I would be remiss if today’s post was not about the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. In a nutshell, the decision stated that the government cannot require closely held for-profit companies, like Hobby Lobby, to violate their religious beliefs. Hobby Lobby, which is owned by the Green family, who are Christians, felt its religious beliefs were being violated by having to provide coverage to employees for four types of birth control, including morning-after pills and IUDs. These forms of both control are abortifacients, which means they work after an egg has been fertilized. That, under the beliefs of the Green family, is a violation of Christian principles.
The biggest problem with this decision (in my opinion, anyway) is that for-profit companies have now been given the same status as religious institutions. Now, if a religious institution wants to take certain forms of birth control off their health-care plan, that’s fine by me. The people working at those religious institutions almost certainly hold the same religious beliefs as the institution. For-profit companies, however, hire employees who need a job, not employees who are there for religious purposes. And if these family-run companies now have the ability to make health-care decisions based on religious beliefs, how long will it be before all for-profit companies have the ability to make the same decisions?
Salon published an article about the highlights of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent, which address some of these same issues. According to the article’s summary of Ginsburg’s dissent:
“Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. … The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.”
“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.”
Salon ends with Ginsburg’s views of how the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been distorted:
“In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ. Persuaded that Congress enacted RFRA to serve a far less radical purpose, and mindful of the havoc the Court’s judgment can introduce, I dissent.”
This decision has opened the door even wider for religion to take precedence over women’s rights. Every time it seems like women gain ground on our right to control our bodies, something like this happens, and we have to fight that much harder to regain our rights.
I am not protesting religion. I myself am a practicing Jew, and I find great comfort and community from religion. I also know many Christians who are great people and great friends and with whom I have wonderful and intellectual discussions regarding religion. But I also believe we live in a day and age where we have realized that those living in the time the Bible was written lived under very different circumstances. If we still followed the Bible to the letter, we would be killed for cursing our parents. Seriously. According to Leviticus 20:9, as it is written in the New International Version, “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head.” According to that law, how many of us would be dead now? I certainly would.
The decision has been made, and now we, those women who believe that we, and we alone, should be able to control our bodies, have a decision to make as well. We have to decide whether we will sit back and continue to allow decisions like the Hobby Lobby case to be made or whether will stand up and fight for rights. What will you decide?