Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said it best when she quoted Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania vs. Casey court case expressing her dissent on the Hobby Lobby decision made on Monday, June 30, 2014.
“The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.”
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that closely held companies with religious objections can opt out of providing contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court’s majority also rejected the Obama administration’s argument that for-profit companies cannot assert religious rights under Religious Freedom Restoration Act. As the RFRA only refers to persons, closely held companies are designating themselves as persons in the case. Closely held companies such as Hobby Lobby are owned by one person or are family owned business and are not a publicly traded company. Justice Sonia Sotomayor agreed with Justice Ruth Ginsburg’s dissent that companies do not have such rights – publicly traded on not.
The Burwell v. Hobby Lobby was about asserting patriarchal power and retaining profit–not about religious freedom. The Obama administration argued that the contraception requirement was not a mandate because companies could have dropped their insurance coverage and offered their employees another insurance option. The truth to Hobby Lobby is they wanted to have the privileged advantage of tax breaks offered under the Affordable Care Act while securing more money by skirting the contraception requirement under the cloth of religious freedom.
As companies act as people to protect their “religious freedom,” who is protecting the people’s religious freedom? For women of deep faith, who is protecting their women’s right to choose? Where is women’s spiritual freedom to bring forth or not bring forth life into this world? Hobby Lobby and similar companies are placing themselves at the spiritual decision table, and they were not invited.
Senate Majority Leader Reid promised to try to restore the contraception coverage. “We will continue to fight to preserve women’s access to contraception coverage and keep bosses out of the examination room”. To add to his statement, bossesalso should be kept away from the prayer table. Company’s intrusion on women’s rights to contraception under the cloth of religion is another example of religious patriarchy instituting that women are unable to make decision about their bodies and their faith.
The Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case is another example that religious patriarchal culture is not equipped to acknowledge women’s religious freedom. This one-sided perception is out of touch with the spiritual, mental and emotional support women need. Religious patriarchal culture is about power and less about spiritual wisdom. This power struggle leaves religious followers at odds with their own religions and those that use religion as a weapon.
The issue of a closely held company having an issue with paying for free contraception to their employees under the Affordable Care Act could have been resolved in a better way. If divine wisdom was used, Hobby Lobby-type companies could have offered their employees’ other health care options. Instead Hobby Lobby played the patriarchy card to put money in their pockets and block women’s access to be the decision maker of their own bodies.
Qumyka Rasheeda Howell is an award winning philanthropist, educator, speaker, poet and writer. She is the Founder and Director of Innocence Stolen Innocent Still (I.S.I.S.) Foundation and the innovator behind I.S.I.S. Foundations’ multi award winning Art eNergy Karma Healing (ANKH) programs that has empowered survivors across the country. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the New York State Coalition against Sexual Assault and the first Leadership, Empowerment and Advancement cohort for the Women of Color Network and the California Coalition against Sexual Assault.
Qumykas’ life’s journey is to seek opportunities to forward her mission through art, contemplative thought and social change for all of humanity. See more of her work at www.TheISISFoundation.com and catch up with her on twitter @QumykaHowell .