In the past week, the Supreme Court of the United States has decided on the health care of women in some drastic cases, and I’ve finally cooled down enough to discuss the matter at hand.
The case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is not as convoluted as people would like to think it is. Before I get ahead of myself, let me set the stage.
Hobby Lobby is a retail arts and crafts chain of stores owned by David Green, who claims to have built his business squarely on biblical principles. As such Hobby Lobby as a for-profit, money-making entity wants to not provide its employees with a health plan that requires Hobby Lobby to pay for contraceptives. According to their beliefs, they do not want to pay for contraceptives that they believed were similar to abortions. Now, before we all divide into the pro-choice/pro-life factions, that’s not what we should be divided on, so hold on for one more moment.
Before we throw down about this case, let’s set up some definitions.
Conception: People in any field define this differently but for the sake of this argument, conception is when the sperm meets egg, not when sex occurs. Eggs do not sit in Fallopian tubes waiting to meet sperm. But sperm can wait for an egg for days after sex. Therefore, conception is not at the moment of sex, rather when the sperm fertilizes the egg cell.
A contraceptive works only to prevent the sperm from meeting the egg.
Now, I am not going to begin to define abortion. People—myself included—will argue about this definition until the end of humankind. However, operating on the above definition of conception (a fertilized egg), let’s walk through the contraceptives Hobby Lobby finds to be against their religious beliefs.
They 20 FDA approved medications and procedures called into question only prevent fertilization, but once sperm meets egg none of the FDA approved medications and procedure can do anything. The 20 medications and procedures that Hobby Lobby owners did not want to pay for—through their health care provider—were not abortions or life-threatening to a fertilized egg or fetus. And here is a link to the list on Planned Parenthood if you would like to read for yourself on regularly updated information (the FDA’s website is a little dated).
However the four items Hobby Lobby no longer has to pay for out of the 20 FDA approved ones are: Plan-B, Ella, IUDs with progestin, and Copper IUDs.
Plan-B (aka the morning after-pill) stops a woman from ovulating. Will only work if a woman has not dropped her egg yet. For example: woman has phenomenal condom breaking sex on a Monday, takes the pill on a Tuesday, and would have dropped her egg (ovulated) on a Wednesday, she will not get pregnant because there would have been no egg out in the vagina for the sperm to meet and greet. Example 2: woman ovulates on a Friday, so the egg is sitting in her vagina ready to go. Woman has condom breaking sex on Saturday. And then woman takes Plan-B on Sunday, it will do nothing because the egg is already waiting for the sperm. Conclusion: Based on our previous definition of conception, Plan-B does not endanger the life of a conceived fetus, because it only prevents the egg and sperm from meeting, very much like condoms.
Ella is also a pill that stops a woman from ovulating. See process and conclusion from above.
IUD with progestin is an intrauterine, small, “T-shaped” device, made of flexible plastic that stops a woman from ovulating. See process and conclusion from above.
Copper IUDs is a copper intrauterine device, also small and “T-shaped” and also stops a woman from ovulating. See process and conclusion from above.
If a person is pregnant, they should not be using these products, but the fact is that they will not work to abort a baby once a said person is pregnant. I have not gone to medical school, and if you want to consult my knowledge of contraceptives, talk to a licensed doctor.
So we are left with three options for the origins of Hobby Lobby’s decisions. 1) Hobby Lobby does not want to pay for the medical needs of their female employees. 2) Hobby Lobby does not want women to have sex, especially their employees. 3) Hobby Lobby is misinformed about what constitutes contraception.
Holding on to those for a minute. The Supreme Court Justices Alito, Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas were part of the majority decision that believes Hobby Lobby, as a for-profit corporation can have religious rights and by extension does not have to provide their employees with the four aforementioned forms of contraception. Going through each scenario, let’s process the potential ramifications.
1) If Hobby Lobby doesn’t want to pay for the health care of their female employees in full, then the Supreme Court just approved discrimination based on gender for a basic human right.
2) If Hobby Lobby doesn’t want women to have sex, then the Supreme Court just approved sexism—because the contraception no longer provided can only be used by someone with female genitalia and infringes upon her rights to make decision regarding her own body—and the Supreme Court placed religious beliefs on a hierarchy. Hobby Lobby’s religious beliefs say no abortions and no premarital sex, but if an employee’s religious beliefs not only condone sex but encourage it, said employee can no longer practice their religious beliefs without first consulting Hobby Lobby’s religious beliefs first.
3) If Hobby Lobby is in fact misinformed about what constitutes contraception and what constitutes ending the life of a child, then the Supreme Court needs to take a health class, because regardless of where religious beliefs fall, life does not arise from sex alone, rather from sex (or other methods) that lead to a fertilized egg, which is not harmed by contraceptives.
With all of this information underway, we need to understand that regardless of Hobby Lobby’s motivations, what will come from this court decision are more unwanted pregnancies not less. All the studies show that better family planning—access to contraceptives and shear information—leads to happier, healthier lives and people. Women’s wants, religious practices, and basic health care have now been placed in the hands of her boss, rather than remaining in her control. Yes, women who work for Hobby Lobby still have access to 16 of the 20 forms of FDA approved birth control, but she should have had access to all of it, because different products work differently for different people, and should a woman have needed an IUD, she should have had it without having to pay out of pocket because of the religious beliefs of her boss that should have stayed far away from her ovaries.
This court case opened the flood gates for-profit corporations all over the United States to start denying women access to necessary medical care because of the religious beliefs of a few that were not being harmed in any way shape or form by the legal requirements of universal healthcare.
There’s something heartbreaking about the government—my government—taking away my citizenship. Because let’s be honest in saying that the Supreme Court’s decision with the Hobby lobby case did just that. When this country’s government began 238 years ago, I wouldn’t have been a citizen. I would have had a few kids and been a bitch of a house wife, but had nearly no rights. And it looks like we’re heading back to that structure, where I—a full grown adult—am incapable of consulting with my doctor—and my doctor alone—about my health.
This past week I was made a second class citizen—again, mind you—because five men believed that the religious beliefs of a for-profit figurative entity were of supreme importance, and that I—a human being with coincidental female genitalia—was incapable of making decisions about my medical needs. Cheers to 238 years of freedom.
Please, any thoughts for discussion, I would love to talk. Either comment below or shoot me an e-mail, tweet, etc.
Side note: I’ll soon be posting a page of my favorite links, informational videos and diagrams about sex and consent and all that jazz, because I think we all make better choices with more information so I will do my best to help spread that information.