Al Jazeera America: Hobby Lobby vs. Female Patients and Their Doctors

Al Jazeera America: Hobby Lobby vs. Female Patients and Their Doctors

The Supreme Court stressed the rights of for-profit business owners, but these shouldn’t trump women’€™s health

By Susan Berke Fogel

On Monday the Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, in a 5-4 decision, that closely held for-profit businesses may opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to provide health insurance that covers all contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The majority opinion, which none of the court’s female justices joined, claimed that the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects the rights of such businesses’ owners to withhold coverage for birth control if they claim it violates their religious beliefs.

Meanwhile, women—particularly lower-income women—are left to struggle to pay for basic birth control that should, by all rights, be included in their employer-sponsored health insurance. It was left to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s scathing dissent to articulate the inequities women have faced in the health sphere and the very real health and economic challenges ignored by most of her male counterparts. Let’s set aside that birth control should not be—and, except for a very vocal minority, is not—controversial in 2014; the court’s decision weakens the sanctity of medical practice. The gold standard of health care is medicine backed by science and rooted in patient need. This is what every patient wants, deserves and expects.

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