Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River

By Katie East

It’s been two weeks since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and their fight against paying for birth control. I’m still seeing Facebook statuses joking about how the women who work at craft stores probably don’t need it anyway. I’m a sucker for a Ruth Bader Ginsburg meme just as much as the rest of you. Unfortunately, this ruling reminds me less of a comedy and more of a horror movie. The implications of the Supreme Court’s decision will last much longer than RBG’s Internet fame.

As a woman who has been on birth control for medical reasons since I was 15, I am very pro-contraceptive coverage. However, most people arguing over the Supreme Court ruling forget that most birth control is still covered by Hobby Lobby, including daily oral contraceptives that I take.

As liberal as I am, I can understand both sides of this argument. If you work at a private company like Hobby Lobby that doesn’t hide its religious principals, you might have an expectation that they will uphold their beliefs. The problem is that this ruling sets a precedent for all companies to screw over their employees and use God as the excuse.

Now, Eden Foods, an organic food company based out of Michigan is trying to stop paying for all birth control for their employees. A nation-wide craft store that shuts its doors every Sunday is not the same as a company that makes preservative free soymilk and happens to be owned by an opinionated Catholic.

This is that slippery slope everyone has been talking about.

Technically, Eden Foods’ case came first. In their case though, the courts ruled against the fight for their religious freedom. In October, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against Eden Foods when it said that “a secular, for-profit corporation, cannot establish that it can exercise religion.”

After the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby, Eden Food is set to win their fight against paying for contraceptives though originally being ruled against by both the District and Appellate courts.

After the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment against Eden Foods and sent a lawsuit back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for further consideration. In light of this ruling, Eden Foods is on the road to winning their suit.

Eden Foods founder and CEO Michael Potter is fighting for his company’s right not to pay for employee’s “lifestyle drugs.” This includes contraceptives, Viagra, smoking cessation, weight-loss, infertility, and impotency drugs.

First of all, what on earth is a “lifestyle drug”? Why do we do throw the word lifestyle on things we don’t like or understand? So, we’re somehow equating homosexual couples, prostitutes and people on Chantix? I don’t get it, Michael Potter.

Apparently, he doesn’t really get it either. Eden Foods’ own website says the company “began in Ann Arbor in the late 1960s with friends sourcing natural food. Youth motivated by a study of a worldwide phenomenon centered upon macrobiotics.”

Nowhere on the Eden Foods’ website is there talk of God or the company’s religious fundamentals. So non-religious, probably liberal, employees who have been working at Eden Foods for decades might now have to be at the whim of their CEO’s personal beliefs.

On Hobby Lobby’s website their first commitment listed under the company information is: “Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles.”

Anyone signing up to work at Hobby Lobby knows the company’s religious stance. In fact, I’m sure the company makes you actually sign something saying you love Jesus and glitter before they hire you. I can’t say the same for those poor hippies over at Eden Foods.

Michael Potter almost admitted his lawsuit wasn’t religiously motivated in an interview with Salon.com last year. When asked which of his belief lead him to oppose the regulation, he said:

“Not so much that as our denial of our rights to exercise our conscience and the government overreach into that. They’re infringing the religious freedoms that are supposedly in the Constitution. I think those are more important than any particular religious dogma… [It] isn’t any one particular religious belief.”

Hobby Lobby might have had a legitimate argument but now everyone that owns a company can claim their religious rights are being infringed upon while subsequently violating their own employee’s rights to healthcare.

This is the problem with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

I think RBG said it best in her descent: “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”


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