When ‘Religious Liberty’ Was Used To Deny All Health Care To Women And Not Just Birth Control
By Ian Millhiser on March 23, 2014 at 9:30 am
"On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear Hobby Lobby’s and Conestoga Wood Specialties’ claims that they should be exempt from their legal obligations to provide a full range of health coverage — in this case, contraceptive care for women — because they object to providing this coverage on religious grounds. Yet, for women who worked for a California private school in the 1980s, this lawsuit must feel like déjŕ vu. Nearly three decades ago, the Fremont Christian School claimed a similar right to deny health coverage to its female employees, citing its religious beliefs as justification for doing so. Fremont Christian’s case does bear one important difference from Hobby Lobby’s, however, they did not just want to deny birth control to their employees — they wanted to deny all health coverage to many of the women in their employ.
Fremont was owned by a church which claimed that “in any marriage, the husband is the head of the household and is required to provide for that household.” Because of this belief, they had a very unusual compensation package for their employees — though Fremont offered a health plan to its workers, the plan was only available to “heads of households” which Fremont interpreted to mean single people or married men. When a woman became married, she was to rely on her husband for health care. "
When 'Religious Liberty' Was Used To Deny All Health Care To Women And Not Just Birth Control | ThinkProgress
First, let's dispose of Hobby Lobby's primary argument, that they don't oppose any contraceptives...but rather only use of the "Plan B" pill (and equivalents), as well as IUDs, as abortifacients.
"The Greens contend that the ACA's requirement that health insurance plans cover contraception will force them to choose between violating their religious beliefs or suffer huge financial penalties for violating the law. They don't object to covering all contraception, only the emergency contraceptive pills Plan B and Ella and intrauterine devices (IUDs), which they (erroneously) believe are abortifacients... 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... (IUDs generally work like spermicide, preventing conception.)"
These facts are not open to dispute. Even the Catholic Church and the bioethics center at Christian Cedarville University accept these facts AS facts. Unfortunately the scientific facts are not before the Supreme Court (if they were this case would be resolved in a matter of seconds.)
What is before the Supreme Court is whether the business is distinguishable from the owners. If the answer is "yes" then Hobby Lobby's case must fail, because the owners' belief systems do not govern. If the answer is "no", then the SCOTUS opens the door to a bunch of unintended consequences, not the least of which is to overturn (in fact) all the protections the law affords the CEOs and Corporate Officers in the matter of being sued for the bad acts (or negligence) of their corporations. One cannot claim that the identity and values of the company are identical (and inseparable) from those of the corporate officers (in the matter of religious values governing how the company operates) and then claim that they are separate entities in all other matters. A secondary concern is that deciding in favor of Hobby Lobby necessitates that the court either open the door to ALL religious objections to all laws OR it must pick and choose among the cults and faiths (thereby placing themselves squarely in violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.)
If Hobby Lobby prevails, then it is not (by any means) a stretch to say that we could see a long series of judicial "reversals" which would have the potential to resurrect the Freemont Christian School's argument...with a corresponding harm to women, everywhere, in the United States.