By Kathi Bliss
Since the news of the Supreme Court’s “Hobby Lobby decision” broke on Monday morning, I have been trying very hard to figure out what all the fuss is about. I’ve been watching opponents of the decision – including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who wrote a scathing dissent to the majority decision – run around in circles arguing about how wrong the majority decision is, and I’m honestly not quite sure why everyone is so bothered.
Before you start screaming “War on Women!” at me, please remember that I AM a woman. I’m an unmarried, educated woman, who enjoys a degree of professional success and personal happiness, and I am a woman that has worked very hard to make those things happen for myself – aided considerably by a supportive family and employers and mentors who have guided me and taken chances on me when I thought I didn’t deserve those chances; I’d be lying if I didn’t attribute some of my life to a little bit of luck.
Therefore, the last thing in the world I support is any kind of “War on Women,” or any action that will keep other women from enjoying the education, success and lifestyle that I’m so fortunate to have achieved.
So, please put away your tar and feathers. I absolutely support “reproductive rights.” But I’m also a big advocate of reproductive responsibility.
The Hobby Lobby decision is actually pretty specific, and relates ONLY to four of the 16 forms of contraception mandated by the Department of Health and Human Services under the Affordable Care Act. That’s it. That’s all. The decision exempts “closely held companies” (in which fewer than five people hold upwards of 50 percent of control) from providing health care coverage for ONLY THOSE FOUR means of contraception, if that refusal is based on a genuine, religious objection to those four forms of contraception.
It still leaves the door open for the other 16 mandated forms of birth control. More than that, two of those four exempted forms are available over the counter, and can be purchased on Amazon.com.
When push comes to shove, no one is trying to “deny women access to health care.”
The second big argument I’ve heard and seen is that this decision opens the door to allow, say, Jehovah’s Witnesses to deny coverage for blood transfusions. No, it doesn’t. In fact, in order to make sure that someone can’t come back later and say, “well, we don’t know if the Justices had that in mind,” the decision spells out, in plain English, that that WASN’T the intent. It says it, right there, on the third page of the syllabus. The Justices made their intent VERY clear, and not subject to any sort of broad interpretation.
The key issue to me, though, is going back to this idea of “reproductive rights,” and the idea that this decision allows employers to come between their employees and their doctors. It also points directly at the things that are broken in our health care system, the things which ACA never addressed in the first place.
Here again, we have gotten caught up in the problem of semantics. Here again, we’re staring at an argument based on what seems to be the belief that “health care” and “health care coverage” are the same thing. I wish that someone would put that notion to rest, once and for all… Because health insurance is not the same thing as health care.
“Health care” suggests doctor’s visit, medications and medical procedures.
“Health care coverage” is about who is going to pay for those doctors, medications and procedures.
To me, this Hobby Lobby argument was never about the medications or the procedures themselves. It was ALWAYS about who was footing the bill. And when you boil it right down to brass tacks, no one has any right to ask someone to pay for something that flies in the face of their core, religious beliefs.
So, yes. In my mind, the five Justices who formed the majority decision were spot on. If Hobby Lobby were saying, “Ms. Employee, if you want to use an abortifacient as birth control, we’re going to fire you,” I would be the first one standing in line to say, “No, Hobby Lobby. You can’t do that!”
They’re not. They’re saying, “Abortifacients fly in the face of our core religious beliefs, and therefore, we don’t want to be forced to pay for them.” That, I can support. That, to me, doesn’t in any way get between a woman and her doctor, and it doesn’t in any way interfere with a woman’s reproductive rights. It simply forces the idea of “reproductive responsibility,” and says, “If you want to use these forms of birth control, you’re going to have to pay for them on your own.”
And honestly, I just don’t see anything wrong with that.
After all, if we, as women, are going to stand up and say we don’t want the government, our doctors, or anyone else to interfere with what we may or may not do with our bodies, should we not also stand up and say we are willing to take the financial responsibility for our decisions? Can we honestly say “This is my body, these are my choices,” and expect someone else to foot the bill for those choices?
As we celebrate this weekend, and the freedoms and rights that we are so blessed to enjoy, let’s also remember that those freedoms and rights are not free – someone has paid for them, either in blood, in sweat or with cash. And let’s remember that because we enjoy those freedoms and rights, we are obligated to do our share to protect them.