Virtual Voices
Sandra Fluke
Associated Press/Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais (file)
Sandra Fluke

An open letter to Sandra Fluke

Healthcare Mandate

Dear Ms. Fluke:

This may seem hard to believe, but we have a lot in common. We both like a sense of security, and at the same time we like to have options: Freedom to grow and explore and yet have a place to come home to—isn’t that what just about everyone wants? Where we differ most, perhaps, is in what that looks like.

To you, one aspect of freedom means pursuing meaningful relationships without the burden of, shall we say, reproductive consequences. You’ve probably felt frustrated with conservative Christians about this: What is it with these people? They’re against abortion, so why aren’t they all over contraceptives? Better to prevent a pregnancy than kill a baby, right?

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But in your zeal for women’s rights, you are the one who’s declared war, not the other side. Is Sibelius v. Hobby Lobby truly a “potential catastrophe”? From your language, a reader unfamiliar with the case would presume that the owners of Hobby Lobby are trying to cut off coverage they’ve provided in the past. Instead, the Green family has always declined to cover four kinds of contraception, and object to changing its policy now. Yet the Greens are being required to do so—not by the law itself, but by dictum of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

(And that’s a big problem with the Affordable Care Act—it leaves too much to the discretion of an unelected agency, which might end up some day making regulations that you don’t like.)

You write, “If religious rights are extended to corporations, it puts us on a slippery slope where any private company could argue that religious beliefs prevent it from offering vital employee protections.” That’s one way to look at it. Here’s another: HHS built that slippery slope in its backyard, so to speak, then forced these private businesses to the top and dared them to make a move.

I sense a lack of trust. You describe a corporation as individuals who “cross over into the public sphere to … make a profit off the public.” You make it sound like the corporation is a leech, always looking for corners to cut. I see how it looks to you: If Hobby Lobby can “opt out” of certain forms of birth control, what’s to stop the XYZ Corporation from deciding it can’t cover blood transfusions or vaccinations? “Any critical health coverage the boss doesn’t agree with could be eliminated,” you say. But was it not your side that forced the issue? If a so-called “parade of horribles” commences, Hobby Lobby did not strike up the band.

What is to be served by rocking this particular boat, except ratcheting up the “war”? I agree that sometimes government has to be proactive to right a wrong, but is this the time? Corporations are people: owners, managers, and employees. Governments are people, too. If we tried relating to each other as people instead of clumsy “entities” that knock down five goals for every one they advance, the social justice you long to establish might not be so long in coming. I would like to talk about it. Can we get together for coffee?

Sincerely,

Janie

Janie B. Cheaney
Janie B. Cheaney

Janie lives in Missouri, is a columnist for WORLD, writes novels for young adults, and is the author of the Wordsmith creative writing series. She also reviews books at RedeemedReader.com. Follow Janie on Twitter @jbcheaney.

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