Corporate choices should not trump personal
Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard preliminary discussions of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby is a chain of craft stores throughout parts of the United States. Hobby Lobby argues that the company should not have to provide certain types of birth control to their female employees, despite that birth control being included in the employees’ health insurance, because doing so violates the company’s religious beliefs. This argument hinges on the idea that companies have a certain level of personhood and can have religious beliefs at all.
There are several problems with this argument. First, it prioritizes corporate choice over personal choice. By Hobby Lobby’s logic, the company has the right to restrict the choices of many individuals who work for them, based off the company’s religious beliefs, which are actually the religious beliefs of the owners themselves. Passing this ruling would not lead to an increased allowance of choice in the United States, it would merely narrow the playing field of who is allowed to make those choices.
Second, restricting access to emergency contraceptives, such as Plan B or ella, in addition to IUDs, discriminates against female employees.
The company’s owners can feel, however, they like about birth control in their personal lives. Nevertheless, those beliefs absolutely do not give them the right to prevent women from taking a medication that they might require, either for preventing pregnancy or for a myriad of other medical benefits, such relief from excessive acne or severe menstruation pains, as well as a dramatically lower risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer.
Beyond even the medical issue presented by this case, Hobby Lobby’s argument is that the company’s supposed religious freedoms allow for such discrimination against female employees. This ruling would have no effect on male employees; no one is arguing that companies should not have to pay for male employee’s Viagra.
All of the members of Hobby Lobby have a right to their religious beliefs, including both the owners of the company and the average employees. However, one of those groups does not get to choose for the other.