Ethics can be defined as a set of moral principles that regulate behavioral characteristics of an individual or the manner of conducting an activity. More specifically, these behaviors or activities are considered morally acceptable to the contemporary society. Furthermore, ethical standards may vary from one community to the other due to disparities in culture and traditional practices. However, in any case, they are the individuality aspects that are perceived to be rightful by a particular group of people. Ewing (2013) reiterated that violating the societal codes of conduct may have consequences or sometimes even punishable by the governing rules. Therefore, people ought to maintain proper ethics to avoid the punishments associated with their contravention. Religious principles also model the social standards of a community as they teach about the spiritual aspects of individuality and advocate for positive behaviors. Even so, the two do not contradict each other since they are all meant to promote an ethical lifestyle.
The cases of Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College’s decision to decline birth control coverage for their students or employees were absolute violations of social ethics due to misconceptions about some religious concepts. For example, the Wheaton College medical program decided to quit its operations to avoid contravening with the new policy requirements to cover for birth control services. Similarly, Hobby Lobby won a lawsuit to exempt it from providing coverage for birth control as it was a family-owned corporation. The 2010 federal policy of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as the “Obamacare” intended to increase health insurance and coverage within the United States and assist people financially for their healthcare needs that would otherwise be costly (Pear & Kaplan, 2017). Besides, this policy could be effectively enforced through healthcare organizations such as the Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College by using their existing medical care plans. However, both groups disregarded the government’s efforts to increase healthcare coverage across the country based on mere allegations about violation of religious principles. Although these claims did not have supportive evidence, the two ended up making wrong decisions.
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The formulation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the United States marked a major transformation of the whole system of healthcare in the country. The aggressiveness of this medical care program was as a result of the compassionate efforts by the government to improve the quality of healthcare as well as the affordability of medical care by its citizens. Moreover, the government also intended to increase the number of people covered by health insurance schemes, which would significantly reduce the costs of healthcare. Therefore, this program would also safeguard the economy by minimizing the budget allocation meant for funding the health sector. In the case of the resolutions made by both Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College to stop their healthcare services, it was a negative reaction to the program meant to improve the entire health agency. The decisions by the two organizations hindered the implementation of the Affordable Care Act that sought to increase healthcare coverage, insurance, and affordability to the American citizens. In essence, this policy intended to control healthcare costs through subsidized services and shift the focus of healthcare from quantity to quality. However, the compromise by the two organizations, Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College medical programs, to quit their services meant a failure for this transformative project. Furthermore, their actions were unethical since both groups failed to fulfill their mandate of safeguarding the welfare of the society, thus casting blame on violation of purported religious principles.
Further, the two agencies, Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College, also declined to provide birth control coverage for reasons that lacked sufficient proof. The claims about the reasons for their reluctance to cover for birth control were solely based on the notions about violating the religious principles of the organizations governing them. However, these assertions seem to be ill founded since religious principles are meant to guide people the way to behave under different circumstances in the social world. Religion is just a platform where people learn the spiritual aspects of living and does not contradict the social ethics of a community in any way (Callahan, 2013). Hence, religion ought to have promoted their motivation for providing health services rather than limit their capabilities to serve the needs of other people.
Besides, other evangelical organizations did not oppose the vice despite being based on the same religious backgrounds of Christianity. Therefore, it is clear that there were conceptual differences that divided the organization’s beliefs of Christianity with those of other Protestant institutions. Furthermore, these cases were clear indications of failure of the two groups by demonstrating lack of awareness in their religion and the underlying beliefs. While the two organizations believed the birth control coverage would neglect the sanctity of life, other Christians believed that only those methods that involved sterilization, uterine device implants, and other techniques that prevented fertilization equated to abortion. Consequently, this rationality was a clear indication that the lawsuits filed by the two organizations lacked enough proof and thus, it was a subject for dismissal. Notably, the birth control policies included in the ACA did not violate the religious principles of the organizations. Rather, they just appeared to be in contrast to some aspects of their religious beliefs due to ideological misconceptions and misinterpretations, but did not violate the ethical codes in the society.
- Callahan, S. (Ed.). (2013). The roots of ethics: Science, religion, and values. New York: Springer Science & Business Media.
- Ewing, A. C. (2013). The morality of punishment: With some suggestions for a general theory of ethics. London: Routledge.
- Pear, R., & Kaplan, T. (2017, September 18). Obamacare repeal, thought dead in July, may be revived in senate. Nytimes.