Posts tagged "Birth Control"

71 companies, including Highland-based Korte and Luitjohan, Mokena, Illinois-based Ozinga Bros. Concrete, and Carol Stream-based Tyndale House Publishers are also behind these Hobby Lobby-esque monstrosities in denying birth control and contraception. 
If SCOTUS rules in HL’s favor, it’ll be a very scary day in America. 

h/t: Jaeah Lee at Mother Jones

h/t: Molly Redden at Mother Jones

H/T: Tim from LA at PoliticusUSA

It has barely been a month since Arizona’s “practice or observance of religion” legislation giving any person or group the “ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief” was vetoed by the governor who helped write the legislation. Arizona evangelicals were incensed their attempt to expand religious liberty to mean religious freedom to impose Christianity on any Arizonan or disregard any state or federal law failed, but little did they know that within a month of defeat the Supreme Court would decide whether or not to make the failed Arizona legislation the constitutional law of the land in a federal “practice or observance of religion” case. The so-called Hobby Lobby case will allegedly answer whether or not a private secular corporation is a religious person that can disregard federal law and impose its religion on female employees, and like Arizona’s failed “religious liberty” legislation, a decision for Hobby Lobby will be a national religious tyranny license with far-reaching implications.

It did not take more than a quick perusal of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties counsel’s arguments before the High Court demanding religious liberty to disregard a federal law to understand that there is much more to the case than meets the eye. It was the claim by Hobby Lobby that its religious belief determined that certain forms of birth control such as Plan B and IUDs induce abortion that goes against the corporation’s religious belief. The attorney for the government explained that none of these contraceptives aborts a pregnancy, but only prevents implantation in the uterine lining that is the definition of pregnancy; therefore the contraceptives could not possibly induce abortion.

The response from Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties came in the form of an amicus brief by former Democratic Senator Bart Stupac who wrote that “this doesn’t matter because although the government has made statements that terminating a fertilized embryo before it implants in the uterus is not an abortion, the relevant matter for claim of conscience is plaintiffs’ belief that a distinct human life begins at fertilization. It is no salve to be told that the government defines abortion differently.” However, it is not the government’s definition of abortion; it is humanreproductive biology that dictates there is no pregnancy until a blastocyst (when the embryo is a hollow sphere) implants in the uterine lining in the womb. A blastocyst is the second stage after a sperm cell punctures an ovum (fertilization) and becomes a single-celled zygote that is physically unable to implant in the uterine wall and likely sloughed off. Therefore, a zygote cannot be a living human being according to biological reality and Hobby Lobby’s Christian bible according to its god almighty.

It is the idea that Hobby Lobby’s religious “belief” is not supported by its own bible or biological reality that makes a favorable ruling tantamount to enacting Arizona’s “religious observance” legislation the law of the land.  The Arizonalegislation granted any individual or group freedom in the “practice or observance of religion the ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.” If the Court rules for Hobby Lobby, then it acknowledges the corporation’s religious belief that human life begins at fertilization and sets a very dangerous precedent redefining pregnancy, making personhood the law of the land, and redefines abortion, miscarriage, and contraception as homicide; something the pro-life movement lusted after for decades. It also allows anyone to “act or refuse to act” if they claim they are motivated by “religious observance;” even if it is not “compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief” such as Hobby Lobby’s ridiculous assertion that “human life begins at fertilization.”

Despite the High Court is ruling regarding a corporation’s religious liberty, once the precedent is set in stone any small business owned by a racist can claim religious liberty to refuse to serve people of color, a homophobic owner can refuse to serve or hire gays, and any hardline evangelical can refuse to hire Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans, Catholics, or women by claiming their religion forbids women working outside the home. In fact, there are no anti-discrimination or civil right laws that cannot be disregarded if anyone claims adhering to them violates their religious beliefs whether or not those beliefs are part of a religion. The real danger is the myriad edicts that are firmly rooted in the Christian bible anyone claiming religious freedom or conscience violation will be allowed to act upon regardless state or federal laws.

A ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby et al will adversely affect women first and it is game over for women’s reproductive rights because every Republican-controlled state will enact bans on abortion and contraception based on the idea that life begins at fertilization. As an aside, it was not until Republican man-god Ronald Reagan granted the Jerry Falwell, Paul Weyrich, and Francis Schaeffer “moral majority” political power that the idea a fetus is a living human being became mainstream. In fact, prior to 1982 the official position of the Southern Baptist Convention and Protestant evangelicals was that “god does not regard the fetus as a soul no matter how far gestation has progressed,” and that the “method of preventing pregnancy (including induced abortion) is not so much a religious as a scientific and medical question to be determined in consultation with one’s physician.” One wonders how much America’s women love Ronald Reagan now.

The religious right has panted for a “religious liberty” ruling abolishing the First Amendment’s “free exercise clause” in their behalf since 1982 to restrict other Americans from their right to religious freedom and they will not stop at dominating women. Although there was no mention of gays in Arizona’s “practice or observance of religion” legislation, it is believed that legally discriminating against gays was a major goal of the failed legislation.  A ruling for Hobby Lobby will set the precedent for any business or individual to discriminate against anyone as long as they claim it is part and parcel of their religious belief system, and one might be hopeful uber-conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will join liberals on the bench and repeat his opinion to Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties their claim of corporate religious liberty is “an exaggerated view of religious freedom that serves to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.” However, the High Court is ruling for a corporation and there is little doubt the conservatives will follow their Citizens United decision and come down on the side of the secular for-profit corporations regardless the absurd assertion they pray, worship, and demand religious freedom to become a law unto themselves.

If Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby goes HL’s way, it’ll set off a scary precedent. 

h/t: Rmuse at PoliticusUSA

Right-wing media have been Hobby Lobby’s biggest fans in the Supreme Court showdown between the federal government and the company over the health care law’s contraception coverage mandate, championing Hobby Lobby as only interested in protecting its religious liberties. But according to new documents obtained by Salon, the company is an active partner to activist groups pushing their Christian agenda into American law. 

This week the Supreme Court took on the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate, hearing arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, a case which could allow secular, for-profit corporations an unprecedented religious exemption from the requirement that all health insurance cover preventive services like birth control. The conservative plaintiff, Hobby Lobby, is arguing that some emergency contraceptives covered by the mandate amount to abortion — even though they don’t.

In the process, Hobby Lobby has become a darling of right-wing media, who have championed its cause and framed the company as a family-owned, Christian, small business victimized by the ACA.

Over at National Review, editor Rich Lowry framed the Green family — Hobby Lobby’s owners — as “law-abiding people running an arts-and-craft-chain,” “minding their own business,” until “Uncle Sam showed up to make an offer that the Greens couldn’t refuse — literally.” Jonah Goldberg, in an op-ed in USA Today, claimed that all Hobby Lobby is asking is to leave birth control decisions up to women and their doctors.

The conservative media sphere has repeatedly characterized Hobby Lobby as merely seeking “religious freedom.” As Fox News host Eric Bolling described the case, ”your religious freedom, guaranteed to you by the constitution, hangs in the balance.” He added that the mandate “feels like political ideology trumping small business.” The network has even given Hobby Lobby’s attorney the platform to champion the company’s small town virtues.

It turns out that the company right-wing media have worked so hard to champion has a significant hidden political agenda. On March 27 Salon broke the story that it had obtained a document revealing Hobby Lobby’s political funding ties to a network of activist groups “deeply engaged in pushing a Christian agenda into American law.”

According to Salon, a 2009 Tax Filing Form revealed that Crafts Etc., a Hobby Lobby affiliate company, and Jon Cargill, the CFO of Hobby Lobby, contributed a total of nearly $65 million in 2009 alone to the National Christian Charitable Foundation — one of the biggest contributors to the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Center for Arizona Policy.

These organizations pushed SB 1062 — the anti-gay legislation recently vetoed by AZ Governor Jan Brewer — to the AZ Statehouse, and their agendas include many other discriminatory and dangerous policies including legislation that forces women to have invasive ultrasounds before abortions.

The National Christian Charitable Foundation also contributed over $90,000 in 2012 to the Becket Fund, the legal group representing Hobby Lobby in its current Supreme Court battle over Obamacare’s contraception mandate. As Salon explained the relationship:

Seen in this light, the ideological connection between the Hobby Lobby suit and Arizona’s recently vetoed legislation becomes clearer: One seeks to allow companies the right to deny contraceptive coverage while the other would permit businesses to deny services to LGBT people. “There are really close legal connections between [Arizona’s anti-gay SB 1062 bill] and the [Hobby Lobby] Supreme Court case,” Emily Martin, vice president and general counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, told Salon. “Ideologically, the thing that unites the two efforts is an attempt to use religious exercise as a sword to impose religious belief on others, even if it harms others, which would be a radical expansion of free exercise law,” said Martin.

