A few years ago the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that corporations are people. Yeah, no kidding. Today, it ruled that those “people” can deny birth control coverage to their employees. Yeah, again, no kidding.
If you’re not familiar with these, you can read about corporations being ruled “people” here, and you can read about today’s horrible decision on birth control coverage here. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Welcome back. In case you didn’t read all of it, the basic idea is that health insurance in the U.S. is usually provided by companies for their employees. Yeah, that’s messed up, but it’s a discussion for another day. The federal government mandated that this health insurance coverage has to include preventative care, including things like cancer screenings and birth control. Birth control is incredibly controversial here in the U.S. (Maybe I’ll talk about my opinions of misogynistic policy-makers, pundits, and loudmouths another day.) A couple of family-owned companies sued, saying that birth control pills, IUDs, etc. could be assisting abortion (even though medical science says otherwise) and that therefore they are against the owners’ religious beliefs. They therefore believe they should not have to provide coverage that includes birth control pills, IUDs, etc. They argue that since it’s about their freedom of religion, they shouldn’t have to pay the penalties, either. And the court bought it. Or, at least, 5 male justices bought it.
The decision was written so that it was clearly meant to be narrow; it should apply only to these particular businesses and only to birth control. But we all know that the door is now open to any other business that wants to sue. And if the court rules that birth control is an “acceptable” religious objection but that pork-based pills or transfusions or whatever else isn’t an “acceptable” religious objection, then they’ll be showing preference for one religion over another. They can’t have that. So where would the line be drawn for healthcare coverage denials?
I have been railing against this ruling on Facebook all day. I am pissed off like you wouldn’t believe. In order to keep my cortisol levels from skyrocketing, I won’t get into this here today. I just want you all to be aware of this ruling. And to say that I believe this, above all else, to be true about the state of healthcare today for those who are not wealthy enough to afford care without insurance coverage:
Who should make decisions about my healthcare:
- My doctors/healthcare providers
Who actually makes decisions about my healthcare:
- My doctors/healthcare providers
- My health insurance company
- My disability insurance company (by denying a claim, they take away my health insurance)
- My government
- My employer
- Pharmacies (for example, Walgreens now insists on calling doctors to personally verify prescriptions for opioids)
See the problem?
What do you think about this ruling? How does it make you feel? And who else makes decisions about our healthcare? Who did I forget? Please share in the comments!
I’m enraged about several of their recent rulings, and this one pushed me over the edge into pure rage. (The buffer zone case really didn’t help either; I’m working on the campaign for the attorney general who was named in the case.) The only thing I’ve managed to post about it so far was “Fuck the Supreme Court,” because that was as coherent as I could manage to be under the circumstances. I will NEVER shop at Hobby Lobby again, and I’m going to try to work on campaigns for legislative fixes to both the rulings. Once I calm down enough, I’m going to sit down and read all the justices’ opinions so I understand their rulings, although some of them may make me want to set my brain on fire. (I’m looking at you, Scalia. And while we’re at it, why didn’t Thomas recuse himself? His wife is one of those “sidewalk counselors,” and that seems like a pretty clear conflict of interest.)
Good for you, Hope, for doing what you can to effect change! It really bothers me that I can’t do any of that right now, but I hope to in the future. I hope you’ll share any new insights or progress that you hear about as you work on these issues. I have to admit, celebrating Independence Day yesterday felt a bit dishonest. Yes, we have a lot more freedoms than many other countries, but I feel that some of them are being slowly eroded. It would have been much easier to celebrate last month, I think.
I’d been philosophically opposed to Hobby Lobby before this, for purely selfish reasons (they’re closed on Sundays).
Now, they are definitely and permanently off my radar, regardless of any conceivable price difference (just like Wal-Mart is).
I agree with you on Wal-Mart, Karen. I’d never heard of Hobby Lobby until this case came to the lower courts. Then there was the incident last winter when they refused to have any Chanukah supplies in their stories, only Christmas supplies. Many of my friends boycotted it just for that reason. I would too, if we had the chain here.
