Hobby Lobby is a chain of 640 arts and crafts stores owned by the Green family, based in Oklahoma City. This company is required to follow the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which mandates that larger employers—those with more than 50 employees—have to include coverage for the full range of preventative care, including contraceptives, in their female employees’ health insurance plans. However, the Green family holds deeply religious views and did not want to include four of the twenty contraceptives covered by the ACA, including long acting reversible contraception and emergency contraception, in their female employee coverage. The family believed that providing those contraceptives would go against their Christian values by making them complicit with abortion. Therefore, the Green Family challenged the contraceptive mandate in the landmark Supreme Court case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. by citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993. This act prohibits the federal government from enacting laws that substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion. A corporation like Hobby Lobby can be considered a person as well, due to a series of Supreme Court rulings from the past 200 years that have granted corporate personhood and rights. In consideration of the RFRA, the Supreme Court, in a highly controversial five to four decision, sided with Hobby Lobby, and declared that the contraceptive mandate was an unnecessary and substantial burden on Hobby Lobby’s exercise of religious freedom. All three female Supreme Court justices voted against the ruling, but were unable to change the outcome. The majority claimed that the ruling only applied to “closely-held” for-profit corporations run on religious principles; however, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the dissent, attacked the majority opinion as a careless decision that could apply to all corporations and numerous laws (Charo 1538). The immediate effect of this decision is on female employees in the workforce who are left to wonder why male contraception is covered while theirs is not. In addition, by dropping coverage of more expensive methods of contraception, Hobby Lobby is driving its female employees towards less expensive and less efficient methods, leading to more unintended pregnancies and abortions. This portrays the idea of a corporate world that is not interested in the well-being of its female employees. By the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, and by not providing certain types of long-acting reversible contraceptive coverage for women, corporations such as Hobby Lobby are essentially creating a hostile work environment for female employees.
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