The Supreme Court today ruled that privately held corporations (at the very least) could not be compelled by the Affordable Healthcare Act to provide contraceptive and abortifacient coverage to their employees if it violates the religious convictions of the corporate owners. Already the press is hard at work depicting this as a monumental blow to women’s rights. This despite the fact that the right didn’t even exist a few short years ago, and this despite the fact that requiring such employee-sponsored coverage is an equally monumental blow to freedom of religion.
Had the court ruled differently, it would have in essence affirmed the current administration’s stance that religious people who start businesses have no right to allow those religious beliefs to guide their business operations.
Press coverage is amazingly skewed. Consider this single, brief article.
“Many religiously affiliated employers were already exempt from the requirement.” – Actually, no. Only institutions and organizations with the primary purpose of providing religious services were exempted. Basically, churches – not church-affiliated institutions such as hospitals, educational institutions, etc.
“some for-profit companies don’t have to pay for contraceptives either” – The implication being that any for-profit company clearly has an obligation to offer such services, or to be forced to abide by whatever regulatory decrees the government finds useful. Why is it that seeking to make a profit is treated in a derogatory fashion, as though somehow someone with religious convictions that drive their personal and business ethos is unimaginable?
I’d take serious issue with the assertion that this ruling affects millions of women. The small number of largely small, private companies that might seek protection under this ruling is not likely to impact anywhere close to millions of women.
Those who decry this decision once again seek to frame women as victims. Women must be guaranteed that these services, which until alarmingly recently were nowhere, by no one, considered a right of all working women. As a man, I find it offensive that after 50 years of gains in women’s rights, women continue to allow themselves to be portrayed as victims.
Here’s a novel thought – if free contraceptive and abortifacient coverage is important to you as a woman, then work for a company that provides such coverage. There are plenty of them now. I daresay the majority of major employers in the US won’t consider rolling back this coverage. Work for one of those companies! Women in the workforce are free to choose where they work, based on what sort of benefits the company offers. Nothing new here.
I’m thrilled for the court’s decision. Not because I disrespect women, but because I respect women and their ability to make choices about the type of work they want to do and who they wish to do it for. I also respect deeply the idea that the owner of a company should be allowed to provide jobs to others without violating important aspects of their faith.