Ashley Young, Why Hobby Lobby ruling should matter to HU women students, District Chronicles

Why Hobby Lobby ruling should matter to HU women students

By Ashley Young/Contributing writer
On September 29, 2014
The weather had shifted and the wind blew brisker than the previous month of August. Fall was approaching and the sense of change buzzed in the air. It’s what around 30 marchers felt as they gathered in front of the Supreme Court of the United States building in Washington, D.C. The routinely heavily guarded building swarmed with even more police officers who watched the scene unfold.

More than two dozen people responded to #Knitabrick tweets calling to march from the Supreme Court to Congress, demanding Congress to fix Hobby Lobby. Although the group was small in numbers, their yelps of “Boss’ religion? Not my job description!” filled First St.

They brought with them 1,500 knitted bricks and laid them down in three 15-foot-long rectangles. Their goal was to carry these bricks from the Supreme Court building to the Congress and that they did.

“The wall is a visual demonstration of people’s anger about the Hobby Lobby decision and it’s also a way to show Congress a visual reminder that they have the ability to change it,” said Lauren Anderson Youngblood, director of communications at Secular Coalition for America.

Each yarn brick was hand knitted and donated by people outraged by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which gave closely held companies the right to opt out of covering contraceptive they objected to on religious grounds.  The walls of knitted bricks represented the separation of church and state.

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby stated closely held, defined as a small number of shareholders, for-profit corporations could be exempt from providing certain coverage under the Affordable Healthcare Act mandate, like emergency contraceptive, if it violets sincere religious beliefs. The majority’s ruling was supported by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, of 1993.

Hobby Lobby is an arts and crafts store with over 600 locations nationwide and employs more than 23,000 people. It’s listed as number 135 out of 224 on Forbes’ America’s Largest Private Companies. As of Dec. 2013, the company earned $3.3 billion in revenue. On their website it states, “Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.”

The Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby has sincere religious beliefs that emergency contraceptive, like Plan B One-Step, is abortion. But an academic review by Princeton University states emergency contraceptives are not the same as abortion pills, like Mifepristone. Emergency contraceptives prevent pregnancy by delaying or inhibiting ovulation. It can take up to six days for an egg to become fertilized and that’s the reason emergency contraceptives work.

“Contraceptive is medically necessary for some women,” Anderson Youngblood said. “A women’s health shouldn’t be put in jeopardy. Her health care decisions shouldn’t be infringed upon. Her access to certain medicines and procedures shouldn’t be interfered with due to an employer’s personal religious beliefs.”

Women were not the only ones who showed up. Two men drove from Michigan, a nine hour trip, to participate in the march.

“It’s a matter of human rights,” said Austin Edwards, a junior Mechanical Engineer Major at Kettering University. More than a dozen men joined the cause on Tuesday.

Joy Wilson, a Howard sophomore sports management major said that many girls at Howard get their birth control for free. 

“If Howard was to take away access to free contraceptives, students would be very  upset because they lack insurance or the funds to pay for it on their own,” she said.  But she was unaware of the case prior to this interview. 

“If my employer were to deny me that right and that option, I would be personally offended,” said Lindsay Black, a Howard junior elementary education major.  ³I think that a lot of people have their opinions on if they are pro-life or pro-choice, but their opinions should not impinge on somebody else’s life.”

Black, too,  was unfamiliar of the case prior to this interview.

“Congress has the ability to change this disastrous decision by either appealing RFRA or by passing another piece of legislation that limits employers’ ability to impose their religious beliefs on employees,” said Anderson Youngblood.

There’s also fear other companies will use the exemption to opt out of paying for other medical medicines and procedures. 

“It’s a slippery slope,” said Anderson Youngblood. “For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse could refuse covering blood transfusions due to a moral code. According to the US National Library of Medicine, blood transfusions on average costs $343 per session. What if an individual has severe anemia and their company refuses to allow coverage because the owners are Jehovah’s Witnesses?”