Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Employers over Birth Control Mandate
In a split decision of 5-4, the Supreme Court reached a verdict on Monday regarding the birth control mandate in what's become popularly known as the "Hobby Lobby case," where "closely held," family-owned companies have resisted having to provide certain types of coverage for birth control medication they've deemed as "abortion-inducing." Among its many debatable points, the decision most glaringly brings about discussion with its split outnumbering the women (Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsburg) who voted against it.
While the topic of birth control and abortion has always been a controversial hot button in political and religious discussions, the ruling in favor of these privately owned companies begins to open all sorts of questions regarding fair coverage for its female employees. Those who have sided with the Supreme Court defend their position on the platform of protecting religious freedom, as the companies who have resisted the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act are of traditional Christian values, such as the owners of Hobby Lobby who come from generations of Evangelical Christians.
But is this really a matter of religious freedom? What will this mean for those women who will now have limited, if any, access to eligible contraceptives? And where does this ruling end? Does this lay the groundwork for other limitations of coverage? In my opinion, true religious freedom ought to respect the religious and moral decisions of others - whether that means a choice in contraception, immunization, or even more general medical treatments.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest relayed President Obama's concern over the decision "jeopardizing" the health of women, stating that the White House "will work with Congress to make sure that any women affected by this decision will still have the same coverage of vital health services as everyone else." And we can only hope they reach a fair solution for the women involved. There needs to be equal coverage for all women, regardless of their place of employment and the opinions of those who run it.
As it stands, the effects of this decision remain to be seen, but the ramifications border on unfair limitations in women's health coverage, rigidly removing choice and allowing corporations to rule over areas where government and companies have no place. Enough is enough.
I leave you with some excerpts from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in her dissent over Burwell v. Hobby Lobby:
- "It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month's full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage."
- The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers' beliefs access to contraceptive coverage"
- "Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be 'perceived as favoring one religion over another,' the very 'risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude."
- "The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield."