Jul 01 2014

How Hobby Lobby and the Supreme Court Have Legalized Discrimination Against Women

Two major concepts were at play in the Supreme Court’s ruling on Hobby Lobby yesterday: One, that the constitutional right of freedom of religion includes the right to deny women contraceptive coverage, and two that corporations are people, so that religious freedom applies to them. Legally, that worked out to a clash between the Affordable Care Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In a 5-4 decision, Justices determined that a for-profit corporation can exempt itself from providing certain forms of contraception to its workers as mandated in President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act.

The two corporations in the case included Hobby Lobby, a craft-supply national chain store, and Conestoga Wood Specialties. According to the majority opinion, the justices believe that the companies, “have sincere Christian beliefs that life begins at conception and that it would violate their religion to facilitate access to contraceptive drugs or devices that operate after that point.”

Congress had already passed an exemption for non-profit religious organizations to excuse themselves from respecting women’s reproductive rights. The Court extended that exemption to for-profit corporations. Politico described the ruling as “a huge black eye for Obamacare, the administration and its backers,” that “marks the first time that the Supreme Court has allowed companies the ability to declare a religious belief.” Republicans have hailed the decision as a major victory.

GUEST: Jodi Jacobson, editor-in-chief of RH Reality Check, a daily publication providing news, commentary and analysis on sexual and reproductive health issues

Visit www.rhrealitycheck.org for more information.

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