Students respond to Hobby Lobby case: ‘Conservative employers will do damage to their female employees’ health’

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores that companies cannot be required to provide contraceptive coverage they find in conflict with their religious beliefs.

The White House stated that colleges that offer universal student health plans must offer birth control as part of healthcare coverage. As Campus Reform previously reported, however, there have been multiple cases in which judges have ruled that the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act does not apply to certain religious universities like Colorado Christian University, or Cornerstone and Dordt colleges.

With the ruling coming from the Supreme Court yesterday, this issue could further affect access to specific contraceptives for college students.

For Jennifer Lee, a student at Scripps College, the ruling yesterday was unfortunate.

“It is disappointing to see the justices rule against protecting women’s rights. I think there is a correlation between limiting contraception coverage and the amounts of abortion that go up because people don't have coverage or suffer access,” said Lee. “I think specifically towards universities, it is extremely harmful to them.”

Margaret Northrup, from Cornell University, agreed that the ruling could affect students, arguing that “birth control is something that a lot of people are concerned about, especially if you’re coming out of college.”

“Most women in America use birth control, and the people who work for Hobby Lobby aren’t necessarily in line with their political views, and don’t necessarily have a choice for who their employer is,” Northrup said.

Even though 44 percent of recent college graduates are unable to obtain a job, Olivia Firmand, a student at the University of Missouri, stated that she would “absolutely” turn down a job if the company did not provide all methods of contraception.

“It’s important to me, and it’s important to my morals...Your boss should have nothing to do with your personal beliefs, reproductive rights should have nothing to do with your employer,” Firmand told Campus Reform.

Adam Limehouse, a rising student at John Hopkins University, says the entire focus of the Hobby Lobby case was distorted because “ this isn’t about so-called ‘religious beliefs,’ this is really about contraception and women’s rights.”

“It was such a narrow focus, it really demonstrates that the court knows this is a mistake, but that the conservative majority took it in the direction that they know they could…[b]ecause health care in this country is tied to your employer in this country and to have major disparities between your employers, even within the same system, is going to prove conservative employers will do damage to their female employees’ health,” Limehouse said.

However, some students actually saw this decision as a victory for religious freedom.

Melody Durrett, who studies at Linn-Benton Community College, said that she was “thrilled, [as] this is a huge victory for religious liberty and for standing up for the Constitution.”

“We have the right to follow our consciences and I think that’s what this decision was confirming...I think it will definitely set precedence for future cases with claims on religious liberty,” Durrett said.

Steven Nixon, a student at Penn State University, agrees with the decision and said so concisely with the claim, “That’s their company, that’s their decision.”

Follow the authors of this article on Twitter: @LaurenLouClark and @samantha_reinis