Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hobby Lobby: Women's Rights Are Hurt

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hobby Lobby: Women's Rights Are Hurt

Article excerpt

Byline: Julie Delegal

The United States Supreme Court, in its Hobby Lobby ruling, raised disturbing questions about the relationships between employers, employees, physicians and insurers.

The court ruled that forcing family-owned companies to pay for insurance that covers contraception violates federal religious freedom laws.

The owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties sued the government because they didn't want to pay for employee health plans that included certain forms of contraception required by the Affordable Care Act.

They oppose abortion on religious grounds and argued they shouldn't have to share the cost of birth control methods that in their view cause abortions.

Hobby Lobby has no problem, however, investing in corporations that manufacture the verboten methods - Plan B, Ella, and IUDs - to the tune of $73 million.

CORPORATIONS OVER WOMEN

So who wins? Women employees who, the court concedes, should have unfettered access to birth control?

Or for-profit corporations, whose owners profess strong religious beliefs about certain medical treatments?

For this court, the free exercise rights of closely held, family-owned corporations trumped the reproductive privacy rights of individual women.

According to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Hobby Lobby decision marks the first time that free-exercise rights, whether statutory or constitutional, have been extended to for-profit corporations.

Ginsburg reminds us that corporations are merely legal instruments and not natural persons.

She observed that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga, unlike non-profit churches and synagogues, don't exist primarily to practice or propagate religion.

While the court majority gave more weight to corporate owners' religious preferences, Ginsburg gave more weight to the reproductive rights of women, citing evidence of the disproportionate burden women face when obtaining medical services. …

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