Dark Monday with Darker Days Ahead
On a very recent dark Monday in June, by a narrow majority (5-4), five male Supreme Court justices ruled in favor of the national crafting store Hobby Lobby and a small furniture making business that sued the federal government for the right to opt out of the no-cost contraception coverage provision of the Affordable Healthcare Act (AHA). They had specifically objected to four kinds of birth control they regard as inducing an abortion. What they got was at first touted by those signing the ruling as a narrowly crafted exemption, with even a suggestion to the administration that it figure out a way to pay for this preventive healthcare so as not to deny coverage completely for those females working for companies with faith-based objections.It was not long after the decision was issued, a day or so at most, before what might have seemed a most calculating slender decision — around a few methods of preventing unintended pregnancies and only for “closely held” corporations — was clearly much broader and even more odious. 14 other businesses were already poised to sue for the same religious exemption for a blanket variety of contraceptives. The definition of closely held corporation — a private company owned by five or fewer persons — was found to apply to more than 90 percent of all businesses. And the possibility of figuring a way for impacted women employees to still get free coverage dimmed by the hour as conservative religious organizations began arguing against any way to transfer the cost to another payee.
Besides the imagined ever expanding possible application of this ruling to other kinds of health care coverage frowned on by one faith group or another, it took almost no time at all before there was the hint, and more than a hint, that the religious liberty exemption argument might well be issued to discriminate against populations other than reproductive age women and for other than medical procedures.
As one of my ministerial colleagues posted on Facebook:
“It begins! Now a request for religious exemptions for hiring practices for LGBT folks from some well- established “Christian” institutions.”
The alarm had gone off concerning the potential for reversing some of the gains for our siblings in that movement: the ban on discrimination in providing goods and services in Arizona for one, if it could be proven that this was being done based on the religious beliefs of the business owners.
I posted a comment on his FB page saying that “IT” had begun that Monday mid-morning when the Hobby Lobby ruling had come down so decisively and contemptuously on the side of corporations (and in truth, the owners whose individual ideologies lead them to deny this basic preventive healthcare service to the women who work for them).
The misogyny. The physical and emotional damages.
We need to find ways to talk about the ripples of oppression and harm that may inevitably stem from this ill-considered verdict while not losing focus on the women in this country who were originally targeted.