Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Corporations Trying to Weasel out of ACA Requirements for Birth Control Coverage

The U.S. Supreme Court is now hearing several cases brought by corporations whose owners are “religious” to the point of wanting to deny paying for birth control /contraception coverage (as required under the A.C.A.) for their employees because it allegedly offends the owners' personal religious beliefs.

This is wrongheaded, of course, and a high-handed infringement on the rights of individual employees to coverage. But one of the arguments sure to be used in pleading the cause for “personhood” on the part of these companies (as a person, one’s religious beliefs must be respected) is the recent Citizens United decision recognizing corporate personhood for the purposes of political campaign donations.

However, there is an important distinction. The argument can be made that contributions to political causes and candidates can affect a for-profit corporation’s revenues and financial well being, because a candidate or political party may be relied upon to support legislation that favors such corporations—or actively oppose legislation and regulations that are seen to have the opposite effect. Corporations are required by their charters to maximize shareholder value: this is their sole purpose.

But adhering to a particular religious doctrine is not part of a corporation’s mission, no matter how devout the CEO or board of directors. Therefore the attempted connection between political-donation corporate personhood and religious-dogma corporate personhood ought to fail by any reasonable standards and common sense.

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