WHITNEY: The right to choose shouldn’t impose on others

Righteous indignation is hard to maintain.

After the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that the government can’t require certain employers to provide insurance coverage for methods of birth control and emergency contraception that conflict with their religious beliefs, I’m left in appreciation of the fact that I’m not artsy-crafty. I won’t have to avoid Hobby Lobby on moral grounds now because I didn’t shop there anyway.

See, this week, the Supreme Court ruled in a case raised by Hobby Lobby’s owners, the Green family, who felt the Affordable Care Act threatened their religious freedom by not allowing them to exclude coverage for certain medication in their employment-linked health care plans. Their objections focused on medications like like the “morning after pill,” an emergency contraceptive the Green believe to be a form of abortion. 

The Greens won, and in turn, we all lost. And I lost my mind a little bit, spent a few days being really righteously indignant about it all. 

But luckily my feelings were shared by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who wrote a spot-on dissent in which she said, “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?”

This is what should really drive the point home. If your employer offers a health care package — and ostensibly reaps the benefits of doing so under ACA —your health care decisions could be subject to their interpretation of what’s right and wrong. As a parent, whose child is covered by the same plan, your child’s health care could then be impacted as well. 

Think about that: Your employer already controls an inordinate amount of your life by setting your salary and vacation allotments. Now they potentially have the ability to control how your family handles medical situations, simply by enacting their rights to the religious guidelines they really, really believe in, even if they aren’t the same you observe.  

What’s most unfortunate about the case is that the Greens chose to wage this battle as a narrowly focused crusade against on abortion, a matter that has more power to trigger emotional sympathies than any other “hot topic.” If the medical procedure in question was treatment for depression — something that has equal power to end a life — this would have been a more cut and dry battle. If the Greens had been Muslim, someone would have cried “Sharia law!”

Ginsburg also wrote, “Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.”

Freedom of religion certainly means that we’re all free to practice the religion we so choose. But it also means we should be free from the imposition of others’ religions on our own lives. 

But what’s done is done, I guess, and now we’re left with new reasons to worry about how our jobs could potentially affect our families. 

And I suppose I’ll head to JoAnn’s if I ever decide to learn how to knit.