Monday, June 30, 2014

BYOBC: These are not the battles you're looking for

I'm not going to go into any great depth about the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision today, since the topic has been beaten to death, but I do want to offer a few words.

My antipathy toward the conservative social agenda, as well as organized religion and the silliness of doing anything "for religious reasons," is old news to most people who know me. Conservatives have had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century on the social front, and much of the reason for that is due to the influence of religion, which--particularly for the Christian majority--gets a lot of unearned privilege and consideration within the law, and within society, in many instances that it shouldn't. Today's decision is not one of those instances.

It is my firm belief that in today's SCOTUS ruling, rights were protected, not denied. Nobody will be denied access to birth control based upon today's decision. Everyone will still have exactly the same access to birth control as they did yesterday. And just like yesterday, they will have to procure it themselves, just as they do with any other product, commodity, or service. The only thing today's ruling says is that Hobby Lobby, as well as any other employer, does not have to pay for it for you. That's it. Not compelling your employer to pay for your birth control does not equate to your being denied access to birth control, anymore than not compelling them to pay for your cable denies you access to HBO.

Do I think that it's silly of Hobby Lobby to refuse to cover it, when the cost is infinitesimal as compared to most other medical services? Of course. As I mentioned above, I think religious reasons are about the dumbest reason for doing (or not doing) anything. But when it comes to the government compelling an individual or business to purchase anything, I believe that that is wrong on principle, and the objections of the party being compelled, no matter how ridiculous or objectionable, are irrelevant. (As such, obviously, I also object to Obamacare's individual mandate.)

People who are upset about today's SCOTUS ruling are missing the far more egregious facets of this issue that they should be upset about instead. Namely, the fact that employers are involved in providing health insurance at all (thus your benefits under a particular policy are tied to that employer--this is a relic of WWII that should be done away with), and the fact that several forms of birth control, including the pill, are still prescription only when they should be available over the counter. The Obama administration had the opportunity to address these glaring issues, as well as others, with Obamacare, but failed to do so.

There are many battles that need to be fought with regard to the American health care system, the reproductive rights of women under the law, and the legal protections and exemptions afforded to organized religion in the US, but this was not one of them. If anything, it was a distraction from discussions that need to be had about more important things.

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