Supreme Court May Ok Forcing Your Religion on Others

Women's religious freedom

Women’s religious freedom

Should some people be allowed to force their religion on less powerful people?

That might happen if the Supreme Court rules against the government in the Zubik v. Burwell contraception case. 

Employer health plans must provide free contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Religions that forbid birth control are exempt. But now some seek to expand the exemption, insisting that the consciences of religiously-affiliated organizations are unduly stressed by a back door offered to them: they must notify their insurer or the government of refusal to comply, and the government will provide the contraception.

Really? Such notification overly burdens an organization’s conscience?

What about the religious rights of women employees? Perhaps contraception is not against their religion. Why must they be forced to adhere to the dictates of their employer’s conscience?

Should an organization’s rights trump the religious rights of individuals?

Where there is a conflict between the religious rights of an organization and an employee, the person whose body and well-being is most at stake should win out.

And besides, shouldn’t we sacrifice for our own faith instead of asking others to sacrifice for our religion?

Look beneath the covers and this is really a question of allowing some people to force their religion on others. And in a way that disempowers by giving women less control over their bodies, health, lives, livelihood and independence.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on March 25, 2016, in feminism, reproductive rights, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Angelina Tuakalau

    As a person of strong Christian faith and someone who studies the bible quite frequently I find it interesting that a lot of the people who claim to be Christian promote laws like these that force other people to conform to their own beliefs, when the leader they follow, Jesus Christ, was persecuted and crucified by people with the same type of thinking.

    I think what a lot of these people are lacking is compassion, or the ability to put themselves in the other persons shoes, which is what I think was kind of the main point of Christ’s leadership and what made Him a great leader and person. He constantly showed that He not once condoned behavior that was believed to be sinful, but also never condemned those who acted in such ways either. He looked past their “sin” and gave comfort and guidance on how to improve and work past their wrongs without forcing it on these people. Which is another important way that Christ led, by invitation and never force.

    I don’t mean to go off on a religious tangent I just find it ironic that those people who claim to follow Christ, act exactly like the Pharisee’s who crucified him.

    The main point of my comment is that those people who are pressing laws like these, that force their beliefs on people, in the name of Christianity, should really take a step back and actually study the man they claim to follow and then ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?”

    (sn: I have all the scriptural references for this, so if you want them I can give them to you.)

  2. This post tackled the core problem with Zubik v. Burwell: “What about the religious rights of women employees? Perhaps contraception is not against their religion. Why must they be forced to adhere to the dictates of their employer’s conscience?” It becomes more evident that religious expression is the secondary, if not a mere back thought in this issue. Religious expression — the “conscience” — functions on the basis of interpretation which is subject to the individual. Simply undermining the religious rights of people that find themselves in a vulnerable position (employees), is unethical. Various religions on this planet are subject to interpretation, thus an universal understanding of them is impossible to achieve. Based on this, I find it rather questionable that an organization has to enforce its will on its employees — the organization (employer) is already in great control of its employees, why does this control have to infiltrate such an intimate realm? This is less about religion, but rather power. These various organizations exemplify a longing for power, and thus control over the people, by using religion as a justification. As this post pointed out, this will disempower women greatly! Forcing one’s religion on others has no rational grounds and should be forbidden, especially in the year of 2016.

  3. A most interesting discussion…

    I studied a similar case in University… or at least I thought of it…
    I am making reference to a so called leading case.
    “Portal de Belén– Asociación Civil sin Fines de Lucro v. the Ministry of Health and Social
    Welfare”. 2002. National Supreme Court of Justice.

    In this case, the non–profit organization called “Portal de Belén” filed an amparo action against the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, with the purpose of reversing the authorization to distribute the drug called “Inmediat”, produced by Laboratorios Gador S.A., and of forbidding its production, distribution and marketing, on account of the abortion–inducing effect caused by said “emergency contraception” pill. The claim was based on the fact that the right to life is constitutionally acknowledged.

    The claim was successful in the first instance, though the State appealed before the Federal Chamber of Appeals of Córdoba, which reversed the ruling.
    By means of an extraordinary remedy, the case was filed before the Argentine Supreme Court of Justice, which instructed—by a majority of five to four votes— that the National State annul the authorization in question, forbidding the production, distribution and marketing of the drug called “Inmediat”.

    The ruling was based on three core arguments: a) human life begins with the ovum’s fertilization; b) one of the pill’s effects is abortion; c) the right to life is the first natural right, prior to every positive law and guaranteed by the National Constitution

    Click to access argentina-la.pdf

    Worth noting that the new paragraph 23 of article 75 of the 1994 reformed argentine Constitution implicitly acknowledges that the right to life starts at the moment of conception of the human being in the womb, by establishing that one of the powers of the Congress is to dictate of a special and comprehensive social security regime for “protecting the defenseless child from pregnancy”.
    In other words, the state’s duty to protect the unborn child’s life is thus explicitly established.

