Tuesday, July 8, 2014


In its disgusting decision last week in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the United States Supreme Court said a company whose owner(s) have sincerely held religious beliefs against contraception can deny employees contraception coverage in its health care coverage.  The decision was what you might call a perfect storm among the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision of 2010, and religious imposition.  In other words, religious beliefs of owners trumping employees' beliefs in an alleged narrow definition while reaffirming corporate personhood.

Let me state here that, for a very long time, I though the judicial branch of government was far more trustworthy than the executive (President) and legislative (Congress) branches.  I now find all three branches untrustworthy, disinterested in doing the right thing for the greatest number of citizens.

The original complaint in this case was specific to four types of contraception, out of the twenty that are currently available.  (Obamacare covers contraception.)  Those four types were two "morning after" pills, Plan B and Ella, and two intrauterine devices or IUDs, ParaGard and progestogen IUD's, such as Mirena and Skyla.  Owners of Hobby Lobby believe that the use of these was tantamount to abortion, stemming from their belief that life begins at fertilization. 

The Supreme Court justices sided with Hobby Lobby.  Many observing the proceedings were very outspoken about their concern about how the alleged specificity of the decision could become more widely applied.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has been the most outspoken about the decision.  The following are from her written dissent:
  • She said the decision was "of startling breadth", recognizing its potential for a more expanded interpretation, citing issues of blood transfusions for Jehovah's Witnesses, anesthesia for some Muslims, Hindus, and Jews, among other issues for other religious business owners.
  • She noted, "Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community", highlighting the potential for discrimination based on religion.
  • "It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month's full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage."  Not only does this highlight the cost of an IUD itself, but also means that women will be, in essence, double-dipped for health care coverage ... paying for health care that covers contraception, although her employer denies her that, AND paying for IUDs.
Part of the argument made by Hobby Lobby (and Conestoga Wood Specialties, which was merged with Hobby Lobby on this case) was that the Affordable Care Act, specifically the part about providing for contraception, went against the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  That act prevents any action taken which places an unnecessary burden on anyone else's freedom of religion.  One of the impetuses for the Act was Native American lands, which are sacred to their religious beliefs, being encroached upon, although there are, and have been, other applications.

Let's apply this to the Hobby Lobby case.  Let's be clear that Hobby Lobby is not a religious entity; it is, first are foremost, a crafts store.  On its website they state that they are "[h]onoring the Lord in all [they] do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles", "[p]roviding a return on the owner's investment, sharing the Lord's blessings with our employees, and investing in our community", and they believe that "by God's grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured". 

Those are all statements of how part of their business sense is formed, which is fine.  They are not statements of Hobby Lobby being a religious institution.

In the light of the Supreme Court's ruling of last week, the Affordable Car Act likely bristles against the owners' religious beliefs and sensibilities, but it may or may not affect the entirety of it employees in the same manner.  Therefore, Hobby Lobby now has corporate personhood to decide for its employees, specifically its female employees, on what is a personal issue.  This is not to say that the owners of Hobby Lobby have to agree with the law, but they have to follow the law.  Contraception is not a corpersonal issue, if you will, but a PERSONAL issue.  Period.

Hobby Lobby is neither a religious institution nor a hospital.  Period.

While I can say plenty on the illegitimacy and destructiveness of corpersonhood, let me turn the corner and get to the meaning of the title of today's blog.  The Hobby Lobby decision is just the latest example of inequality specifically aimed at women.

The following is certainly not a thorough historical recap, but please follow my meaning:  The idea of staying away from a woman during her menstruation period, as her being "unclean", as expressed the time of biblical antiquity, is part of the chain.  Denial of a voice, or involvement of any kind, in church matters is part of the chain.  "Keep them barefoot and pregnant", "a woman's place is the home", and "a woman's place is in the kitchen" are all huge parts of the chain.  Denying women positions of higher authority is part of the chain.  Making less money in the same place of business for the same work being performed by male co-workers (addressed by The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009) is another huge part of the chain.  Last week's Hobby Lobby decision is the latest link in the chain.

The chain is the sustained subjugation of women.

Being a male, the chain does not affect me personally.  Still, it affects me as a human being and as a citizen of this country ... and, by extension, as a citizen of the world.  I'm no proverbial bleeding heart liberal, but I see no logic, no matter how far you want to stretch what "logic" means, in the subjugation of women.  If the tables were turned, for that matter, I wouldn't see any logic in the subjugation of men, either. 

Pardon my bluntness, but I just have to get it out this way because this irks me to no end:  Hey, men!  Men in power positions!  Listen up!  Defecation, vomiting, bringing up phlegm from your lungs when you have a nasty cold, sweating profusely from hard labor or exercising are all "unclean", but you don't have any religious mandates or laws regulating them.  If churches are for everyone who attend, they everyone must be at least given the opportunity for involvement of any kind.  Women are not solely or mainly good for nothing aside from being broodmares for the State.  Pay scales should be reserved for performance relative to a position and never have gender as a determining factor. 

Last but not least, men, stop telling women what to do with their bodies!  You do not own them!  You do not run them!  You are not in charge of them!  So, knock it off!  We are the better sex?  Better at what?  Subjugating women for inexcusably long sustained periods?  Wow, what a bragging right.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby case is the latest link in a long chain that should have never been assembled in the first place, should never have been added to, and should be unhooked and never reassembled again.