And the common thread is the much bigger trend across the country. “Individuals and entities with religious objections to certain laws that protect others are seeking to use their religion to trump others,” Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project, told Salon.

h/t: Olivia Kittel & Michelle Leung at MMFA

h/t: Seth D. Michaels at TPM 


On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments from two for-profit companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialities, which are fighting for the right to withhold insurance coverage for contraception, saying that it conflicts with their religious beliefs. They argue they should be exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that birth control be covered by health insurance — although depending on how the justices rule, companies could be allowed to deny any type of health service based on a religious objection.

But access to contraception has drastically improved the economy and helped businesses themselves. Without it, millions fewer women would be in our workforce.

In an influential study, Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz showed that access to the pill encouraged women to invest in education and training without the fear of having to interrupt them due to unwanted pregnancy. That allowed them to pursue careers. “Because up-front, time-intensive career investments are difficult for women with child care responsibilities, the pill encouraged women’s careers by virtually eliminating the risk of pregnancy,” they write. It also changed the marriage market by decoupling sex and marriage and therefore lowing the cost of delaying marriage, which made career women more attractive mates.

The numbers are striking. Access to the pill accounted for more than 30 percent in the increase of women holding jobs in skilled professions between 1970 and 1990. It also significantly increased how much time women were able to spend working: the pill accounted for at least 15 percent of the increase in hours worked for women between 16 and 30 in the same time frame, and women who were directly affected by the increase in access after the 1965 Griswold v Connecticut case worked about two to three weeks more per year compared to those who couldn’t get it.

These changes swelled the workforce: In 1950, just 18 million were working, but by the 1980s, after using contraception had become normalized, 60 percentof women of reproductive age were employed. This coincided with a falling birthrate, which dropped from 118 births per 1,000 women in the 1950s to 68 per 1,000 in the 1980s, a fall of almost 75 percent.

That has had a big effect on businesses, which now have a pool of workers with triple the number of women in it from which they can hire. And the economy has benefitted enormously — it would be 25 percent smaller if women hadn’t entered in the workforce in such great numbers.

But contraception costs money, particularly without insurance coverage. A third of women say they have struggled to afford birth control at some point, which rises to 55 percent for younger women. Little wonder when it can cost more than $1,000 a year. Under the Affordable Care Act, however, insurance will have to cover it without requiring a co-pay. But if Hobby Lobby gets its way, the women among its 14,000-person workforce may struggle to afford it. That could have serious ramifications for their ability to show up to work.

Covering contraception benefits businesses in another key way: it’s cheaper. Covering prescription contraception in employee health benefits can save money given the high costs of pregnancy and childbirth. The National Business Group on Health estimates failing to cover it can cost an employer 15 to 17 percent more.

Source: Bryce Covert for ThinkProgress

h/t: Dr. Tania Basu at RH Reality Check


As I said before, if the ruling at SCOTUS goes Hobby Lobby's way in June (most likely the final week or the 30th), it'll be a scary preposition for America.

h/t: Rev. Harry Knox and Jill C. Morrison at HuffPost Religion

The ruling will be a very close one either way come June. Hopefully, SCOTUS sides with Sebelius. 

h/t: Ryan J. Reilly and Laura Bassett at HuffPost Politics

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW 


How I see the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby case going when the case gets decided in June: 

5-4, in favor of Sebelius, although it could go either way.

Image Credit: Planned Parenthood Action’s Facebook Page. [ ppaction ]

I proudly stand with the women who use birth control, NOT Hobby Lobby.

The questions sound absurd: is a for-profit corporation a person with religious beliefs? Should the religious beliefs of your employer dictate what kind of medical care you get? 

Yet these are the questions before the Supreme Court this week, and given where some of the justices stand – that a corporation is a person (see: Citizens United), that a woman’s reproductive choices are up for debate (see: the “partial-birth” abortion ruling) – there may be many more absurdities across America after Tuesday’s oral arguments on Obamacare’s contraception mandate.

