A collection of quotes that sum up my views and feelings on the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling this week. Links to sources and further reading.
“This is a deeply troubling decision. For the first time, the highest court in the country has said that business owners can use their religious beliefs to deny their employees a benefit that they are guaranteed by law,” said Louise Melling, the deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement. “Religious freedom is a fundamental right, but that freedom does not include the right to impose beliefs on others. In its ruling today, the Court simply got it wrong.”
“As angry as I am on behalf of women, I am equally upset for people of faith — true faith, not the kind that spreads hate and fear in the name of religion. I’m not a religious person, but I am empathetic. Having religious beliefs lumped in with profits made off selling glue guns and cheap items made in China demeans their faith.” … “I’m angry on behalf of women who keep having to fight the same fight over and over. And I’m sad on behalf of the people who want to practice their religion with dignity. They’re losers in this decision, too.”
“…while conservatives would have the American public believe that protecting Hobby Lobby is about protecting all religious people, the reality is that today’s ruling actually hurts people of faith. In fact, a Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) survey conducted in early June found that a substantial majority of almost every major U.S. Christian group support the idea that publicly-held corporations and privately-owned corporations should be required to provide employees with healthcare plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost. This is likely why so many progressive Christian leaders have vocally opposed Hobby Lobby in the press, why Americans United for the Separation of Church and State submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court opposing Hobby Lobby on behalf of nearly 30 religious organizations, and why both the Jewish Social Policy Action Network and the American Jewish Committee submitted their own amicus briefs decrying the corporation’s position.”
“…any attempt to broaden the legal status of businesses to include religious exemptions — however well-intentioned — is inconsistent, dangerous, and unfair to other religious Americans. ‘One way to look at it is this: The whole point of establishing a corporation is to create an entity separate from oneself to limit legal liability…Therefore, Hobby Lobby is asking for special protections/liability limits that only a corporation can get on the one hand, and special protections that only individuals, churches and religious organizations get, on the other. It seems awfully dangerous to allow corporations to have it both ways.'”
The following is an excerpt from a great article on Think Progress that opposes the claim that birth control should be separated from other types of medical services:
Hobby Lobby opponents have been concerned about the case’s implication for services beyond contraception, pointing out that other companies might cite their religious beliefs to refuse coverage for vaccinations, blood transfusions, or services for transgender individuals. The Court briefly attempted to quell those concerns, specifying that Monday’s decision “concerns only the contraceptive mandate” and shouldn’t be interpreted to apply to other services like vaccines.
That’s perhaps well-intentioned, but it brings up questions about what exactly makes birth control different from those other health services. Why should it be singled out? Why do female employees need a workaround to access their reproductive health care? Why are employers allowed to refuse coverage for services that solely affect women, but not other medical interventions that serve the public good, like vaccinations?
Because that’s the thing about birth control. For many women across the United States, of all different religious, political and socioeconomic backgrounds, it’s an absolutely essential part of how they stay healthy. From pain management and menstrual cycle regulation to straight-up family planning, here are just some of the ways that birth control has been a very, very good thing in the lives of real women.
Oh, and have we talked about how the claims that those “only four” forms of contraception are abortifacient are not backed by science?
The baseline question here is whether potentially and intentionally preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg constitutes abortion. That’s not the medical definition of abortion, which is ending a pregnancy. But let’s say your sincerely held belief is that interfering with the implantation of a fertilized egg is tantamount to abortion, as it is for the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood owners. There is very little evidence showing that the objected-to methods – two forms of intrauterine devices and two forms of emergency contraception – even work that way, with the exception of the copper IUD.
There are two kinds of emergency contraception on the market: an over-the-counter one generally known as Plan B and a prescription-only one known as Ella. According to the amicus brief filed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and several other medical associations, “there is no scientiﬁc evidence that emergency contraceptives available in the United States and approved by the FDA affect an existing pregnancy.” Instead, they prevent ovulation, so there is no egg to fertilize. That includes the longer-acting Ella: “There is no evidence that [Ella] affects implantation.”
