Monday, June 30, 2014

On Equality

It's not every day that someone else's decision makes me so infuriated, so incredibly frustrated that I can't function until I write about it. But then, it's not every day someone else's decision directly affects half the population of this country, myself included.

In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court of the United States essentially granted personhood to corporations today. By a five-four ruling, SCOTUS has declared that a corporation can deny birth control coverage to its female employees if the owner of the company finds it morally wrong. There are so many reasons I'm furious, but I'm just going to list a few.

First, this opens the door for personhood appellations in a lot of icky and gross ways. What if the owner of a corporation feels women shouldn't work for religious reasons? Or their religion tells them that people with disabilities should work? Or gays, or minorities, or Jews, or any other protected class as recognized by the 18th amendment? I realize this is rather reactionary, but the way that SCOTUS works is on precedent, and this has set an extremely harmful precedent. UPDATE: From the Dissenting opinion, by Justice Ginsberg:

"Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today's decision."

Second, forget Roe V. Wade. It's now legal to deny birth control let alone abortions. And let's be clear what specifically we're talking about here: Plan B, commonly called the Morning-After Pill. When taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, Plan B can stop ovulation, fertilization, and/or implantation of a fertilized zygote in the uterine wall. *Can*. It is not 100% effective, as a friend of mine and her daughter can tell you. Hobby Lobby argued that in the eyes of their owners, Plan B was an abortion pill which it fucking is not. (Those sources are Princeton, Christianity Today Magazine, and NPR, by the way).

Let me break it down for you: The owners of Hobby Lobby hold opinions which have been proven to be incorrect in multiple peer-reviewed studies. Regardless of this, they fought all the way to the Supreme Court, and instead of being laughed out, SCOTUS backed them, and now any woman who works for a "closely-held" corporation (meaning no separation between the company and the people who own it), can be denied basic birth control because her boss disagrees with it.

All of this is maddening enough. But Justice Alito's suggested solutions were just plain insulting, dumping the burden of closing the gap in coverage on the government or the insurance companies, instead of on the employer like the rest of the nation. 

But the worst salt in the wound, the thing that made me furious all over again: Every Justice in favor of the ruling was male. That's right, the three female Justices, including Sotomayor, who is fairly conservative, were against this decision. Doesn't that tell you everything you need to know?