Nicole Guerrieri


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Why Burwell v Hobby Lobby Matters To Me

Here’s my big issue with the ruling. For-profit corporation’s religious beliefs should not be defended because corporations don’t have religious beliefs. People have religious beliefs, or not, and corporations have mission statements, goals and objectives. The man, or family of men, who run Hobby Lobby have commonly shared personal or religious beliefs that drive their moral decisions every day and get them out of bed, but the corporation itself is a legal shell for those people to account for their profitable transactions, manage their funds, pay employees, and file taxes. And as a part of this legal agreement, the government says they have to do certain things – like provide their employees a certain level of health care benefits, vacation days, so many breaks per hour, etc. 

Whatever happened to it’s business, it’s nothing personal? I prefer it that way. That way, I can work for any company I choose, be an excellent employee and in exchange expect a fair benefits package – regardless of that company’s “beliefs”. Which, to reiterate, do not exist because a company is a thing that has 0% capacity for believing, or thinking, or feeling.

Now, to that you may say, but some companies stand for things and that defines their “corporate culture”. If you work for a company, out of necessity, say, that has a culture that differs from your own lifestyle, that should in no way influence the healthcare package they offer you. Historically, this has been true. But now a precedent has been set that anthropomorphizes corporations, which does a couple of things in matters of business: first, it sets belief above science, or fact. When you’re talking health care, this is very dangerous; and second, it sets belief above employee rights. Outside of the Hobby Lobby example, this could be a literal lethal combination for someone who can’t afford the out of pocket expense for a medication their employer doesn’t “believe” in.

Something I have noticed in these conversations I’ve been having about the issue is that people seem very far removed from the realities of living on minimum wage. And that somehow there is wasteful spending going on. Or that a minimum wage employee could somehow come up with an extra $500 for an IUD (some articles have said up to $1000, but if you’ve got insurance, I would hope your appointment would be covered, at least?) So, for the purposes of consistency let’s just say $500 for an IUD.

I’m not sure how many people you know with minimum wage jobs, but I know or have known quite a few throughout my life. And I can attest that wasting money is not an option because when you work a minimum wage job you just don’t have any money to waste. Period. It’s not an option, so you go without. If you are religious, this may lead you to say, abstinence then! 

Let’s be honest, since the beginning of time abstinence has never worked. We wouldn’t be here if it did! Sex feels good for a reason – so we’ll want to do it more, thereby furthering the population of ourselves. It’s one of our most basic drives, and to expect people to just not do it until they want a baby is like saying, don’t drink until you *want* to pee.

OK, condoms then. Condoms break. And, why, should that be my best option just because I can’t afford an IUD? This leads me to my second big issue with the ruling which is about women’s reproductive rights, and women’s rights, in general.

It is insane that any man would feel like he had enough knowledge about women’s reproductive health to make a choice for any woman unless he were her doctor. I’ve heard the reply (in favor of the corporation) would you want the government coming into your house and telling you what to watch on TV because it was better than what you were watching? This could just as easily be changed to, would you want your employer coming into your doctor’s examination room telling you what medication was right for you because the Supreme Court said he could? Only the sad thing is, my example is actually what’s going to happen to the women of Hobby Lobby, because by limiting a woman’s options, they are also telling her what to take – for reasons of limited income explained above.

Reproductive health is a complicated thing for women, and we only learn about it out of necessity! For example, I’ve gone for a yearly OB/GYN check up to make sure everything’s running right down there since I was about 18. Yet, it was only a few years ago – in my thirties – that I learned I had a tilted uterus. I have no idea what that means, but my doctor did, and he reassured me that it was nothing to worry about and that some women just have it. My point here is that I am still learning about my body, how can a man who has no interest or need to learn about women’s reproductive health make a decision for what’s best for his employees? And the answer is always, he can’t.

I am 37 and single, and I will never take the pill or any other form of birth control again, besides using condoms, but for me at this point in my life getting pregnant would not hinder my opportunities. It would create a new one I’m looking forward to. But, I also own a home, have a bit socked away for retirement and feel financially “comfortable”. I wasn’t always this way. I worked very hard to get here – working three to four jobs right out of college, spending many years commuting to New York City for nearly six hours a day, and climbing the corporate ladder – all the while having lots of protected sex. It’s because of birth control and my loving, supportive family that I was able to take advantage of these opportunities and pursue a career.

When people ask, what’s the big deal, what they need to do is look outside of their own little world and consider that not all of us share the same circumstances. That just because paying $500 out of pocket for a medication that is necessary for your reproductive health may not be a big deal to you, it is a huge deal to the woman who can’t.  Or that not everyone has a loving family or partner, or a partner at all, that can help support her when she has a child. That for these women, this decision closes doors that were once open to them. And even though this case has absolutely no impact on me, right now, it matters to me that women across the nation without voices are being impacted. And, honestly, I’m surprised it doesn’t matter to more Americans. On this week, where we celebrate our freedoms, it seems to me that we all have less to celebrate.

1 thought on “Why Burwell v Hobby Lobby Matters To Me”

  1. Connie Martinez says:

    A voice of reason, in an unreasonable world! Please, submit this to all the big papers, and local “Letter’s to the Editor”. It is very true that a lot will not publish it, but some will. There is power in the word, as you so well know.

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