Court ruling concerns big corporations vs. healthy lives

-A A +A

Guest Columnist

A recent editorial by the News highlighted the June 30 Supreme Court ruling in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby and its co-litigant, Conestoga Wood. I thank the News for bringing this national item to our local attention and for providing a forum for debate. I have some points of discussion on this topic.

First, the News’ view is that the court ruled in favor of big business over the common man. The court ruled in a similar fashion in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. In both cases, the majority of justices feel that corporations can be viewed as individual people. This appears to be a slippery slope taking us back to the Gilded Age where monopolists controlled the federal government. Yet, the court ruled in Hobby Lobby that only small, family-owned corporations are exempt from the contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act. Therefore, the court did make an attempt to differentiate between large and small corporations. Although I do agree with the News that favoring corporations is a cause for concern, the greater issue is the health of women and children.

Second, many say this ruling will affect women’s health. Women will no longer have employer access to contraceptives, thus their health will suffer. However, the research that I have read on contraceptives and sterilizations does not appear to support healthy choices for women. Let’s consider the pill. Clinical research done in 2006 by lead author Dr. Chris Kahlenborn of the Mayo Clinic showed that women who took oral contraceptives, such as the pill, have a 44 percent increased risk of premenopausal breast cancer. In 2005, the World Health Organization classified oral contraceptives as a Class I carcinogen, which is the most dangerous ranking. Also in 2009, the National Cancer Institute found that oral contraceptives increase the risk of triple-negative breast cancer – a very aggressive cancer – by 320 percent. The pill can also increase the risk of heart failure and a myriad of other side effects. Other forms of contraceptives like the intrauterine device can cause problems such as uterine perforation, pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility, to name a few. Another option for women is sterilization. Women who have tubal ligation – their tubes tied – can have complications that include bladder puncture, bleeding and cardiac arrest.

After reading this research, I cannot see how the contraceptive-sterilization mandate is a form of good health for women. A healthier form of birth control that has a 99 percent effective rate is a natural process known as natural family planning. I encourage you to read more into this, but basically a woman pays attention to certain naturally occurring signs in her body to determine when she is most fertile. This empowers a woman by giving her self-control over her fertility. However, the government does not promote this natural method of birth control. Therefore what is the purpose of the federal mandate from a health standpoint?

Well the answer to that question is the reason for using contraceptives and sterilizations: stopping a pregnancy. The methods listed above do achieve their goal in stopping a pregnancy most of the time, but they are not 100 percent effective. Pregnancies do occur and in some of those circumstances the fertilized egg is carried to full term or is destroyed along the way. This is why religious groups and people of faith, i.e. Hobby Lobby’s family owners, fought against this mandate in court.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of corporations, albeit small, family-owned businesses. However, another way to look at the ruling is that the court decided to protect the life and health of baby and mother. The court has not always ruled in this way. Is this a new direction toward pro-life decisions or is it to favor big corporations? I will lean toward the optimistic view and disagree with the News.

Guillaume lives in Leopold.