Hobby Lobby: The “Gift” That Keeps On Giving

When the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision came down in June, those of us who opposed the ruling warned that it created a terrifyingly slippery slope that could allow employers to refuse to cover not only a variety of birth control methods, but possibly other types of health care that might violate the religious sensibilities of corporate “persons.”

In July, the New York Times argued that the concept of corporate “personhood” has been dangerously expanded since its original formulation in the 19th century, and that the consequences could be dire:

While the Hobby Lobby decision ostensibly addresses only a narrow set of circumstances — a corporation with relatively few owners, a religious objection to particular kinds of birth control — these sorts of limited rulings have a history of becoming more broadly cited as precedent over time. […] Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued in her dissenting opinion that a corporation might object on religious grounds to paying for blood transfusions, vaccinations or antidepressants.

Defenders of the Hobby Lobby decision essentially told us (and Justice Ginsburg) to calm our “hysterics.” It’s a very narrow decision, they said. It applies only to very few birth control methods, they said. At least 99% of female employees won’t even be affected, they said.  Just get over it, girls.

Well, only two months later, it seems that numerous insurers are already charging ahead with attempts to further limit women’s access to reproductive care.

On paper, the Affordable Care Act still requires health plans to cover the full range of birth control methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration, without any cost-sharing by women. In other words, it is illegal to charge women extra “fees” for their reproductive health care.

In practice, however, employers and insurers are busy pushing that envelope. Most of these new initiatives are patently illegal, but what options do women employees have? They can protest, and risk being fired. They can go to court, with all the time, effort, and money required to mount an effective lawsuit. Or they can just shut up and allow their own health needs, civil rights and freedom of conscience to be brushed aside in order to insure religious freedom for some other, corporate “person.”

It will be interesting to see just how far unscrupulous employers and insurers will be allowed to go before they find themselves back in front of the Supreme Court. And how much of this nonsense American women will be willing to stand before they stand up en masse and shout, “Enough!”

UPDATE (23 August 3:50 p.m.)

Bowing to continuing pressure from religious conservatives, President Obama yesterday proposed new rules allowing certain non-profits and private companies to inform the Department of Health and Human Services directly of their objections to covering contraceptive services.  The government will then contact the employer’s insurance company and instruct them to provide coverage at no cost to the employer.  Which means, presumably, that the costs will be passed on to employees through their insurance premiums, or to the U.S. taxpayer.

But even that may not be enough for the religious right.  Mark Rienzi of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has suggested that further litigation may be forthcoming.  Apparently they won’t be content until contraceptive coverage is completely severed from employee insurance plans, forcing women to buy their own reproductive health services out-of-pocket.

ProWayne Forum Admin
This post was written by

2 Comments on "Hobby Lobby: The “Gift” That Keeps On Giving"

  • MahoningVal says

    The GOP and the religious right are going to use the same strategy as they’ve used to fight abortion rights — they’re going to chip away relentlessly at the contraception mandate via dozens of lawsuits, before sympathetic judges, until they can narrow approved birth control options provided down to just a very few, or widen the acceptable excuses for a company not to provide it, to include all sorts of “moral beliefs”, that we’ll be left with just a shadow of the original mandate itself. Aspirin between the knees, ladies?

  • uncle pepper says

    Good one Val. I will buy stock from the aspirin Corp person, l might get rich…

Leave a Reply