Analysis

Disappointment or deceit: Analyzing reactions to the Hobby Lobby decision

A Hobby Lobby store (photo credit: Fan of Retail on Flickr)

There have been strong reactions following what was perhaps the most eagerly awaited decision of this year’s Supreme Court term.

A 5-4 Court decided Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., ruling that closely held corporations do not have to provide abortifacients to their employees as part of their healthcare packages. Hobby Lobby already covers 16 of the 20 forms of FDA approved contraception, but it is against their religious beliefs to provide ones which can act to end a baby’s life after fertilization.

From the reactions we’ve seen to the Hobby Lobby decision, one would think we were on our way to overturning the right to obtain contraception, found in Griswold v. Connecticut.

This could not be further from the truth. Griswold is even referenced in the Hobby Lobby opinion:

Under our cases, women (and men) have a constitutional right to obtain contraceptives, see Griswold v. Connecticut…

And yet continued reactions come from Planned Parenthood and NARAL – including the executive director of NARAL’s Oregon branch. 

Elected politicians such as Senator Barbara Boxer and Senator Mark Udall are also chiming in.

Another source is an article from The New England Journal of Medicine. As LifeSiteNews points out, the NEJM “has published a shallowly reasoned, follow-the-liberal-advocacy-meme article bemoaning the limited and eminently reasonable Hobby Lobby decision.” The article demonstrates that the authors either did not read the decision, or disregarded it completely:

Finally, in the wake of Hobby Lobby, we may anticipate challenges to other medical services that some religions find objectionable, such as vaccinations, infertility treatments, blood transfusions, certain psychiatric treatments, and even hospice care. Hobby Lobby‘s implications may also extend into civil rights law, with employers asking to “opt out” of laws intended to protect people from employment and housing discrimination based on religion, race, sex, national origin, or pregnancy status.

As one can see from reading the actual decision in Hobby Lobby, such concerns are indeed addressed, and even mentioned from the start:

This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to hold that all insurance coverage mandates, e.g., for vaccinations or blood transfusions, must necessarily fall if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs. Nor does it provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination as a religious practice.

The Court understands that such decisions would need to be examined on a case-by-case basis, and thus, the “hysteria,” as Wesley J. Smith calls it, need not be there over this “slippery-slope.”

Perhaps one of the most egregious responses comes from another politician, Hillary Clinton, in a statement which was shared by Planned Parenthood Action’s Facebook page. The potential 2016 presidential candidate’s remarks reflect the assumptions and ignorance of dissenters.

Clinton claims that a woman’s “…employer[,]” meaning Hobby Lobby, “…doesn’t think she should be using contraception.” First of all, Hobby Lobby already provides most forms of contraception, and did so even before required to do so by the HHS Mandate.

But Clinton also wrongly suggests that those who have a religious objection to paying for birth control have a problem with others using it. The simple matter here is that they take issue, reasonably so, with having to be complicit in providing such drugs.

If the reality were as Clinton believes it to be, then we would have a much different situation on our hands. NARAL’s tagline of #NotMyBossBusiness might have some credibility. The only way birth control becomes the boss’ business is when he or she has to pay for it. Since this is the case, NARAL’s tagline falls apart on them.

One popular way to express negative reactions is through memes – like the one we see in Sen. Mark Udall’s Buzzfeed piece:

This meme completely ignores the idea of female bosses though, and fails to take their opinions into account. Isn’t that more discriminatory to women? Isn’t it more discriminatory to women to put them all in the same bubble, to assume that they all have the same thoughts on contraception – not just about using it, but also on who should pay for it?

Helen Alvaré of Women Speak for Themselves, thinks putting women in such a bubble is discriminatory, and offers a refreshing piece to address and correct the concerns of those dissenting, both on the bench and in the public square.

In a further move against Hobby Lobby, dissenting politicians made a political move, which has since been defeated.

Though Senator Harry Reid still has not allowed a vote on a House-approved bill to limit abortions past 20-weeks, he was more than eager to vote on a bill which would have overturned the Court’s decision.  As it turned out, the “Not My Boss’ Business Act,” was blocked from being put forward to a vote.

Many in the Democrat Party have misspoke about Hobby Lobby, often in an embarrassing manner, when they should know better.

The Washington Post, which says “we obviously take no position on the Supreme Court opinion[,]” offers a thoughtful piece on what has been said by Democrats with regards to the decision. With “Democrats on Hobby Lobby: ‘Misspeaks,’ ‘opinion’ and overheated rhetoric,”  The Post provides an example of an objective source pointing out that perhaps Democrats have taken their disappointment too far.

The piece analyzes statements made by various Democrats. Explanations range from issuing corrections and admitting mistakes, to claims that such comments are open to interpretation.

Perhaps the most embarrassing is Harry Reid’s comment that mentions, with emphasis added:

[t]he one thing we are going to do during this work period, sooner rather than later, is to ensure that women’s lives are not determined by virtue of five white men…

Such a mistake – as Justice Clarence Thomas is African-American –  was not only embarrassing, but easily avoidable. The mistake could have been further prevented by ignoring gender completely. Nancy Pelosi’s remarks were also addressed by The Post, when she said:

“Really, we should be afraid of this court.  The five guys who start determining what contraceptions are legal. Let’s not even go there.”

While there are no mistakes on race here, the Court in no way “determin[ed] what contraceptions are legal.” It is also far-reaching to not only misinterpret a court decision, but to claim “we should be afraid of…” those on the court.

And what is worth pointing out when it comes to gender is that the case which created a so-called right to abortion, was decided by all men too, as mentioned by Jonathon Van Maren for LifeSiteNews.com, with original emphasis:

The Supreme Court Justices voting in favor of Hobby Lobby were all male! Uh, so were the justices who legalized abortion—and I wasn’t aware that arguments had genitals?

Van Maren makes an amusing, but nevertheless true point as to why we need not consider the gender of those who make decisions.

While it is understandable for those who disagree with the Court’s decision on extending religious freedom to companies like Hobby Lobby – which is what this case was always about – to express their disappointment, there is a distinction between disappointment and deceit. And, as even objective sources – such as The Washington Post – would point out, perhaps those in power are taking their reactions too far.

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