Hobby Lobby’s opposition of contraception scrambles some eggs
Freedom of religion has existed as a prominent topic of debate since our nation’s beginning, and it has continued to grow into a more important issue.
This subject was pushed to the forefront after the Supreme Court heard arguments on March 25 regarding Hobby Lobby’s opposition to the coverage of contraceptives in the Affordable Care Act.
The ACA, commonly known as Obamacare, mandates that employers must provide health care for their employees, including contraceptives. Hobby Lobby has argued that this stipulation is incompatible with their religious beliefs, as it claims that certain contraceptives are a form of abortion.
Hobby Lobby has focused its opposition on Plan B contraceptives and said that “religious beliefs prohibit them from providing health coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices that end human life after conception,” according to The Guardian.
This has prompted the question of whether big businesses can have a religious preference.
According to the Business Dictionary, a corporation is defined as “an entity separate and distinct from its owners.”
Based on that definition, corporations should not be considered people by law and therefore should not have religious preferences that dictate decisions regarding health care that affect employees who may hold other beliefs. If corporations should remain truly separate from their owners, the courts would be unjustified in ruling in favor of them.
When a group of individuals form a corporation, they must recognize the laws governing corporations and look at the big picture.
The federal government has granted exceptions to the contraceptive mandate already to nonprofits and religious groups, but allowing for-profit corporations to selectively choose which laws to follow creates chaos.
Though the owners of Hobby Lobby — David and Barbara Green — claim Obamacare hinders their personal beliefs, a ruling in favor of the business will consequently impede upon the rights of their employees.
In defense of the administration, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli views the rights of the employees to be most important, according to CNN.
“In the entire history of this country, there is not a single case in which a for-profit corporation was granted an exemption on religious liberty grounds when that would harm the rights of others,” Verrilli said.
Refusing to cover certain contraceptives focuses discrimination against women and their sexual rights.
Co-president of the National Women’s Law Center Marcia Greenberger sees a strong interest in contraception coverage for women.
“Access to birth control increases women’s participation in the workforce and contributes to an increase in women’s wages,” Greenberger said, according to CBS.
Gender inequality is already evident in a wage gap, and if the court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby, it will create a health care gap as well.
The entire concept of the Affordable Care Act is to ensure that health care is provided for everyone, and if a corporation is allowed to pick and choose the coverage it gives to its employees, its purpose is defeated. This case seems like a conservative ploy to diminish the Democrats who pushed it into law.
This case is also reminiscent of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1062, which would have allowed business owners to exercise their religion by discriminating against people in the LGBT community. Courts ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby’s arguments could potentially bring that bill back onto the table.
Using religion as an argument could lead to a broad ruling that creates precedence for discrimination and oppression within businesses.
“One religious group could opt out of this, and another religious group could opt out of that, and everything would be piecemeal and nothing would be uniform,” said Justice Elena Kagan, according to Politico.
While freedom of religion is an important part of First Amendment rights, for-profit corporations using their religious principles to dictate health care impedes upon the freedom of the employee.
The religious preference of the owner of a company does not always reflect the beliefs of their employees. Not every employee of Hobby Lobby shares the views of the Green family; therefore, it is unjust to force those beliefs through limiting health care.
It should not matter that the owners of Hobby Lobby object to contraceptives. Their beliefs should not limit the prosperity of their employees or their access to health coverage.
If corporations are allowed to have religious preference, it affects employees and obstructs their freedoms. In order to achieve true freedom of religion on a large scale, it is imperative that big businesses back off and allow the people to decide for themselves.
For a business owned by Christian conservatives, they seem pretty judgmental of their staff’s decisions.
Perhaps crafting is the new sexy.
Opinion columnist Amber Hewitt is a print journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]