Rulings like this are pretty terrible. What if Jehovah Witnesses decide that they don’t want to pay for insurance coverage for people to get blood transfusions?
Ginsberg mentioned that in her dissent – if that’s ruled unacceptable then the court will be showing preference for one religion over another, which can’t be allowed, so the ruling is opening the door for all sorts of other denials. It’s pretty scary what else could be denied, but I think the denial of birth control is already going way too far. If the religion in question was anything other than Christianity and the medical practice in question was anything other than birth control then I truly believe the court would have ruled against the company.
I agree with you there.
A lot if good points here. Also, even if you take out the horrific sexism/misogyny/attempt to control employees’ sexual activities, birth control is used as medication for a variety of conditions, such as endometriosis. This decision disgusts me. Every other industrialized country has non-job-dependent, portable insurance. And workers here pay for the insurance out if their salaries … its not a “gift” from the employer.
I agree, Miss D, that our healthcare shouldn’t be tied in any way to jobs. It’s such a big reason for the problems in our system. But as for payment of that insurance, in most cases the employee pays some percentage of the insurance premium and the employer pays another percentage. Sometimes the employer pays 100%, sometimes 50%, sometimes some other amount. So yes, the employer does pay some part of the insurance premium. But it isn’t a “gift”, it’s part of the employee’s compensation! I feel cutting back on insurance coverage would be like reducing an employee’s salary if the employer didn’t approve of what the money was being spent on. It’s not the employer’s place to judge, even if they’re paying part of the premium.
Oh no, I wasn’t saying that employers paid nothing, just basically what you said — that at least part of it comes out of the employee’s salary (and I also realized I made a zillion typos in my comment, which is what I get for trying to comment from my phone). I was really confused as to why Hobby Lobby thought IUDs caused abortions. Then I found this article. Crazy. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/heres-why-hobby-lobby-thinks-iuds-are-like-abortions/284382/
What I never hear mention of is religious views on fertilized eggs that naturally don’t implant. That happens all the time and no one knows about it. So shouldn’t they be grieving all the time for those “losses”? And they shouldn’t be covering vasectomies based on their current reasoning, either. The whole thing just makes no sense.
In the UK after World War II the National health service was formed. The main principles still stand: the health service will be available to all and financed entirely from taxation, which means that people pay into it according to their means. It still works today and if you are unable to work you get free prescriptions ( £7.80 a script) and dentistry. It is not without it issues but I am so grateful for it.
I can not believe that the birth control issue would be debated and it does seem to open the door for other things to be excluded. It sickens me that you should have to fight for everything.
What I really wonder about, Lorna, is if there’s any issue in countries with systems like yours. Do people say they don’t want their tax money to be used to cover birth control, abortions, or other things they don’t “morally approve of”? We have rules saying tax money in the U.S. can’t be used to pay for abortions, so if you’re dependent on government insurance and you need an abortion, you need to find the money to pay for it yourself. Is there anything like that where you are?
There are groups who support anti abortion like pro life alliance and life. However, to get an abortion you get referred to the consultant at the hospital from your GP. I don’t know what the criteria is. You could also go private. For birth control I haven’t heard of many complaining apart from the Church. We have family planning centre where you can get free condoms, tests and information, also for under age girls. They can go without there parents permission and obtain birth control.
Sadly these days people go about not bothering about anyone else. Last week there was a story in the news that a women had lain dead in her flat for six years. Her windows were open and her car wasn’t there. The only reason they found her was because she defaulted on her mortgage payments. I was shocked! Don,t know how her neighbours feel?
It’s incredible out radically different our healthcare systems are.
That’s sad about that woman. I would guess that’s an unusual case though – most people would have a friend or relative who would notice if they went missing, I would think.
Exactly! They should NOT cover vasectomies. Or Viagra, for that matter. No, no double standard at all. Ugh.
Exactly. Talk about hipocrisy!