it was a violation of their religious freedom and personal liberty to be required to provide a service to their employees that they have a religious objection to. In fact, they consider some forms of contraception equivalent to abortion and that is certainly their right.
Most on the opposing side including government lawyers and most women's groups said that not providing these services was a women's health issue that endangered many both financially and physically if the services were not available.
The pro ACA side of this battle and the Supreme Court completely missed the point. If it is unfair for the ACA to violate personal liberty and make a decision about contraception for the owners of Hobby Lobby, isn't even more unfair for the owners of Hobby Lobby to violate personal liberty and make a decision about contraception for all of the employees in their 572 stores? I listened to a priest being interviewed on the news about this decision and he thought the court was correct, because he equated the inclusion of contraceptive services as part of the ACA with Jews and Muslims being forced to eat pork.
But wait! Jews and Muslims are not being forced to eat pork. Pork is available to them and it is their choice to eat it or not to eat it, just as Hobby Lobby employees should have all the health services available to them and then each individual can exercise their personal liberty by deciding which services to use and not to use. No one is forcing the owners or the employees to violate any religious belief and forcing them to use these services, but simply stating that they are available for anyone who wants to use them. The owners made a financial argument stating that they are being force to pay extra for these services, but that argument fails, because the cost of contraceptive services is far lower than the cost for one child through prenatal and pediatric care. In fact, most health insurance providers are happy to provide these services, because they lower overall costs. Still, it seems that the people who want to limit religious freedom and personal liberty are the owners of Hobby Lobby and the others in this legal action, because they don't want their employees to have the opportunity to choose a path that is in conflict with their personal choices.
Isn't this the supreme double standard and another case of the court placing businesses above people? The owners can make a personal, moral, religious decision, but the employees can not, because the decision is being made for them by the owner who is allowed to apply that decision to the entire business and the thousands of employees within it.
This will never be properly settled until the employees band together and file a class action against the owner for violating their (the employee) religious freedom by limiting employee health care options based on the owner's personal beliefs. There are many who champion personal liberty ONLY if you happen to believe the way they do and it is inconceivable to them that anyone could believe differently. The ACA has a church exemption for these issues, because a religious institution may have specific objections and the reach of this exemption is extremely limited. Although the owners of Hobby Lobby are very religious, it is not a religious institution, it is a business, where many employees may have different beliefs than the company's owners. The court has failed again.