There’s a real chance that the court could buy the most absurd argument of all: that a company, owned by a person who believes that some forms of contraception are morally wrong, can refuse to comply with federal law – and can refuse to provide comprehensive insurance coverage to employees. If the justices side with Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood – a chain craft store and a furniture maker, both owned by men who oppose some forms of birth control – then you can prepare for a chain reaction of discrimination.

Those of us who care about women’s equality, workers’ rights and legal protections for minority groups – there are a lot of us – are nervous. So I called up Sandra Fluke, the reproductive justice activist who is nowrunning for state legislature in California, for a preview.

“Not only does this case potentially undermine the protections for affordable insurance coverage for contraception, but it could undermine a whole host of protections against discrimination – race, sexual orientation, gender,” Fluke told me late last week. “We’ve seen people step forward and say it: ‘I shouldn’t have to pay men and women equal wages because of my religion. I shouldn’t have to serve LGBT folks.’”

This week’s cases are about contraception. But as Fluke points out, the issues will go far beyond corporate personhood, insurance requirements and the healthcare law – no small topics of debate themselves. The justices are now prepared to set in stone the it’s-my-religion defense of wholesale discrimination, the groundwork for which has been set across the conservative spectrum for years.

“Right-wing groups pushing religious liberty at the expense of women’s health,” Fluke says, “use what should be a shield for one person’s individual personal beliefs – and a legal protection of those beliefs – to try to turn that into a sword to impose those values more broadly and undermine other peoples’ ability to make their own medical choices.”

Freedom of religion is carved into the Constitution, and the Affordable Care Act allows churches and other houses of worship a kind of out from the contraception mandate. What happens if that loophole gets undermined by for-profit companies? What happens if the Supreme Court opens up the law of the land to outright bigotry disguised as “freedom”?

We saw hints last month in the laboratories of democracy, where statehouse politicians introduced bills that claimed to protect religious liberty by allowing wide discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. In Kansas, a failed bill would have allowed owners of hotels, restaurants and other entities to refuse to serve or accommodate gay people. And we don’t have to talk about Arizona again, do we?

Some powerful religious people also believe that women should be in charge of the home and shouldn’t work for pay. Do we really want to open the door to the wholesale refusal to hire women – or the right to pay them less?

Religious beliefs around medicine vary widely, too: if a person believes HIV is God’s punishment or that HIV doesn’t cause Aids, should she have the right to refuse to buy insurance that covers HIV for her employees? If a company is owned by Jehovah’s Witnesses, does it not have to cover blood transfusions? If it’s owned by a Scientologist, can it exclude insurance coverage for mental health care?

Oh, and Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods have identified a handful of contraceptive methods that they say kill fertilized eggs. That’s probably not true, according to scientists. But the veracity of beliefs don’t matter very much at the Supreme Court – just that religious individuals sincerely hold them.

The same conservative hostility to women that underlies the contraception mandate cases rained down on Fluke when she testified before Congress about contraception access. For her efforts, Rush Limbaugh called her a slut two years ago. Her name remains attached to anti-Obamacare talking points – Sandra Fluke wants you to pay for her birth control is standard conservative blog fodder to this day.

Those attacks put Fluke on the map as a young advocate, and now on the road to office in those very same laboratories of democracy. From that vantage point, she’s heard from women all over the country who see how cases like Hobby Lobby are taking us backward.

“A lot of folks have said that they’re surprised we’re still fighting about this,” Fluke tells me. “They’re surprised that we’re still fighting battles they thought we had won.”

While Fluke says she’s less surprised at the ongoing birth-control battles, her position as an inadvertent contraception ambassador has made her realize just how fringe the anti-contraception arguments actually are – even if those making them are particularly loud, and even if the fringe ends up becoming a legal reality.

h/t: Jill Filipovic at The Guardian

The rabid anti-choice Dana Loesch attacks contraception and birth control yet again, in order to defend Hobby Lobby in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby. She also attacked Sandra Fluke for stating the truth about the company’s birth control policies and its impact should it go HL’s way.

Loesch got in her usual Fluke-bashing cheap shots in.

WRONG, Dana. Hobby Lobby IS denying contraception and birth control coverage as of 2012.

