Hobby Lobby, Health Care, and Choice One libertarian response to the SCOTUS decision13 min read
The SCOTUS riled up feminists this week with its decision to uphold the religious beliefs of Hobby Lobby allowing them to continue to pay for only certain contraceptive methods. Feminists are decrying the decision asserting that the SCOTUS has weighed the religious rights of a few over the rights of all women regardless of religious belief. According to Elizabeth Warren, the SCOTUS decision means that corporations can refuse “access to basic medical tests, treatments and prescriptions that they need based on vague moral objections.” But is this in fact what the SCOTUS decided? Even a cursory reading of the case reveals that both sides are blowing this decision way out of proportion. The left is calling it a defeat for women’s rights and the right is calling it a win for religious liberty, but neither is true.
First things first – what did the SCOTUS decision actually say?
Let’s begin with some clarification about exactly what was decided. According to the case document provided by the SCOTUS website, the decision was based on upholding a religious freedom law that was signed by President Clinton in 1993, that allows businesses to refuse to pay for abortion and abortifacients based on religious belief. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created a requirement that combined contraception and abortifacients under one umbrella and violates the current law by forcing employers to pay for 4 abortifacients in addition to the 16 forms of contraception protected by the 1993 law. The SCOTUS decision only upholds the 1993 law which specifically singles out abortifacients, not contraception – or other medical tests, procedures, etc.
Hobby Lobby is still required to, and not fighting against, the requirement to pay for contraception to its female employees. In fact, of the 20 required by the ACA, Hobby Lobby is still paying for 16 of them which includes birth control pills, barrier methods, sterilization and more. The only thing that Hobby Lobby will not be required to pay for are morning after pills and IUDs. That’s it! These two methods are known abortifacients by the FDA and Hobby Lobby is protected by current law. This isn’t new! There is no new precedent set.
But what about women who want to get the morning after pill or IUDs? They are covered by the government. So what this comes down to is “who’s buyin’?” The corporation is footing the bill for 16 forms of contraception, and the tax payer (which encompasses Christians) are footing the bill for the other 4.
A concession, for the sake of argument.
Let me just concede, for a moment, the logic presented by the left about this decision. Basically, the argument is that women have a right to abortion, and employers can either block or grant access to that right by their willingness to pay for abortion. An employer is giving the woman “access” to her right to abort by paying for abortion-inducing medicine or the abortion procedure itself, and an employer is “blocking” a women from her right to abort by refusing to pay for the medicine and/or procedure and that doing so on moral grounds is no excuse.
Following this logic then, since we also have the right to own firearms, then we must also demand that employers pay for at least four types of firearms for every one of its employees in order to have “access” to our 2nd amendment rights. (If you’re liberal, you’re rolling your eyes into the back of your head right now.) After all, an employer can single-handedly give or block access to our rights with their willingness to buy that access for us, right? But of course, liberal business owners out there would have a moral objection to that, and would fight it tooth and nail, as well they should.
And if you don’t think that’s a fair parallel consider this, the abortion debate is an argument about access to tools that have the potential to cause harm to another human being and end life. The gun control debate is an argument about access to tools that have the potential to cause harm to another human being and end life. In both cases, proponents argue that these tools can be used responsibly and that the misuse of these tools by a small percentage of the population is no reason to revoke the entire right for everyone. So really, it’s a nearly identical parallel.
Of course, demanding that employers purchase firearms for all of its employees just to have “access” to one’s 2nd amendment rights is absurd. It’s extreme, and no one should be forced to purchase anything they have a moral objection to, right?
Strawmen: A politicians BFF in an election year.
So what the heck is Elizabeth Warren talking about? The SCOTUS didn’t say anything about corporations having the right to refuse “access to basic medical tests, treatments and prescriptions that they need based on vague moral objections.” What this is, is a classic strawman argument where one side misrepresents the opposing argument in order to make it easier to knock down. A better idea for Americans is to step back and look at what politicians are doing in an election year, and this is an election year. The headlines lately have been talking about how the American public is upset with not only the ACA, but the IRS, unending wars, NSA spying, etc. Congress has a 7% approval rating, the lowest … ever!
