Sunday, January 25, 2015

The government and a Woman's Womb

This past Thursday, January 22, 2015, the house passed an anti-abortion bill. The bill was passed on the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision which protected a woman’s right to decide to have an abortion. “The bill would prevent women from having their abortions covered by Medicaid; restrict a woman's ability to buy private insurance plans that include abortion coverage; and deny small businesses a tax credit, which they currently receive through the Affordable Care Act, if they include abortion care in their health insurance plans.” Learning of this recent bill reminded me of the heavily debated topic of what role the government plays in a woman’s life regarding her birth control and right to have an abortion. Not surprisingly the religious influences and support was very evident in this anti-abortion bill. 

Since June 28, 2012 when the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act there has been an uprising in conversations surrounding this issue. For instance, just last year in 2014 the Supreme Court held a decision in favor of the privately owned company, Hobby Lobby. The decision exempted them from being required to provide certain forms of contraception to their female employees due to the owners religious beliefs that Plan B, Ella, Copper IUD and Mirena all terminate pregnancies rather than prevent them making them forms of abortion. As Christian’s, the requirement by the Department of Health and Human Services was violating the Green family’s (the owners) religious rights protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The Supreme Court did in fact rule with Hobby Lobby protecting their religious freedom and right to deny these services to their employees. 

Is Hobby Lobby acting within their constitutional rights by denying coverage of these forms of contraception? Whether or not one agrees with Hobby Lobby’s beliefs should not influence the answer to this question. As someone who believes that the government should not play a role in an individual’s personal life, I find the problem not to lie within the violation of religious rights but the very fact that they are imposing requirements on a privately owned company in the first place. For those who disagree with the Supreme Court’s ruling there are other forms of voicing one’s discomfort than making it a constitutional matter and assuming the government has a place in the issue. One example would be boycotting the store. If you have a personal issue with Hobby Lobby not providing these forms of contraception, than do not shop at their store. The problem is that people rely too heavily of the United States Court systems to handle cultural and social  issues. However, as the court rightly decided, the requirements by the Department of Health and Human Services were unconstitutional and violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Hobby Lobby, as a privately owned company, has every right to refuse any form of contraception to their employees as they so choose. 

With this new bill being passed by the House republicans, a new question arises. Due to the strong religious influences on the nature of the bill protecting ‘life’ make the bill unconstitutional because it is violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment protecting the people from religion. Without the influence of religious morals, the question of pro life versus pro choice becomes more difficult to answer. It is my opinion that the bill is in fact unconstitutional and violating the First Amendment because of its religious implications. The government should not be able to make laws prohibiting a woman’s right to choose. In fact it should protect the right of freedom of choice. Just as the Supreme Court protected Hobby Lobby’s right to choose not to provide forms of contraception that were deemed to be “abortifacient”, they should also protect the rights of individuals to choose to use abortifacients or get abortions.


Molly H. said...

The issue of pro-life versus pro-choice is a topic that I try to avoid, as it seems to be a debate that will never have a satisfying end. Personally, I am a firm supporter of pro-choice, as I believe that there are numerous circumstances that should allow a woman to have the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy. I do not support the anti-abortion bill, and I think the author made an extremely valid point in saying that "the government should not play a role in an individual's personal life" and that" it is a clear violation of the First Amendment".
The root of this issue goes back to the emphasis on separating religion and state. Abortion is clearly an issue of religious background, and as we discussed in class, the American government is non-denominational as in there is no one majority of government, therefore our political decisions should not involve religious beliefs. Abortion, birth control, and health care for women is a right that should be given to all. The government does not know the female's circumstances, health background, or moral beliefs. They should not be the ones making such a drastic decision that solely affects the woman bearing child.

robert bryson said...

Molly, you draw on a very important issue. The government DOES NOT know the circumstances. Part of the crux of the pro-choice debate is bringing up the question of rape. But if there is an anti-abortion law which permits certain circumstances, how can we get around the fact that 68% of rapes are not reported to the police?

Brandon Farrell said...

While the author makes a good point by stating that Hobby Lobby is a privately held corporation. The fact remains that it is just that, a corporation. The constitution protects an individuals right to freedom of religion. Not for-profit corporations. Corporations that are for-profit must have separation of church and state. The pursuit of reproductive justice and access to necessary healthcare is something that must be protected in the United States. By approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodations shows favoritism of one religion over another.

Nate McGuinness said...

I agree with Brandon, by accepting the specific exemptions granted to Hobby Lobby for religious purposes, it could be very easily argued that the government is expressing some form of favoritism toward a particular faith, by allowing for certain religious justifications to be used in defense of restricting birth control it could be said that the court is inherently going against the language of the first amendment and the remedy for the potentially perceived bias would be to begin granting other religious exceptions which would in turn just serve to diminish a person's individual right to choose what to do with her own body, a legal avenue that would lead to religious exemptions trumping individual rights. Now the opposing argument that a private company should not be compelled by the government to go against their religious beliefs and that employee's should perhaps get hired somewhere else is they have a problem with the company's policies could be countered by saying that this burden is not on the individual but rather the company, if an amish company wants to hire underage workers because their religious beliefs allow for it the court would respond with a resounding too bad thats illegal, if you want to enter into the private market there are rules for everyone that must be obeyed, these laws then are inherently much less biased and targeted than laws that would allow for religious exceptions to be made, in the private sector or otherwise.