Will the Rights of Fictional “Persons” Trump Actual People?
That’s a question the Supreme Court will be answering later this month.
Through the magic of legal fiction corporations have gained personhood. And now the “person” that is Hobby Lobby Inc. argues (without evidence) that some forms of birth control may cause abortion, making the Affordable Care Act’s free contraceptive directive a threat to (his? her?) religious tenants.
That this judicial question is under consideration is remarkable. Arguments before the court had centered on whether corporations can hold religious views. But what if a woman’s beliefs — or lack thereof — allow for contraception? Why must she follow the dictates of her employer instead her own conscience?
Where there’s a conflict between the rights of fictional bodies and actual bodies, surely the latter should win out.
A woman may be severely harmed when birth control is not financially accessible. She may suffer emotionally, physically or financially from pregnancy and the costs of raising a child. Not to mention, merely earning a living will become more difficult with children in tow. Some will seek abortions. Or, desperate women will die or suffer serious health consequences after going to back alley abortionists — or while trying to perform the procedure on themselves.
Meanwhile, even as Hobby Lobby worries that some types of contraception may cause abortion (don’t forget, without evidence), we know that free birth control leads to big drops in abortion and teen birth rates. A study conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found the annual abortion rate of study participants dropping in the range of 62-78 percent between 2008 and 2010. And while the birth rate of US girls ages 15-19 was 34.3 per 1,000 , the birth rate of study participants dropped to 6.3 per 1,000.
But how did we end up in a place where fictional “people” just might end up with more rights than actual people?
Maybe because most of us tend to see the world through the eyes of the powerful. And that’s because powerful groups are better able to get their ideas across by funding think tanks and lobbyists, and by paying high-priced attorneys. The more powerful among us can also more easily gain media attention and get their voices heard over the religious and political pulpits. Some may even have friends on the Supreme Court.
And then their perspective becomes conventional wisdom — which may not be so wise, after all.
Posted on June 18, 2014, in feminism, politics/class inequality, psychology, reproductive rights, sexism, women and tagged corporate personhood, feminism, politics/class inequality, psychology, reproductive rights, sexism, Supreme Court, women. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.