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Tuesday: All Eyes on the Supreme Court

Posted by Ryan Morgan on March 24, 2014 at 4:20 PM
While we in South Carolina prep for Bee Day and more discussions on reforming comprehensive health education in our state, the rest of the nation will be watching the US Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the Court will hear Hobby Lobby vs. Sibelius and Conestoga Wood vs. Sibelius – two lawsuits that claim that corporations are entitled to their own freedom of religion that supersedes the rights of American women. Both companies want to deny coverage of contraception for their employees (but have no problem covering Viagra and other male enhancement options – see the Daily Show clip below) because they (as individuals) object to contraception on religious grounds. They claim that the government requirement of contraception coverage violates their freedom of religion. This is not the first time that this argument has been made. Ian Millhiser posted the following on ThinkProgress earlier this week:
Nearly three decades ago, the Fremont Christian School claimed a similar right to deny health coverage to its female employees, citing its religious beliefs as justification for doing so. Fremont Christian’s case does bear one important difference from Hobby Lobby’s, however, they did not just want to deny birth control to their employees — they wanted to deny all health coverage to many of the women in their employ.   Fremont was owned by a church which claimed that “in any marriage, the husband is the head of the household and is required to provide for that household.” Because of this belief, they had a very unusual compensation package for their employees — though Fremont offered a health plan to its workers, the plan was only available to “heads of households” which Fremont interpreted to mean single people or married men. When a woman became married, she was to rely on her husband for health care.
And if a woman doesn’t marry? Or what happens if she is widowed? Does her father retain the right to decide about his daughter’s healthcare? IS there an age limit, or are we really thinking that a 45 –year-old woman may seek the permission of her father for medical care As Mr. Millhiser puts it:
Offering one set of employee benefits to men and a different, inferior package to women is a blatant violation of federal civil rights law, which prohibits employers from “discriminat[ing] against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” While Fremont claimed that their religious liberty gave them a trump card, a federal appeals court disagreed. “Congress’ purpose to end discrimination,” the court explained, “is equally if not more compelling than other interests that have been held to justify legislation that burdened.
Religion is not a license to discriminate. True religious freedom gives everyone, no matter who they work for, the right to make personal decisions, including whether and when to use birth control, based on their own beliefs and on what is best for the health and the well-being of their families.

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