July 29, 2014 — The Supreme Court's ruling in Hobby Lobby has "upended" the longstanding "concept of 'religious freedom'" in the U.S. and opened the door to "an alarming haggling over rights that previously had been set," writes blogger Amanda Marcotte in an opinion piece for USA Today.
Marcotte explains that religious freedom in the U.S. has for "many decades" meant that people "were allowed to worship how they saw fit but strongly restricted when it came to imposing [their] views on other people, lest they trample on someone else's religious freedom." However, the Supreme Court's ruling "changed things, expanding Hobby Lobby's religious freedom so widely that the religious freedom of their employees to use their own benefits how they see fit is ... subject to restrictions based on [their] employer's beliefs," Marcotte writes.
Marcotte writes that this new model of religious freedom has spurred "a growing crop of fundamentalists [who] are demanding that the religious freedom of patients to make their own decisions about health care should be curtailed, allowing providers to push their own agenda on them."
For example, Marcotte cites the case of a nurse-midwife who is suing a clinic in Florida for allegedly refusing to hire her "because of her religious objections to contraception." Marcotte explains that the allegations are "simply untrue" and that the clinic did not hire the nurse because "she broadcast her eagerness to use this position to foist her own religious views on unsuspecting patients, and to deprive them of their religious freedom to make their own choices by refusing to prescribe contraception for them."
Similarly, Marcotte writes that the National Women's Law Center in 2012 identified "a semi-coordinated campaign across the country of Christian pharmacists exploiting the power they have to deny women access to contraception." Marcotte adds, "The problem has grown so serious that Walgreens put out an official statement in 2013 making it clear that pharmacists who refuse to sell contraception are violating company policy."
"In Hobby Lobby v Burwell, Justice Alito specifically said that just because Hobby Lobby would be allowed to foist its anti-contraception agenda onto employees doesn't mean future employers would be able to foist, say, an anti-vaccine agenda," Marcotte writes. However, she writes that when "some people's religious 'freedom' requires restricting the religious freedom of others, it's hard to avoid concluding that conservative Christians are the ones who will demand the right to foist their beliefs and the rest of us are going to see our very basic right to be left alone to make our own choices trickle away" (Marcotte, USA Today, 7/25).