Whether you are a friend or foe of the Hobby Lobby decision handed down by the United States Supreme Court this past Monday, citizens must know the very real and far-reaching consequences of the decision.
This decision has very broad ranging effects on employer and employee rights concerning access to many health care situations. The foundation of what the Supreme Court decided – that the religious beliefs of the employer can dictate what health care coverage is provided to their employees – can now be freely applied to an unlimited number of medical conditions.
Individuals are entitled to their religious beliefs, and the following statements are not meant to disparage any belief. Different religions, in many cases, have very different beliefs about aspects of medical care, diagnosis and treatment. If you accept that very basic premise, it is unlikely you were one of the people holding signs outside the Court. The protesters outside the court cannot accept or are unwilling to appreciate that those different religious beliefs could affect basic medical treatment coverage – for care or medical options that they believe is appropriate for themselves and others – or they would not have been voicing support for the Hobby Lobby decision.
Three years ago, for reasons unnecessary for this blog, I needed a blood transfusion because my hemoglobin level was dangerously low. Fortunately, my five siblings have the same blood type and I received the transfusion, the cost of which was covered by my health insurance. Had my employers been members of a religion that, for example, do not believe in blood transfusions under any circumstances, they could have decided it was not a part of my health care plan and denied me coverage for it.
Life presents many challenges and often those experiences sometimes dictate counseling is necessary to effectively deal with the issues an individual is facing. After yesterday, if the people running the company where you work subscribe to a religion that does not believe in mental health counseling or who do not believe in the value of counseling outside of that church, that option might no longer be a part of your health plan coverage.
If my bosses were part of a religion that believed their prayer is the only appropriate treatment for every medical condition; that would mean it does not matter what your medical needs or decisions are, their religious beliefs – although the company is a for-profit or publicly-traded company and not a religious organization – trump your right to make your own personal medical decisions.
What the Hobby Lobby decision means, is not just to women, not just about birth control, that’s what it means to all of us. It means the Court has decided to humanize corporations again and this time imbue them with religious beliefs that now apply to every person employed there, believer or not.