Mark my words.
Both of the rulings today were against women. Women are the primary home health aides, and by making withholding membership dues from the checks of employees in unionized shops optional, the court, in effect, made the women who do those jobs wage slaves. They had one shot at a better life and better working conditions, and that was the solidarity that a unionized shop provided. That will soon start to fray under the bullying of managers – who are the real enemy of the working class, because they have been made, systematically, over the last thirty years, to believe that the only way they get to keep what they have is if they keep those they manage from taking it, when in reality those they manage aren’t after what they have; they’re after a share of the pie the folks cashing the checks from Medicare and Medicaid are feasting on, not the manager’s tiny sliver that, in comparison, is really little better than the crumbs the workers they terrorize subsist on. And as long as the money-men have the managers convinced that their livelihood depends on winning the age-old game of “you-and-him-fight” they won’t look at the gluttons feasting while the managers eat at the soup-and-salad joint and the workers pack a baloney sandwich for lunch.
Then there was the stinging offense of the Burwell v Hobby Lobby case. Basically, the Supreme Court decided this morning that any privately-held corporation I might work for is a person; but I’m not.
I’m past the age of contraception mattering in my life personally, but I have two daughters – only one of whom is fortunate enough to have been born a lesbian – and I have a granddaughter who is ten. The decision handed down today will affect her mother for the rest of her childbearing years, and it will affect her for all of hers.
But I can see a scenario in which I am affected, on a life-altering level, by today’s ruling as well.
Let’s look three or four years down the road. I have finished my graduate work, joined a practice and all is going well, then the practice sells. Let’s say the new boss is an ultra-conservative Jew, and he files a challenge to the mandate that he provide health insurance that covers prescriptions that come in a gelatin capsule or coating. I take Celebrex, Gabapentin, and Lyrica in gelcaps. My prescription coverage right now is through the state of Missouri, not through the healthcare coverage I have because Tom was in the military. He does not have a full retirement, so we do not have full benefits. Prescription coverage was one of the things that we decided we could do without, because we had prescription coverage through my job.
What if, in that scenario, one of us needs a new heart valve? The best outcomes involve transplanting a valve from a pig. My theoretical future employer could challenge providing secondary coverage at the non-public heart institute that bookends the brain and stroke institute at St. Luke’s, where I got such a remarkable outcome. If it comes down to making that decision for either one of us, fuck it, let them try to repo a heart valve, we’re going to Luke’s and making a good-faith payment on the balance for the rest of our lives.**
Now, in reality, am I likely to face this issue?
No. I’m a college graduate, a holder of more than one Bachelor’s Degree, I’m about to have a Master’s, and I’m on my way to a PhD. The odds are really low that I will ever have to face ignorance and right-wing authoritarianism dressed up as religious liberty in my field. I am a scientist, after all, so we work and live in a world that is ruled by evidence and reason rather than ideology and dogma. You don’t hire someone like me off Craig’s list or from the classifieds, and you sure as hell don’t get pissy over what the health insurance package I get will and won’t cover. It will be a Cadillac package, and it will cover everything without question.
My daughter has resources to access contraception, and if she didn’t, I would help her, if not financially then with my medical connections, and the same goes for my granddaughter. But this isn’t about us – not yet, anyway. It’s about women who have no choice but to work the shit-jobs at Hobby Lobby and other low-wage soul-sucking hell-holes that feel entitled to control every aspect of their low-wage workers’ lives. They have to piss in a cup to get the shit-job to begin with, then they have to submit to the will of their boss what healthcare services they can access? Fuck that. I will never buy another stencil as long as I live, and I hope that picket lines spring up outside their stores like they were abortion clinics.
Then you have the flip side of the coin. St. Luke’s, the hospital where I was a patient in the Brain and Stroke Institute and where I have also been an employee in a supervisory capacity — is owned and operated by the Seventh Day Adventists, who are personally vegetarians, but the dietary services of the Plaza campus serves the most delicious Yankee Pot Roast and Chicken Marsalla I’ve ever had that I didn’t either pay $15.99 for or eat at my Nana’s house. They even do a good meatloaf. When I was a patient for three weeks, Tom gained ten pounds.
My point is, the hospital that fixed my fucking brain has a hell of a lot more ground to stand on to make the claim Hobby Lobby made – but they have the decency not to make it.