    Sorry for such a long comment…
    I wonder if this makes sense to you… I guess that at the end organization’s rights and States´s statamenet concerning birth control trump the religious rights of individuals in both cases, the one you mentioned and this leading case in my country.

    Thanks so much for sharing, dear Georgia… I always enjoy your posts. Aquileana 😇

    • In the US we have a separation between church and state. And since there is no scientific agreement on when I fertilized egg becomes A human being, we wouldn’t use that argument in the courts.

      And when people are asked, “If a fire broke out and you had to choose between saving hundreds fertilized eggs “People” or one two-year-old, what would you do? I haven’t heard anyone say they would save all of the fertilized eggs — more people instead of just one person. Showing that fertilized eggs are not equivalent to an actual person.

      • Your two digressions are absolutely valid. I was thinking that this case or Fallo as we call it here probably is outdated, as of course day after pills are freely sold -non prescription needed… but it was not the case in 2002.

        Concerning the beginning of Human Life, the Argentine New Civil and Commercial , in force since August 2015. establishes in its article 19.

        –`The individual begins to exist from the moment of the conception´.

        The new norm therefore does not difference between conception `inside or outside´ the womb

        The original project included the following reference, which was not included at the end

        –`In the case of assisted human reproduction, it begins with the implantation of the embryo in the woman without Notwithstanding the special law providing for the protection of non-implanted embryo´

        Some people said that this was indeed a “Clerical Code” in reference to alleged pressure from the Church in order to delete the second paragraph.


        As to USA, it seems the position is the same one.

        At least to the ºGenetic Viewº, which `Takes the position that the creation of a genetically unique individual is the moment at which life begins. This event is often described as taking place at fertilization, thus fertilization marks the beginning of human life´…

        However: `The most popular argument against the idea that life begins at the moment of fertilization has been dubbed the “twinning argument.” The main point of this argument is that although a zygote is genetically unique from its parents from the moment a diploid organism is formed; it is possible for that zygote to split into two or more zygotes up until 14 or 15 days after fertilization´.

        That last point would lead to the ºEmbryological Viewº which states that
        `human life originates not at fertilization but rather at gastrulation. Human embryos are capable of splitting into identical twins as late as 12 DAYS AFTER fertilization resulting in the development of separate individuals with unique personalities and different souls, according to the religious view. Therefore, properties governing individuality are not set until after gastrulation´….

        ºThe Neurological viewº states that the beginning of human life should be recognized as the time when a fetus acquires a recognizable electroencephalogram (EEG) pattern. This acquisition occurs approximately 24- 27 WEEKS AFTER the conception of the

        Finally, according to the ºEcological viewº life begings after 25 weeks of gestation,

        Source: Pages 2 to 6.

        You were right as to the differences among the Scientific Community…
        It is interesting and worth highlighting that certain positions would legitimize abortion, as opposed to other….
        By the way … which one of the views mentioned above do you believe is the most accurate? (i.e Genetic,Embryological, Neurological or Ecological) …

        Sending best wishes. Aquileana ⭐

      • I haven’t spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly when life begins because I think it’s rather arbitrary. And the people who are trying to stop women from getting abortions in America are also often trying to keep them from having birth-control. And that is the best Way to prevent abortion. Which leaves me believing that they aren’t pro life so much as pro-controlling women.

        Additionally, they don’t care about life once the child is born. The same people who say they are pro-life want to cut any government help to survive via food or medical care.

        Plus, making laws against abortion doesn’t stop it. It causes abortion to go underground. And then more women and girls die.

        Put it altogether and I don’t believe in abortion laws. I believe that women should have sex education and contraception and be supported if they choose to follow through with the pregnancy.

      • Yes… I agree with your conclusion… thanks so much for the interesting discussion and for taking time to reply in depth, dear Georgia… best regards. Aquileana ⭐️

      • And thank you for your thoughts!

  4. The moves towards restricting access to these services in the US are really scary. I hope it doesn’t come to this.

    • Me too!

      It’s part of a strategy to enforce Christian beliefs on the entire population, which would move us closer to theocracy instead of democracy. And we are already having enough problems moving into oligarchy instead of democracy!

  5. Monotheistic religions are hopium of the masses (adding an ‘H’ to the Marxian description). The sooner people realise this, the better, as otherwise there is no end to the gullible being taken for a ride.

  6. Well said. This effort to preserve “religious freedoms” is just code for barefoot, pregnant and chained to the stove.

  7. Those are pretty valid questions and sometimes it’s essential to dig deep to comprehend and analyse in sensitive issues like this.

    • Sure is. We get so used to seeing through the eyes of the powerful that a lot of people are missing the fact that ruling against the government on this issue will make it OK for powerful people to force their religion on less powerful people when it comes to religious beliefs about contraception.

  8. happyfreeconfusedlonelyatthesametime

    Your country is really scary sometimes

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