Slavery In 21st Century America

I’m angry! I thought America ended slavery with the adoption of the 13th Amendment back in the 19th century. Wednesday the Supreme Court proved me incorrect. Let’s explore.

In what will officially be recorded as a 7-2 decision in Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v Pennsylvania the Supreme Court ruled that employers who maintain they have either a religious or moral objection to their female employees’ birth control being covered under their health insurance plan may simply opt out of it.

For my nerdy readers I’ll break that numbers down a bit deeper. Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor were the two dissenters. Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan agreed in sending the case back down to the lower court but did not join the majority opinion. In reality it is a “quasi 5-4 ruling”.

Here is the effect and women along with anyone who feels women’s rights are human rights should be outraged. A woman’s reproductive activity is now controlled by her employer. Worse yet it is dynamic. A young woman could take a job with an employer who included contraception in their health care plan that suddenly gets religion or has a “moral moment” and decides to drop that provision from the company’s health care package. Since barring tragedy or purposeful alteration, childbearing capabilities last for decades this woman is faced with paying for the contraception out of pocket (which she may or may not be able to afford), quitting a job she presumably likes and taking the chance of finding another (not always an easy task especially in times of double digit unemployment like the present moment in the Trump Depression), or simply rolling the “pregnancy dice”. Unlike many in the gullible right wing I’m a realist and sudden celibacy is probably not practical.

One of the results of this ruling will be unwanted pregnancies many of which will end up in abortions (which the anti-abortion right wing professes to hate) or children born into poverty. The American right is anti-public education and certainly against the social safety net including government provided or supplemented heath care. Assuming that some forms of public schooling and health care survive this ruling will only increase their cost.

One thing that the minions have never considered but I’m certain their leaders have is that this surplus of poor kids will provide volunteers for the armed services and cheap exploitable labor that will soon be needed especially if we cut off the immigration of non-whites. (Trump – whose administration sought this ruling including filing an amicus brief – and his financiers have thought that far in advance.) Trump wants immigrants from almost lily white Norway but why would someone living in the top rated country in the world for satisfaction migrate to a country that barely breaks into the top twenty?

You might wonder why I am so exercised about the reproductive rights of young working families – yes families, not just women – when my wife and I are both old and retired. I am concerned because the Supreme Court’s ruling was both wrong and un-American. When you take a job you owe your employer a lot but control of your body is not one of your debts. Slaves owe their bodies to their masters; workers don’t owe their bodies to their employers. Slavery is immoral; employment shouldn’t be.

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