The case came to the attention of the Supremes when the Affordable Care Act included this mandate:
Birth control benefits:
Plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace must cover contraceptive methods and counseling for all women, as prescribed by a health care provider.Hobby Lobby argues that they don't want to pay for any services that might cause the end of life. They consider FDA-approved morning-after pills--like Plan B--abortion pills, even though the pills have to be used within 72 hours after intercourse. Within three days. They consider certain IUDs as obstacles in the path of fertilized eggs. (Fertilized eggs are apparently babies in their eyes.)
These plans must cover the services without charging a copayment, coinsurance, or deductible when they are provided by an in-network provider.
Covered contraceptive methods:All Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods prescribed by a woman’s doctor are covered, including:
Plans aren’t required to cover:
- Barrier methods (used during intercourse), like diaphragms and sponges
- Hormonal methods, like birth control pills and vaginal rings
- Implanted devices, like intrauterine devices (IUDs)
- Emergency contraception, like Plan B® and ella®
- Sterilization procedures
- Patient education and counseling
- Drugs to induce abortions
- Services related to a man’s reproductive capacity, like vasectomies
If the owners of Hobby Lobby want to believe that life begins at conception, let them. It's a free country. They can believe anything they want to believe, religious or otherwise. What they can't do--or shouldn't be able to do--is to push their religious beliefs on their employees. One of the benefits of the newly minted Affordable Care Act was a mandate to provide free contraceptive care for women who need it. Hobby Lobby balked and decided they shouldn't have to pay for something that might keep women from having babies.
When the Right Wing came up with the loony notion that life begins at conception, they opened the doors to misusing religion to force women to give up the ability to forestall pregnancies. There is no legitimate religious basis for denying women the right to free contraception. None at all.
Contraception isn't, by definition, abortion, except in the minds of those looking for any excuse to involve themselves in deciding for women when they should have children. When contraception is the obvious and most humane solution to unwanted pregnancies, there is no humane reason not to make it available and free.
So what I'm seeing from those five men on the Supreme Court is yet another example of ideology as law. ("Corporations are people" being the most jaw-dropping and the most precedent-forming. Hobby Lobby couldn't have won without it.) They're treading on dangerous territory. They're giving judicial approval to religious solutions for societal issues, and, as the judicial branch of a secular government, they're knowingly abusing their authority.
But worse, they're telling women that when it comes to reproductive protections, religious theory trumps their right not to be burdened by the worry of unintended pregnancies.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg, in her dissent, said this:
Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.
Indeed, by law, no religion-based criterion can restrict the work force of for-profit corporations...The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.We are a country made up of diverse cultures and religions. We welcome them, we encourage them, we give them the freedom to live within their own cultures and worship within their own religions. At the same time, we expect the freedom not to have to follow along.
But this Supreme Court, in the name of free speech, just forced us to give in to specific religious beliefs. There was a time when that would have been inconceivable.
Lord knows, we were safer then.
(Cross-posted at dagblog and Alan Colmes' Liberaland)