Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby. In case you’ve been in a cave for the last year, I’ll do a brief recap. Hobby Lobby filed a lawsuit regarding the Obamacare HHS mandate, because they believed their religious convictions were being violated. The HHS mandate requires that employers must provide healthcare packages to their employees that cover all forms of contraception. The owners of Hobby Lobby are Christians, and they are morally opposed to the Plan B pill, otherwise known as the abortion pill, because it can terminate an already fertilized embryo. Their moral opposition is not to contraceptives, but to the abortion pill specifically–though Plan B is still classified as a contraceptive. The Supreme Court ruled in their favor yesterday in a 5-4 decision.
Over the course of the day yesterday, I saw numerous Facebook posts mourning the SCOTUS decision, calling it a blow to women’s rights. After wading through the comments section of a Buzzfeed article regarding the decision, I came to the conclusion that those making the arguments against the SCOTUS ruling didn’t fully understand the ruling, nor did they understand the importance of religious liberty. Let’s run through the arguments:
Argument: This ruling will allow other religious business owners to refuse to cover certain services or products which they find morally objectionable. Jehovah’s Witnesses could refuse to cover blood transfusions, and Scientologists could refuse to cover anti-depressants.
I believe that the exemption will extend to those practicing religions other than Christianity. It’s possible, though not likely, that other religious business owners will use this ruling to justify exempting themselves from participating in, or directly paying for products, and services that would stand in contradiction to their closely held religious convictions. I believe this is a good thing, however.
The original intent of those who came to this country was to escape religious persecution. They came here to start a nation in which a state religion could not be established. The idea behind the separation of church and state (though not actually in the constitution) is not a freedom from religion, but a freedom of religion. If we abandon that understanding, and if we endorse the idea that the federal government can tell Americans to violate something that is as much a part of who they are as their consciousness, we will have violated a basic, and some would argue most essential, liberty.
But what’s the solution? Obviously, nobody wants to have an insurance plan that wouldn’t cover something such as a blood transfusion. This is where the idea of employer-based health insurance is no longer a viable option. Personally, I don’t believe insurance should be tied to our employers, I believe the money allocated from our pay checks to pay for our health insurance should simply remain part of our salary. It should then be up to the individual consumer to find the insurance that works best for them.
Argument: Why is Viagra covered, but not contraception?
The answer to this one is pretty simple, actually. Viagra, and birth control are very different products. Viagra has no effect on the life, or the potential life, of a child. Personally, I’m not opposed to contraception outside of Plan B, but there are major religious groups that are, such as the Catholic Church. Additionally, Plan B terminates an already fertilized embryo, which is why it’s referred to as the abortion pill. Those who are opposed to abortion are also obviously opposed to Plan B. However, because Plan B is classified as a contraceptive, it falls under the umbrella of the HHS mandate. Because of moral opposition to contraceptives, and Plan B, the court has decided that businesses run by those who are morally opposed to such products don’t have to violate their religious convictions by covering them. As far as I know, there aren’t any religions that are opposed to erections. So, that’s why Viagra is safe. It’s not part of the vast anti-women conspiracy.
Argument: This ruling is tantamount to religious beliefs being forced upon women who may not share the same convictions.
There is no foundation for this argument. Hobby Lobby is an independent business at which someone can choose to work, or not. No one is being forced to work at Hobby Lobby. All the SCOTUS ruling means is that Hobby Lobby doesn’t have to pay for drugs that can induce miscarriages—specifically Plan B—to which they are morally opposed. Women are not being banned from purchasing contraception at large, they are being told that if they work for an employer whose religious convictions would be violated were they to cover Plan B, and they will have to go elsewhere for their miscarriage-inducing drugs. No one is being forced to do, or believe anything.
Once again, the simple solution to this entire issue is to decouple insurance from our employment. That way, everyone can buy the insurance that best covers their particular needs, and wants, without forcing anyone to violate their religious convictions.
Those were the main arguments I was encountering yesterday, though I’m sure there are many more. In the end, this was a major victory for our freedom, though it gives me pause that the ruling was so close. Essentially, we have four Supreme Court justices who believe that the government should be allowed to force people to violate their closely held religious convictions for the convenience of others. I wonder how much longer we have until those of us who hold the right to practice our faith without fear of reprisal as our nation’s most sacred freedom become the minority.