Tuesday, July 01, 2014

80% Free Isn't Free Enough (More on the Hobby Lobby Court Decision)

In the fall out from the Hobby Lobby decision yesterday, some have argued that HL's insurance plans offer 16 of 20 possible contraceptive options; they only are denying plans that cover so-called abortifacients (such as the "morning after pill) because, in the view of Christianity held by the owners of Hobby Lobby, full human-life begins at conception.

But that is irrelevant. For Hobby Lobby owners to passionately hold a philosophical view is their right; it is not their right to enforce that view on anyone, not even their employees. If medical therapies are legal, then it should not be in the employer's power to make health care decisions for individuals.

The HL family is apparently evangelical in their beliefs; but if they were Christian Scientist, would they have the right to deny any insurance to anyone because they passionately disbelieved in the efficacy of "materia medica" for "true" healing? If they were Jehovah's Witnesses, who passionately and honestly oppose blood transfusions, would they be allowed to prevent employees from choosing them? If they were Scientologists who diagree with psychiatry, could they prevent people from taking medication that might control an anxiety disorder? You see, it doesn't matter if you agree with HL's view about birth control; the precedent has now been established that one's religious beliefs can trump someone else's personal freedom to choose, and that opens the door to religion being used in ways that you might later not find agreeable.

See, the issue isn't whether any of us share the HL family's faith (and as a pro-choice Christian, I do not); the issue is that as a corporation, the HL BUSINESS does not have religious liberties (though, according to the court which has established the personhood of corporations, I seem to be mistaken). Religious freedoms are afforded to individuals and to churches (or other religious bodies, e.g., temples, synagogues, etc.), and the beliefs of the HL owners are interfering with the rights of individuals to make their own health care choices. Someone who doesn't hold the HL's belief (aka opinion) should not be denied their freedom to choose for themselves.

So, the Hobby Lobbyists (a good phrase for a variety of reasons) are entitled to their beliefs, but they have now persuaded five MEN on the nation's highest court to give them the power over their female workers' bodies. They now have the ability to say of 20 options available, you may choose one of 16 regardless of what YOUR values, opinions, beliefs, or perceived needs are and regardless of what your medical practitioner believes is in your best interest. They have said 80% freedom is free enough, and I disagree.

This isn't about how devout the owners are; this is about the wage earner being denied legal choices. The worker must now sacrifice sovereignty over her own body to comply with someone else's values, and that is neither moral nor just.

Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
Sunshine Cathedral
Senior Minister

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