Letters & Op-Eds 2014

After Hobby Lobby, What Next for Employees?

To the Editor:

E.J. Dionne is right that the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case created “an entirely new legal regime” [“Supreme Court reveals its class bias,” op-ed, July 3]. But the fault lies in the one area that Mr. Dionne lauded: the Obama administration’s history of bending over backward to appease religious extremists.

The majority in the court, like the Obama administration, decided that the religious beliefs of employers were more important than those of their employees. The majority in the court, like the Obama administration, decided that it would be acceptable to negotiate away the health needs of some employees to appease religious extremists who oppose contraception. Even worse, the Hobby Lobby case focused on emergency contraception, but the justices expanded it to include all contraception and, as Mr. Dionne noted, gave no legal reason that it could not be expanded to any religious objection to any benefit in the future.

The same week, religious extremists wrote to President Obama demanding the right to discriminate against gay men and lesbians, because, well, they didn’t give any reason.

Negotiating with religious extremists is akin to attempting to appease the unappeasable. It just doesn’t work. Ask the nuns in the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in their faceoff against the Vatican. Ask those seeking justice for those sexually abused by priests. Ask gay employees fired by Catholic dioceses.

We as a nation need to decide whether we want provide adequate health care to all or be willing to sacrifice the health-care needs of many to appease a few religious extremists. It seems that the judicial and executive branches have settled on the latter.

JON O’BRIEN
President, Catholics for Choice
Washington, July 6, 2014

This letter was originally published by the Washington Post.