People For The American Way discusses the ramifications of the case:

If right-wing America had set out to design a Supreme Court case that combined all of its political fetishes, it could not have done better than to come up with Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Sebelius, a devilishly complex assault on Obamacare, women’s health care rights in the workplace, and the embattled idea that the Bill of Rights is for people, not corporations.  The outlandish claims of the company involved would not have a prayer except for Citizens United, the miracle gift of 2010 that just keeps giving. 
Hobby Lobby is a big business that wants to deny thousands of its female employees access to certain contraceptives, like Plan B and certain IUDs, which are supposed to be available to everyone under Obamacare but which the company says it finds theologically objectionable.  Ironically, Hobby Lobby’s private insurance plan fully funded these religiously incorrect forms of birth control for several years before the 2010 passage of the Patient Care and Affordable Care Act and the Department of Health and Human Services’ issuance of its “Preventive Services” Rule, which made coverage for them obligatory.  So it was the workings of Obamacare which apparently gave this business entity its corporate epiphany that these forms of birth control were sinful and the will to fight the contraceptives it had once been perfectly content to subsidize.  Amazingly, this challenge produced an off-the-rails decision by the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit that the company’s “religious” rights had been violated.

Business Corporations Have Never Had Religious Rights and the Idea Is AbsurdThe astounding nature of the decision becomes clear when we focus on the fact that Hobby Lobby is a regular business corporation, secular in its operations and devoted to profit-making purposes.  It is neither a church nor a religious organization.  It does not hire its workers based on religious preferences or practices.  Under the Affordable Care Act, if Hobby Lobby were a church or a non-profit religious organization that had as its purpose the promotion of religious values, and if it primarily employed and served people along religious lines, it would be considered a “religious employer” and it would be completely exempted from the contraceptive-coverage requirement.  Even if it did not meet those stringent criteria, the company could still be exempt under the law if it were a non-profit institution that objected to contraceptive coverage for religious reasons, as do certain religious institutions of higher education.
But Hobby Lobby is neither a “religious employer” nor a non-profit institution.  It is a standard for-profit business corporation.  That is why the case is of such surpassing importance.  It threatens to carry over Citizens United’s transformation of corporations into “persons” for political spending purposes into the realm of religious worship and free exercise, with dramatic implications.

Center For American Progress has the real facts about Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius:

Dangerous implications
A holding that for-profit corporations have religious beliefs could not only harm employee access to adequate health care, but could also legalize religious-based discrimination while trampling on employees’ religious freedom.
More health care exemptions
More than 50 percent of Americans receive health insurance from their employers, and the employer health insurance rules are a major piece of the Affordable Care Act legislation and key to its success. The Hobby Lobby case and other cases currently in federal court are an attempt by those who were against the Affordable Care Act to slowly chip away at it, and contraception is just the beginning. If for-profit corporations can claim a religious exemption for contraception, they could then refuse to offer other types of health care coverage all because it conflicts with the owners’ “faith.” Consider the following examples:
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in blood transfusions. A for-profit corporation owned by a devout Jehovah’s Witness could be able to refuse to cover blood transfusions for its employees.
  • Certain fundamentalist factions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are religiously opposed to the use of all vaccinations and could be exempt from covering vaccinations for their employees.
  • Christian Scientists eschew modern medicine entirely, believing instead in the healing power of prayer. A for-profit corporation owned by a Christian Scientist could decline to provide any health insurance based on these religious beliefs.
  • Scientologists are religiously opposed to psychiatry and drugs associated with psychiatry. A Scientologist owner of a for-profit corporation could use the corporation’s so-called “religious beliefs” to refuse coverage for psychiatric services for its employees.
  • Some evangelical Christians are opposed to the human papilloma virus, or HPV, vaccine, which prevents cervical cancer, because they believe the protection of the vaccine will increase promiscuity. A for-profit corporation owned by an evangelical Christian could request an exemption for his or her corporation, thus denying the corporation’s employees and their families’ access to the vaccine.

If the case goes Hobby Lobby’s way, it’ll be scary indeed. Yet another reason to boycott Hobby Lobby!

More on Loesch’s deliberate falsehoods on the war on women, attacks on [Democratic/liberal] women, birth control, and pro-choice viewpoints:

(cross-posted from