It's amazing how easily a non-issue can be blown so far out of proportion - even to the point of becoming a case before the United States Supreme Court.
To hear the Left tell it, you would think that the Supreme Court just declared Christianity to be America's supreme religion, and made all contraceptives illegal in the U.S. for the rest of time and all eternity. The truth, of course, is a different matter.
The owners of Hobby Lobby, a company that provides insurance (which includes contraceptive coverage) to its employees, sued the federal government over a provision of the Affordable Care Act which has come to be known as the contraceptive mandate. It's important to note that the contraceptive mandate was not part of the Affordable Care Act when it was passed by the Democrat majority in 2010. This mandate was added to the law later on by the department of Health and Human Services, thanks to one of several clauses in the ACA that enabled HHS to make all kinds of changes to the law after its passage, basically ensuring that Nancy Pelosi was correct: we really did have to pass the law to find out what was in it, because a good portion of it hadn't even been written yet.
The biggest problem with the controversy surrounding the Supreme Court's decision is that it is based entirely on lies and misinformation.
For starters, even after the Supreme Court's decision, Hobby Lobby will be providing insurance coverage for 16 out of the 20 FDA-approved contraceptive drugs. The only four drugs they object to being forced to cover are the abortifascients, those contraception methods which cause the abortion of a human fetus. Considering the fact that millions of Americans believe that life begins at conception, it is hardly a surprise that religious Americans would have objections to the government forcing them, through their companies, to subsidize their employees' abortions - and there is absolutely no reason why the government should do so.
In reading the Court's opinion, two things jumped out at me...
This was not a First Amendment case.
The Court did not evaluate the contraceptive mandate in light of the First Amendment...to do so would likely have required the Court to throw it out entirely. Instead, they evaluated the mandate against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993
The RFRA was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in response to the fact that the Supreme Court had found that laws which were "generally applicable," that is, did not target specific religions, could not be construed to violate the First Amendment - a finding that was entirely incorrect. RFRA restored a previously-established "compelling interest test." The disturbing thing about this "compelling interest test" is that apparently, even under the RFRA, Congress can
pass laws that violate the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause as long as they prove the laws serve a "compelling government interest.
I've read the Bill of Rights many times over the years, but apparently I somehow missed the "Compelling Government Interest" clause of the First Amendment.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances...unless there is a compelling government interest.
The Court stated that the contraceptive mandate does serve a "compelling government interest," but still violated RFRA for other reasons.
They left the door wide open.
The Court ruled that the contraceptive mandate, as currently applied,
violates the RFRA because "There are other ways in which Congress or HHS could equally ensure that every woman has cost-free access to the particular contraceptives at issue here and, indeed, to all FDA-approved contraceptives." The Court's opinion even provided some suggestions for doing so.
It just so happens that HHS already provided a system whereby religious non-profits could be exempted from the contraceptive mandate, but employees can still get coverage for all 20 FDA-approved contraceptives - and as the Court pointed out, the government never really gave a good reason why they couldn't extend that same program to corporations, as well.
Or, the government could just out-and-out subsidize all 20 FDA-approved forms of contraception. According to the opinion of the United States Supreme Court, that would be a perfectly legal way for the government to ensure that women can obtain whatever form of birth control they desire for free (except for those who pay taxes...the Court glaringly neglected to mention the religious rights of us taxpayers who object to our money being used to subsidize abortions).
So the notion that our radical right-wing Supreme Court is turning our nation into a theocracy reminiscent of the Middle Ages is laughable. The people making that claim certainly weren't singing the same tune when the very same Court struck down California's Proposition 8.
We could have a new contraceptive mandate tomorrow...all that has to happen is for HHS to make up a new regulation, and taxpayers across America could be paying for free contraceptives for everyone. Sounds like out-of-control religious zealotry to me.
Of course, central to all of this controversy is a significant misunderstanding of just what is and isn't a fundamental right. According to the Left in America, women have the fundamental right to get any form of birth control under the sun and not pay a dime for it...but if someone goes out and starts a company, they don't have the right to determine whether or not their own company will subsidize abortions for their employees. In fact, the latest argument seems to be that they have no First Amendment rights at all as related to their business...unless their corporation supports gay marriage or abortion or Democrat politicians, and then it's okay.
Here's the thing: my wife has asthma. There is a medicine she could take to help prevent asthma attacks, but our insurance doesn't cover it. Without coverage, a 30-day supply costs around $250. I like to think that my wife has a right to breathe, but since we can't really afford to shell out three grand every year, we have had to forgo that medicine for some time now. So when I hear so many women complaining that they have to pay $15 to $30 per month for birth control pills because contraceptives are a "right," it gets under my skin just a little bit. But if I were to start picketing my employer and writing to my Congressman demanding that the government require my boss to only choose insurance plans that cover my wife's asthma medication, that would make me an idiot of the highest order. And so, I choose the more rational route of doing my job and working toward the day when my job provides health coverage that helps us out with that medication.
Of course, one of the most ridiculous arguments in this debate is that corporations shouldn't be meddling in their employees' sex lives...because we all know that refusing to subsidize a thing amounts to meddling in that aspect of your life. I totally agree of course, your employer should not be making your medical decisions for you, or telling you whether you should have sex, or whom you should have sex with. Neither should the government.
But just because an employer doesn't want to cover certain things for any reason,
that doesn't mean that they are "denying access" to that thing. Hobby Lobby doesn't want to subsidize abortifascient forms of birth control, but they aren't stopping people from going out and paying for an IUD or the morning after pill with their own money. Despite the hyperbolic claims of the Left, no women have been stoned to death by extremist Christian corporations for the horrific blasphemy that is birth control.
By the Left's illogic, the fact that my employer doesn't subsidize my wardrobe means that he is denying me clothing. The fact that he doesn't pay my cable bill means that he is denying me entertainment. The fact that he isn't making my mortgage payments for me means that he is denying me shelter. The fact that he doesn't pay for the gas in my car means that he is denying me transportation. The fact that someone else isn't paying for everything in my life means I am a victim of horrible injustices, and it just isn't fair!
The bottom line is this: just because you want something, that doesn't mean you have a "right" to it - not even if you really, really, really, REALLY, REALLY
And if free contraceptives and abortifascients are that important to you, check up on your employer's health plan before you take a job. Or is reading just too hard in this modern age?
Considering the amount of angst in our nation over the prospect that some people may have to pay for things, I suspect the answer is "yes."