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Religious freedom and Obamacare

by AMBER KELLY Photographer

The United States Supreme Court recently heard a case concerning the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Hobby Lobby, a popular arts and crafts and holiday store, filed a lawsuit in late 2012 targeting the contraception portion of the ACA.

Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and a leading force of the ACA, is named the defendant in the case Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby. The main question in this case is whether Hobby Lobby, being a for-profit, private corporation, has religious freedom, and if this religious freedom grants them exemption from a part of the ACA.

Hobby Lobby is owned by the Green family, an Evangelical Christian family who is the biggest benefactor of the National Christian Charitable Foundation. David and Barbara Green have voiced their objections to providing what is frequently referred to as the abortion bill to their employees. Such pills include things like Plan B and Ella.

The Green family is okay with 16 out of the 20 contraceptives listed in the ACA, meaning they do not object to the birth control. It is really the “morning after pill” and the “week after pill” with which they have objections.

“Hobby Lobby is a privately owned company and if they disagree with something in the ACA because of religious reasons, then they should not have to do it. And it’s not like they’re objecting to all birth control or anything, it’s just the abortion pill. It’s their company, so if they do not agree with providing something like the morning after pill to their employees, then that’s their choice,” says senior Vincent Grassi.

The Supreme Court arranged to hold oral arguments on March 25, 2014 where Hobby Lobby’s lawyer, Paul D. Clement, and the administration’s lawyer, Donald Verrilli Jr., argued about the case in front of the justices.

Many protests have surrounded the case ever since it came to the public’s attention. Some people believe it is a women’s rights issue, prompting several women’s groups to become involved.

Others argue that the employers of Hobby Lobby cannot push their religious beliefs onto their employees, while others disagree, claiming that Hobby Lobby has every right to withhold certain contraceptives.

“I don’t think the Green family is trying to force their beliefs onto the employees of Hobby Lobby. It’s not like they’re saying that if they work there they can never take the morning after pill or anything, they’re just saying that they don’t agree with providing it. If the employees want the pills, they can always just go buy them. It’s not as if Hobby Lobby is forbidding such action,” says senior Ryan Sosnak.

The Supreme Court consolidated a similar case with this one, the Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius case, in which the owners are also experiencing a religious issue with the ACA.

Nobody expects the Supreme Court to make a decision any time soon, as the decision in this case can have many implications for the future of corporations and also the ACA.

How do you think the Supreme Court is going to rule in this case?

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