In an order issued Tuesday, the Court said it would take up a case brought by the Oklahoma City-based craft store chain Hobby Lobby, in which the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals said contraceptive coverage was a violation of religious liberty, regardless of the fact that Hobby Lobby is a corporation and not an individual. (This refers back to the Citizens United case where it was essentially ruled that "corporations are people.") At the same time, the Court will hear a case brought by the Mennonite cabinet maker Conestoga Wood Specialties, in which the Third Circuit said that corporations don’t have religious liberty.
It's not contraception itself that Hobby Lobby objects to. The company does not object to funding other forms of contraception, such as condoms and diaphragms, because they do not have hormonal effects. Hobby Lobby believes any form of hormonal birth control has the possibility to prevent implantation and thus is a form of abortion.
Nearly 50 pending lawsuits have been filed in federal court from various corporations challenging the birth control coverage benefits in the "Obamacare" law.
This case is so important because it's about far more than whether or not women can get birth control via their employer's insurance. It asks many more questions, such as:
Does an employer have the right to dictate your religious beliefs?
Should the court decide that this service is something employers can decide for their employees, what else can employers decide regarding their lives?
What if an employer objects to another form of medical treatment such as blood transfusions or chemotherapy because of religious beliefs? Can coverage of those treatments be denied?
Because the Affordable Care Act is a law can a person or corporation refuse to comply with other laws because of their religious beliefs?`
Will this lead to further restrictions on birth control because of the belief that any hormonal birth control is a form of abortion?
"Should the court decide that this service is something bosses can decide for their employees, what else can bosses decide?" said Judy Waxman, vice president of health and reproductive rights at the National Women's Law Center. "Can they decide they don't want to cover vaccines or HIV medications? Can they say, 'I don't believe in these kinds of wage and hour rules?' To say, 'Yes, a corporation can impose its religion on employees' -- that can have very far-reaching implications."
As pagans we already have to fight for equality in the workplace even though we have protection by the law regarding our religion. (See Rights of Pagans and Wiccans in the Workplace) As women, we are already fighting a war on women regarding our access to health care. To me, if the Supreme Court rules that a corporation can break law because of their religious beliefs, I fear that our very constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion will be eroded and it will lead more draconian laws on our religious freedoms as well as our rights as women.
Those on the opposing side are arguing that the Affordable Care Act violates their religious freedom. Is a corporation or an owner of the corporation's religious beliefs protected by the Constitution? The issue here is whether or not a corporation has the same religious rights as an individual. The issue is whether someone or a company can use religion to pick and choose what laws they want to follow.
I know I don't usually blog about politics. I limit my views about politics to my Facebook page but the importance of this Supreme Court case cannot be understated. I want to make everyone aware what is happening because depending on how the Supreme Court rules, religious freedom as we know it may completely change.
Sources: MS-NBC, CNN, Huffington Post