As you’ve no doubt heard, the Supreme Court made a 5 – 4 ruling today saying that Hobby Lobby, as well as other privately-held companies, didn’t have to provide birth control coverage for their employees. In the same ruling, the court also were quick to note that this doesn’t allow them to skirt various other equal protection laws. So apparently this applies only to birth control.
But…why? Why should it? The company’s logic seems to be that they shouldn’t have to pay for something they find immoral. Fair enough. But they’re not paying for the pills; they’re only paying for the insurance. Yes, the insurance company would then be using the money they are given to cover birth control pills, but that’s not the same as them paying for it directly, right? I mean, they’re giving money to someone who is using that money to buy birth control, and they don’t like that. But if they’re allowed that sort of leeway with money they give to people, then doesn’t it stand to reason that they should be allowed to tell employees they can’t use their own paychecks to buy birth control? It amounts to the same thing, surely. This also ignores the many, many other uses for the pill that have nothing to do with birth control. A friend of mine pointed out that the pill still prevents ovulation in those cases, so they shouldn’t have to cover it. But radiation can render people infertile. Should Hobby Lobby, etc, be excused from covering radiation therapy?
Also, despite the court’s rather weak note that this doesn’t apply to various equal protection laws, yeah, I’m calling bullshit on that. If I believed that Jews were the devil, shouldn’t I be allowed to not serve them in my business? Isn’t forcing me to do so a violation of my religious freedom? How can the courts justify saying that one form of religious protection is acceptable, but the other isn’t?
Even if we just limited it to medical practices, can’t a place owned by Witnesses refuse to provide blood transfusion coverage? What about a place owned by Christian Scientists? Are they now exempt from providing any insurance? Or what about a place that’s run by extremely religious homophobes. Should they be allowed to refuse to provide coverage for AIDS medication? Or suppose it’s run by Catholics. Can they refuse to provide coverage for someone’s new spouse if they remarry after a divorce?
This is an extremely slippery slope. When the exemptions applied only to directly religious organizations (churches, mosques, etc), that made sense. But allowing private businesses into the mix? This is not going to end well, and twenty years from now, I’m fairly sure the court will wince at this like they did when they looked back at how they ruled in 1986 that sodomy laws should be upheld. This was a very bad ruling.