On June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Hobby Lobby, allowing the business to opt out of the federal requirement to include payment for their employees’ contraceptives in their healthcare plans.
This ruling states that the cooperation does not have to follow the law due to the owner’s religious beliefs. As a result, Hobby Lobby will not be paying for four types of birth control that were previously covered.
The four types of birth control that have now been excluded from the company’s healthcare plan were removed because they prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s womb which Hobby Lobby’s owners see as equal to abortion and that violates their religious beliefs (Fox News, Hobby Lobby Ruling: Why Supreme Court got it right, 6.30.14).
However, many often forget that birth control serves other purposes besides preventing pregnancy. Beyond using contraception for family planning, many women use birth control for medical reasons such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or ovarian cysts. It is estimated that at least 1.5 million women in the United States use birth control to help control a medical condition (Huffington Post, Reminder: Birth Control Does More Than Just Prevent Pregnancy, 6.30.14).
But women should not have to explain why they choose to use birth control. It’s none of my business if someone is taking birth control for health reasons and even if so, the reason is even so more not my business. All of this information is between a woman and her doctor, or so it used to be. Apparently now it is Hobby Lobby’s business. It seems times are about to change.
What is scary about the Hobby Lobby ruling is not only that a corporation’s religious beliefs are allowed to be forced upon an employee, for the Supreme Court has granted corporations the same rights as people, but that privacy of employees may now be even more violated.
I suspect it won’t be long until a company refuses (or at least files a lawsuit to refuse) to cover an employee’s spouse of the same sex because of religious regions that the employer does not believe in gay marriage. This ruling could give employers the ability to control even more aspects of their employees’ lives simply by claiming religious exemption.
I understand that the owners of companies have religious beliefs, but I don’t understand why those beliefs can be forced upon their employers. I do not understand why whether or not an employee is taking birth control, is an employer’s concern or within their jurisdiction. Yes they would be paying for something they don’t support, but in reality we do that all the time: We pay taxes we don’t like; we pay fees at doctor’s offices we don’t agree with.
I think the real issue here is control. It’s a person’s right to practice the religion of their choice, but it should not infringe on other’s rights.
This ruling may influence future rulings that could seriously divide the work world due to personal beliefs or lifestyles. If one needs an expensive prescription that is not covered by a certain company, they may not be able to work there.
This ruling is bound to create new complicated issues for the future, and this will most likely not be the last time we see a company try to have massive control over their employees—for religious reasons, of course.