One form of the IUD, known on the market at the Mirena, includes hormones that prevent ovulation. The other, preferred by women who experience side effects from artificial hormones, doesn’t. “When used as emergency contraception” – i.e., after unprotected sexual activity – “the [non-hormonal IUD] could also act to prevent implantation,” according to the amicus.
If you’re keeping count, that’s one out of four that maybe does what the plaintiffs say it does, in the rare instances it’s inserted after unprotected sex – and that’s still not the medical definition of abortion.
The company argues that emergency contraception pills, such as Ella and Plan B, destroy fertilized eggs by interfering with implantation in the uterus. Hobby Lobby’s owners consider this abortion. But the pills don’t work that way. When Plan B first came on the market in 1999, its mechanism for preventing unplanned pregnancies wasn’t entirely clear. That’s why the FDA-approved labeling reflected some uncertainty and said that the pills “theoretically” prevent pregnancy by interfering with implantation. Since then, though, there has been a lot of research on how these pills work, and the findings are definitive: They prevent pregnancy by blocking ovulation. In fact, they don’t work once ovulation has occurred. As Corbin recently wrote in a law review article, “Every reputable scientific study to examine Plan B’s mechanism has concluded that these pills prevent fertilization from occurring in the first place…In short, Plan B is contraception.”
Labels on these products have been updated in Europe to reflect the science, and the Catholic Church in Germany dropped its opposition to local Catholic hospitals providing emergency contraception to rape victims after reviewing the evidence. The science is so clear, in fact, that even Dennis Miller, an abortion foe and director of the bioethics center at the Christian Cedarville University, concluded that emergency contraception drugs don’t cause abortions. Last year, he told Christianity Today. “[O]ur claims of conscience should be based on scientific fact, and we should be willing to change our claims if the facts change.” (IUDs generally work like spermicide, preventing conception.)
The justices who joined the Court’s 5-4 opinion didn’t appear to be concerned about scientific evidence, however. Monday’s decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, simply allows the business owners to follow their own definition of abortion. “The owners of the businesses have religious objections to abortion, and according to their religious beliefs the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients,” he writes. “If the owners comply with the HHS mandate, they believe they will be facilitating abortions.”
Without challenging the plaintiffs’ definition of what constitutes an abortion or an abortion-inducing drug, the Supreme Court has essentially allowed unscientific beliefs about birth control to carry the weight of the law.
“The Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, the company’s owners argued, forced them to violate their religious beliefs. But while it was suing the government, Hobby Lobby spent millions of dollars on an employee retirement plan that invested in the manufacturers of the same contraceptive products the firm’s owners cite in their lawsuit.”
Are you getting all of this? Let me reiterate that The Company’s Retirement Plan Invests in Contraception Manufacturers. Hypocritical much? Oh, and speaking of hypocrisy…
I strongly encourage you to click over to Sex, Lies, And Craft Supplies. It’s a very well thought-out, informative piece on why the five arguments Conservatives are making hailing the decision are all factually wrong.
It’s understandable that conservatives are gloating. In one fell swoop, the Supreme Court has constrained government power, expanded corporate rights, and protected religious tyranny. That individual rights were also destroyed doesn’t seem to bother conservatives very much, as the rights in question mainly concern women who have sex for reasons other than procreation. As Erin Gloria Ryan put it in her brilliant satirical response to the ruling, “Corporations are people, my friend. Women? Not so much.”
But this slut-shaming is extremely disturbing. Never mind that 99 percent of American women (PDF) have used birth control at some point in their lives (and 1 in 3 will have abortions). Women have sex. Even poor women. Some might even call that freedom. Valenti points out that in one brief filed supporting Hobby Lobby’s suit, a male lawyer argues, “since sexual relations are basically a voluntary activity. … [S]ex is only a human want (like bowling or stamp collecting), not an actual need.” Oh, okay then… And yet Hobby Lobby still covers Viagra and vasectomies. And I don’t hear any conservatives attacking men who use those medicines or procedures as “sluts.”
Source: Sex, Lies, And Craft Supplies
This is a scary precedent. The Notorious R.B.G. put it best: “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.” –Ruth Bader Ginsburg
I signed this, and if you agree with any of the information above, I encourage you to consider signing it as well: Planned Parenthood Petition to Join the Dissent
I might go to this rally in September: