Monday, June 30, 2014

Today Five Members of the U.S. Supreme Court Moved Us Closer to a Theocracy

Today the Supreme Court ruled that private, family-owned businesses--in this case, Hobby Lobby--could opt out of paying for contraceptives if their objections to them are based on the owners' religious beliefs.

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.
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:
  • 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
Plans aren’t required to cover:
  • Drugs to induce abortions
  • Services related to a man’s reproductive capacity, like vasectomies
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.)

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)


  1. brilliantatbreakfastJune 30, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    First of all, conception is implantation, not fertilization. So an IUD is not an abortion. Second of all, these so-called Christians had no objections to providing these contraceptive methods until a president was elected whose pigmentation they deemed to be unseemly.

  2. Hypocrisy doesn't phase them at all. And you're right--that dark skin did seem to set them off. So very Christian of them.

  3. I was not utterly surprised by this ruling, considering the five males responsible. But in spite of trying to prepare myself for it? I was shocked so deeply that I just burned white hot (like Christian hell) evaporating off the Scotch I imbibed to try to stop the mental whirling -- NO effect, damn it. The presumed religious freedom of the female employees apparently had NO currency at ALL with the five male members of the SCOTUS. Perhaps they don't think women really HAVE souls at all, and thereby don't need their own religious or ethical standards.

  4. So it's the scotch that does it. Hmmmm. ;)

    Good point about the religions of the female employees. We're in an age (again) where employees are just there to do the company's bidding and have no rights because they're not really human. They're workers. They should be glad they have jobs at all.

    Someone on Liberaland questioned my title, saying "theocracy" is a bit strong and doesn't apply. Well, no it doesn't. Yet. But it will if we don't pay attention. Private companies using religion as a reason to make decisions for their employees would be illegal in a real democracy. Instead, our highest court sees nothing wrong with it. They have just held open the door and welcomed the religious zealots inside. It's only a matter of time now, unless we recognize the import of this decision and how it will impact future secular vs. religious decisions.

  5. Already, Obama has got a letter asking him to take action to allow the religious exception to discriminate against gays and lesbians in the interest of showing "deference to religious prerogatives" -- so, yeah, I'd say if they are given an inch, they will take a mile. Danger ahead...

  6. I see that more and more progressive religious leaders are protesting the decision Good for them!

    By the way, Labrys, I really like both of your sites but I have a hard time reading them--especially the darker gray sidebars. Thought you would want to know.

  7. Unfortunately, the theme I use does not let me change the color behind the type without paying money. Of which (with retirement looming, bill paying, and household renovation under way, I have NONE of...a first world problem, but there it is.)

  8. I get it. I know most people like Wordpress best, but I actually prefer Blogspot for its ease of use and ability to change things on most of the themes. I used Wordpress because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and I can't say I'm all that impressed with it. I keep hearing rumors that Blogspot basically owns my site and could shut it down at any time, but since I cross-post in other places I'm not worried. I've also never heard of it happening.

    My Wordpress blog, Constant Commoner, isn't exactly the way I would like it but there seemed to be quite a few free themes where I could adjust things like column size, fonts and background colors. Have you played with other themes to see if they'll work?

  9. The SC could care less about public opinion. The SC won and that is all they care about. Nothing will change unless women start a strong response aimed at the organizations taking away their freedom.

  10. I did spend about a week a while back switching themes randomly, tho' the number of decent looking ones available free is reduced somewhat. I really disliked most of them. And then, for me? A white bright background HURTS my since I am looking at mine a LOT, as I blog daily on two different blogs....I finally went back to the one I had begun with years ago,

  11. I use the twentyten theme on my Wordpress blog and I like it because it's easily customizable. I'm not a big fan of all white background, either, but you can adjust most of them to give them a creamy or grayer background that is still easy on the eyes.

    My blog using a customized Twenty Ten:

  12. I feel remarkably stupid. I believe it is Twenty Ten I am using, and yet I cannot find a way to adjust the background color at all. When I try, it suggests I buy a 'custom package." Not in my budget right now...


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