Should it then be any surprise that all these liberals are telling women to vote Democrat in the midterms because the evil Republicans want to throw us into an alternative dystopian universe and throw away the key? Do Democrats really think so lowly of the mind of women to presume that all we’re concerned about is a single right? In all seriousness though, both parties have done their fair share of raping individual liberty for everyone, not just women, and certainly feeding the false left/right paradigm won’t solve the problem. But waking up to the reality that both parties have screwed us, is the first step.
The libertarian solution.
First, no one has to pay for something they have a moral objection to … ever!! Health insurance, shouldn’t be the only way we can pay for health care. Health savings accounts, health care sharing, and even doctors who take cash only are all anti-insurance methods that not only promote individual choice in health care, but they also drive down costs. Health insurance companies have driven the cost up, and making policy around a failing system is no way to solve the problem, in fact, it just confounds the problem. Health care should not be tied to employment, nor should it be tied to the government. If pro-choice means that medical decisions should be left between the woman and her doctor, then why are we inviting employers, insurance agents, and government bureaucrats into the waiting room where they get to have a say in how our decision is paid for, if at all?
If there is one example that can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that government-run health care in America is nightmare, it’s the Veteran’s Administration and the horrible treatment that vets get. The ACA is one solution to our problem – it is not the only solution, nor is it the best solution. We shouldn’t settle for it just “because the Republicans haven’t offered a better solution.” (and they won’t, either). The solution is in the market, by opening up competition for insurance agencies who have effectively monopolized health care, we can bring down the cost of health care, destroy their monopoly, and truly leave medical decision between all individuals and their doctor.
Is this a win for religious liberty?
Not really, as the status quo has not changed. This law only applies to a fraction of suits challenging the ACA on religious grounds. It’s not a win for individual Christians who still have to finance abortion through tax dollars. As said earlier, this changes nothing. Christians aren’t let off the hook for participating in the ACA, and Hobby Lobby hasn’t introduced a new policy with this decision. This has been a long standing policy that it’s employees agreed to when they were hired.
A response to George Takei
George Takei (whom I’ve liked on Facebook because he’s a genuinely funny man and free spirit) asked the question, “[would this case] have come out differently if a Muslim-run chain business attempted to impose Sharia law on its employees?” It’s a valid question and I can only answer from a libertarian perspective (because I can imagine the Republican answer would be an equally ridiculous polemic). If a person walks into a business to apply for a job and notices that owners openly practice a religion that this person is offended by, then they should turn around and walk away. If said person is already working at a business and the owners suddenly adopt a new openly religious stance that the person is offended by, and refuses to participate, they should quit. That may seem harsh, but if a business’ policy is too offensive to the people it employs, then it would be death for the company for its employees to resign, and a warning for any business who wants to use their position to strong arm their employees.
If you want businesses to understand that they cannot push their religious values on others, and a wide variety of its employees feel negatively effected by it, then quit, and the employer won’t have the resources to keep his business afloat. If a Christian lost this hypothetical lawsuit to a Muslim-run chain business attempting to impose Sharia law, then they should quit, and let the business owners feel the pain of the market, just as Mr. Takei is advocating for a boycott of Hobby Lobby and like-minded businesses. If this is truly a travesty, then the market will speak. Takei also pointed out that Hobby Lobby invests in pharmaceutical stock that makes the very same abortifacients that it opposes. If this is true, well George, I stand with you on that one, it’s hypocritical for sure, but it doesn’t change the fact that we shouldn’t be coerced into buying something we have a moral objection to. Would it be right to force everyone to purchase firearms just because a California Senator and staunch gun control advocate was caught illegally trafficking firearms? Of course not. The solution to hypocrisy is not to make hypocrites out of everyone, but to call hypocrites to carpet.
Final words …
Stop freaking out about the SCOTUS decision. Are Justices bought out by big corporations? Yup! (Wondering where you were when they upheld the ACA. You don’t think big insurance companies weren’t involved with that one?) The point is that women’s access to abortion is not at risk, not even in the slightest, and this wasn’t even a win for religious liberty; it’s maintaining the status quo. This decision effected only a relative handful of corporations, there are still hundreds of challenges to the ACA on the grounds of religious liberty that have nothing to do with this case. Stop listening the politicians, you are only enabling their polemic which is a distraction from the real problems we face.
The sky is not falling!
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