When women are healthy, the family is healthy. On June 30, in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, five male Justices imposed their own beliefs on the health and welfare of the female employees of Hobby Lobby (“Jews divided on Hobby Lobby decision,” WJW, July 3). The majority opinion based upon “vague moral objections” harms the rights and liberties of women and jeopardizes the health of the family unit. Permitting such broad “religious” exemptions elevates the rights of corporations over the rights of women and their health care choices.
Until this decision, freedom of religion was upheld as a personal right to express devotion to God and act upon the basis of reason and conscience. A private, for-profit corporation does not an individual make. A corporation cannot express reason, dignity, or conscience – all core to religious belief.
But worse than subjugating a woman’s individual religious liberties to that of her employer, the decision’s premise erodes her personal freedom to choose her own method of birth control. This is neither sound medical practice nor instrumental to the viability of a closely held for-profit business.
The majority opinion claimed this as a “narrow” decision, relating to only one “closely held” for-profit private company. But, such companies comprise 80 percent-90 percent of U.S. firms. Justice Ginsburg, in her dissent, pointed out that almost any closely held company now can claim religious orientation and seek to excuse itself from a myriad of different obligations. Indeed, on July 1, the court already issued orders in six cases to either reconsider rejections of employer claims, or let stand lower courts’ endorsements of those claims.
NJDC’s Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) knows when women succeed, the family and America will succeed. WLN will continue to work to make sure women, men and families have the tools they need to flourish – not languish.
BARBARA GOLDBERG GOLDMAN and ANN LEWIS
Co-chairs of the National Jewish Democratic Council’s Women’s Leadership Network