In September 2012, Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts and crafts stores, filed a lawsuit against the United States over a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) which mandated that health insurance provided by employers must include access to emergency contra-ceptives. Hobby Lobby stated that this provision violated their religious beliefs, and argued that they were protected by the First Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The Supreme Court eventually ruled in their favor. This panel will seek to discuss the various ethical issues associated with the intersection of religion and health care, and the implications of this ruling. Is it ethical for a corporation to determine the exact services included in government-mandated health insurance for religious reasons? Furthermore, did this PPACA provision prevent Hobby Lobby from freely exercising religion, for which the RFRA was initially enacted?
ZYGO is a joint program of the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study and the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics. The series is organized by USC students in health and medicine who seek dialogue with USC faculty across disciplines in order to increase the integration of ethical themes into their curriculum.
Varun Soni, dean of Religious Life, has truly led a polymathic life, earning degrees from Harvard Divinity School, a J.D. from UCLA School of Law, and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Cape Town. His research has taken him throughout South Asia where he even spent time living in a Buddhist monastery. Dean Soni is currently a University Fellow at USC Annenberg's Center on Public Diplomacy and is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. He is a member of the State Bar of California, the American Academy of Religion, and the Association for College and University Religious Affairs. Displaying a truly polymathic interest in music, he also produced and hosted his own radio show on Pacifica / KPFK, showcasing music from South Asia and its Diaspora. Born in India and raised in Southern California, he has family on five continents and they collectively represent every major religious tradition in the world.
Hilary Schor is a professor of English and gender studies at USC’s College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, with joint appointments in the department of comparative literature and the law school. She also is a member and past director of the USC Center for Law, History and Culture. Her scholarship focuses on narrative theory; law, property and the nature of subjectivity in literature; and popular culture and film. Professor Schor has taught at USC since 1986. She is an active faculty participant in the University of California Dickens Project, where she regularly leads graduate seminars and organizes conferences on such topics as “Victorian Soundings,” “Victoria Redressed: Feminism and Nineteenth-Century Studies,” and “Victorian Terror.” Her books include Scheherezade in the Marketplace: Elizabeth Gaskell and the Victorian Novel (Oxford, 1992) and Dickens and the Daughter of the House (Cambridge, 1999). She also has written essays in companions to numerous books on Dickens, Jane Austen, Victorian novels and Victorian literature and culture. She has received numerous fellowships and awards, including a 2002 Zumberge Faculty Research Fellowship from USC; a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship; a Stanford Humanities Center Fellowship; and a Graves Foundation Fellowship. Her current research centers on women and realism.