The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby has created quite a sir and everyone has something to say about it. Some support Hobby Lobby’s values, some claim Hobby Lobby has now been granted permission to override their female employees’ rights, and others don’t seem to think this case is a very big deal. The two most prevalent comments, however, are that Hobby Lobby does not cover birth control for female employees, and that Hobby Lobby does cover birth control. Well isn’t that confusing; which one is true? Technically, both are, but on the other hand, neither statement is accurate. And I must admit, I got caught up in the hype myself and said that Hobby Lobby does not cover birth control, so I feel I should correct myself and hopefully set the record straight.
First off, Hobby Lobby does cover contraception. They cover sixteen kinds in fact, including male condoms, female condoms, cervical caps with spermicide, spermicide alone, birth-control pills with estrogen and progestin, birth-control pills with progestin alone, birth control pills (extended/continuous use), contraceptive patches, contraceptive rings, progestin injections, implantable rods, vasectomies, female sterilization surgeries, and female sterilization implants. Secondly, Hobby Lobby does not cover contraception. Plan B, Ella (another emergency contraceptive), copper intrauterine device, and IUD with progestin are not covered in Hobby Lobby health plans.
“So what is the big deal?” someone might ask, “they cover sixteen out of twenty forms of contraception.” This big deal is those four forms of contraception that are not covered. The reason why there are twenty options of FDA approved contraception is because not every form of birth control/contraception is going to work for every person. For example, women with a family history of certain types of cancers probably should not take certain hormones for long periods of time which means a long term birth control pill, patch, or even vaginal ring may not be the best option. Copper IUDs are often a good alternative for women who do not want to be on hormonal birth control but do not want to have an invasive surgery which will sterilize them forever. If such a woman worked for Hobby Lobby, she would unfortunately be out of luck. And what if a female Hobby Lobby employee was raped and needed emergency contraception (aka: Plan B)? She would either have to pay for it herself or go without it if she could not afford it. Why should a rape victim be denied standard treatment (yes, emergency contraception is a standard treatment for rape victims just like an STI and HIV test) because her employer thinks Plan B is wrong? Isn’t that kind of heartless? Furthermore, Hobby Lobby is a company that sells craft supplies. Neither the company, nor any individual employee, CEO, owner, etc. is qualified to decide which forms of contraception is appropriate for each person who works for them. Contraception is something that should be discussed with a medical professional who knows the benefits and draw backs of each type and who knows a person’s medical history. Contraception is a private medical issue – not something your boss should be controlling.
While it is problematic that some forms of contraception are not available to Hobby Lobby employees, I feel the larger implications of the pro-Hobby Lobby court ruling are much more troublesome. Hobby Lobby claimed they do not cover Plan B, Ella, copper IUDs, or IUDs with progestin because of religious reasons. A company’s, not a human being’s, religious affiliation (I cannot say “belief” because how the hell can a company have a belief?) is now more important than an individual person’s healthcare. What if Hobby Lobby’s religious affiliation dictated they shouldn’t cover any forms of birth control/contraception? Or what if they did not believe in vaccination (as some religious institutions do not) and one of their employees stepped on a rusty nail? Should that employee be denied a tetanus shot because the company they work for is against vaccinations? Since when does a company’s ideology trump a person’s life? This ruling has set a dangerous precedent in the U.S. legal system: a company’s ideology is more important than their employees’ healthcare and maybe even their lives.