Monday, June 30, 2014

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby

Busy day at the Supreme court, and the first one I will discuss is Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.

This decision is problematic, because they are saying any employer can opt out of a law because of religious beliefs. The biggest problem is here:

The court’s four liberal justices called it a decision of “startling breadth” and said that it allows companies to “opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
So, if I wanted to opt out of laws that prohibit me from killing someone and say it was my religious belief that I had to sacrifice a baby and a lamb on the third Wednesday of every month the Supreme Court's decision would say this is appropriate. Murder a little extreme? How about if I said that my neighbor's house offended my religion with its construction and burnt it down? Still extreme? I could go on, but this means that people don't have to follow the law if it doesn't fit with their religious beliefs perfectly. This opens the door to forced marriage from extreme groups (like what the Mormons did back when Joseph Smith was alive) and basically any group that wants to do anything they want. This is going to be overturned someday, but we are opening a dangerous precedent with this decision that extends beyond healthcare. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act which this decision is based on includes these types of dangers as well.

Another issue is how conservative religious groups are opposed to IUDs in general. IUDs are incredibly useful and since people are going to have sex anyways prohibiting IUDs is a pointless and frankly cruel decision. There is no law and there shouldn't be a law forcing anyone to use a IUDs, and prohibiting only IUDs is a very strange decision. This isn't protecting the religious freedom of those who are opposed to IUDs since it doesn't include other forms of birth control, but it is harming the ability for low-income families to access health products. This damages the government's ability to promote the general welfare, and misses the point completely on why we have laws to promote health in this country and that religious freedom does not include the right to impose your beliefs on others. Freedom of religion does not include imposing your religious beliefs on other which is exactly what this decision does. It shouldn't even be connected to abortion since wearing a IUDs to prevent pregnancy is a very different mechanism than an abortion. One would expect a religiously conservative Christian would be in favor of IUDs anyways since the Bible says nothing about IUDs (and in fact the only mention of abortion is in the Old Testament where it gives an ancient recipe to help a woman have an abortion) and if they were to follow Jesus' advice to love they neighbor would want to prevent unwanted pregnancies which when caused by rape or some other event can make a woman far worse off and struggle to pay the bills if she doesn't have a supportive partner and/or family. The very notion of opposing IUDs is contrary to the old Christian notion of charity (which is of course very similar to other world religions, Islam, Buddhism, etc.) and this type of behavior is what turns so many people off of religion when these people abuse these religious texts to take advantage of others.

One final complaint with the people who are anti-woman is how they are misappropriating feminist and abolitionist Susan B. Anthony who like me was of Quaker heritage, like me attended a Unitarian church, and is my 6th cousin a few times removed. Our heritage is that of working on the Underground Railroad, like everyone I know of in our family was a feminist at some level (even the more conservative members of my family turn out to be feminist when you grill them about specific feminist issues). Claiming that she was opposed to abortion which if they knew anything about us Quakers and Unitarians (not all of my family is UU, but I have met a good number of UUs who are of Quaker heritage and have found a significant number on our family tree) would know how very wrong they are to misappropriate my heritage. I don't swear on my blog, but this pisses me off! Stop abusing my heritage!

This opposition to IUDs has nothing to do with freedom of religion. It is a war against the poor and women. As a feminist I am very unhappy with this decision and its implications.

Update: 1 July 2014. This post originally stated that condoms were banned, this was factually incorrect and has been corrected to IUDs.

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