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Power of Older Adults vs. the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Decision

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What century is this? I have been obsessed lately with the retrograde decision made by the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case. Not only is it an outstanding example of the ongoing abasement of women and women’s health needs, it is a blow to the entire concept of democracy. This decision rips the fabric of our Constitution’s Establishment Clause and the division between church and state that this country was founded on. Additionally, it represents the continuation of the constant humiliation and oppression of over half of this country’s citizens.

images (51)The Hobby Lobby decision also reintroduces the antediluvian concept of women as children unable to make decisions about our own bodies. Not since the abolition of slavery have men had the right to own women’s bodies. Yet the men who serve on our country”s highest court and who voted to allow the erosion of our constitution, are determined to take us back to a very dark time in history and many people don’t understand why?

Perhaps, the most perverse dimension of this decision is that it gives control of our bodies to corporations. The thought of it makes me want to throw up! If this isn’t a call for single payer health insurance, I can’t think of an another example that so clearly illustrates why the concept of health insurance being tied to ones employment is no longer a viable option. In this age of technology, international commerce, and the rise in freelance and “permalance” employment, it is an arrangement that has seen its time. (“Permalance” is a vehicle used by employers who do not want to provide benefits, including healthcare, at all.) Now, added to this is the privilege given to employers by our Supreme Court to be able to determine the healthcare needs of their employees.

Several of my friends and acquaintances have asked me, “what can we do?” The expected outcry against this violation of human rights is from women of child bearing age. And, they should be screaming from the rooftops. We, as aging boomers and seniors, need to use our voices too. More important, however, is using our right to vote while we still have it to demonstrate how disgusted we are with those in power who would like us to be irrelevant. Seniors, both men and women, represent the highest voting demographic in the United States. We need to leverage this statistic wisely.

Our uteruses may no longer be fertile. Our minds, however, are more fertile than ever before. We now possess years of accumulated wisdom, and it is our responsibility to share. This, along with our determination as voters, enables us to exhibit a strength and power that we have shown before…during the Civil Rights Movement, the Feminist Movement (We did do that once, didn’t we?), the Anti-War Movement, and the Gay Rights Movement. We started those movements in the 60’s, and now we are in our sixties. We can’t quit now. If we want our daughters and granddaughters to know that they have to be vigilant in order to be free, we need to lead by example. How? First, by using our voices, and second by using our vote. Or, maybe it’s the other way around.

Yes, we are stuck with this Supreme Court shaped by George W. Bush during his second term in office which doesn’t mean that the tide of public opinion evidenced by who we vote for will not have a role to play as we move forward. As social workers, citizens, and long time members of our society, our individual and collective consciences demand we lead the way. We are not divested of our responsibility to society as we grow older; it’s the other way around. By virtue of our lives lived, the experiences we’ve had, and the wisdom we have gathered, it is incumbent upon us to take a leading role when speaking up for social injustices wherever we see them.

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As a political social worker, Alice is deeply interested in best practices in community building and an advocate for improving services and quality of life for older adults. She developed and runs Senator Liz Krueger’s Roundtable for Boomers & Seniors.She is particularly interested in the challenges of longevity in today’s ageing society, and Alice holds an M.S.W. from Hunter College School of Social Work.

          
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