Vaughn: Hobby Lobby snips contraception, unspools legal system


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Health care has always been a sensitive topic — a slippery slope that gains a lot of attention when modified by businesses or the government. Hobby Lobby, a privately owned corporation, was able to alter what its employees’ health care covered thanks to the green light given by the Supreme Court.

The decision made it possible for Hobby Lobby to deny coverage for women’s contraceptives — more specifically, birth control and IUDs. While most will jump on Hobby Lobby for discrimination and pushing its religious beliefs on employees, the issue is much deeper. The Supreme Court failed to see the hypocrisy of Hobby Lobby’s demands, or if the five justices did see it, they acted in a way that deviated from honest decision-making.

Because corporations are considered “people” in the eyes of the law, they are entitled to rights listed in the First Amendment, are able to sue, and are able to be sued. This also means corporations are protected by the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act — the protection from laws that impede on a person’s right to exercise religion freely. According to an article published on Politico, Hobby Lobby claims that the Affordable Care Act placed an extreme burden on its religious beliefs. A corporation — a chain of stores existing and designed to turn major profit — allegedly had its religious beliefs trampled by the Affordable Care Act’s requirements regarding contraception. 

What Hobby Lobby failed to publicize, at least without the press digging for it, is that its 401k plans involve investments in numnerous companies — Teva, Bayer, and Pfizer — that produce contraceptive products such as Plan B.

So, while a corporation demands to have its religious rights to save money preserved by a U.S. amendment, it feels the need to, arguably on a much larger scale, promote the entities responsible for creating the products doing the impeding in the first place.

Adding to the mysterious and confusing back-and-forth of Hobby Lobby’s stance is the fact that the company actually provided contraceptive coverage for its employees before the Affordable Care Act became a reality. While laws remain in place, companies can change their views on a whim to float through loopholes, and the Supreme Court seems to agree.

The contraceptive methods discussed in the case — “morning-after” pills and intrauterine devices — supposedly impeded on the corporation’s religious stance against abortifacients — which, as you can probably guess, means methods relating to abortion. Worth noting is the fact that contraceptives are designed to avoid pregnancy and thus what is, by medical definition, abortion. But, again, a subjective stance on something was used to snake around objectivity.

The whole event becomes even more scummy when you consider how five elderly men decided against the rights of women to control their bodies. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the three female justices who had their opinions squashed, shared her concern publicly in what can only be seen as a brave and wonderful burst of honesty: “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”


What we have in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is a messy, conflicted, and pathetic example of how legal definitions can be overlooked, bent, and broken by subjective and easily converted views — views that allow religion, a personal decision — the right to save money at the expense of proper medical coverage.

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