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article imageOp-Ed: Why the Hobby Lobby ruling is bad for employer-based insurance

By Nicole Weddington     Jul 9, 2014 in Health
Something big happened on June 30; something that will affect employees of companies like Hobby Lobby in ways that have angered a lot of people.
The Supreme Court approved the right for corporations to refuse to offer insurance plans that include birth control in their coverage, based on religious preferences. Hobby Lobby in particular is against what are known as “emergency contraceptives – like Plan B or ella…or IUDs.”
Since abortion conflicts with their religious views, they have been granted the freedom to refuse health insurance coverage that includes these contraceptives.
This ruling is significant — perhaps a better word would be “detrimental” — because it’s the first time that the Supreme Court has given corporations a moral freedom that should really only be given to individuals.
The principle behind Hobby Lobby’s refusal of coverage is where the problem lies. It has to do with what we choose to define as “religious freedom”: does it simply mean that people are allowed to adhere to any religion they choose? Or does it mean that they’re allowed to impose their own beliefs on others? Does an employer have the right to police what types of health insurance benefits its employees receive?
This has been the topic of blazing hot debate ever since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of this practice on June 30. Its a ruling that flies in the face of principles held by many international medical insurance companies.
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In recent years, the Court’s majority vote has infamously approved free speech rights to corporations that have been subjects of intense debate: in 2010 the Court voted that corporations could spend money on political elections as freely as individuals do, and in 2011 they approved the sale of prescription information from data-mining groups to drug companies to market their products.
These decisions were questionable enough on their own, but with this new ruling they’re giving corporations the right to impose their religious beliefs on their employees, effectively becoming exempt of certain restrictions in the Affordable Care Act; and that’s extremely problematic.
The issue is as much about refusing to offer emergency contraceptives as it is about getting away with rejecting anything that goes against a corporation’s religious beliefs, which of course becomes exclusive of other beliefs practiced by groups of its employees, or those who aren’t religious at all. Where does the Court expect the line will be drawn?
If religious climate change deniers are in charge of a corporation, will they be allowed to ignore a need to monitor and regulate their carbon emissions? Eugene Volokh’s observation is that “beyond this, ‘the free exercise [of religion]’ [as expressed in the First Amendment] can’t mean freedom to do whatever your religion commands. What if it commands murder of blasphemers? Theft? Statutory rape? What’s to stop people from [claiming] religious exemptions from human sacrifice laws?”
Finding a solution to this problem is quite complicated, even for the government, the lawyers and everyone else attempting to combat this issue. While people should be allowed to practice any religion they choose, corporations shouldn’t have the right to cherry-pick what benefits their employees receive based on their personal religious views.
As Ron Fein points out, “corporations are not people. They’re legal entities. They were not ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,’ as Thomas Jefferson put in the Declaration of Independence. Rather, they’re useful economic structures created and controlled by state law.”
It’s important that this issue be chastised and challenged as much as possible. For now, the way we can resist them is by simply not doing business with them and refusing to work for them. The imposition of religious beliefs upon others is a destructive and relatively useless practice that goes against the freedom expressed in the Constitution.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about Health insurance, obamcare employer insurance exemption, Healthcare, hobby lobby
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