-I’m going to have to start this with some very uncomfortable autobiographical material.
I’m not crazy about getting this personal. However, my experiences are germane to the topic at hand.
My mom had me when she was eighteen.
I forget if she was married before or after I was conceived so I am unclear if I was the reason for her early marriage or it’s result.
But the point is that my mom had me at an early age and she had my sister three years later. At an age when someone should be figuring out who they are and what they want from their lives, my mom had two children to take care of.
My dad was not a good father. He tried but he was too young, had too many issues from his own childhood and the pressure led him to drink.
And when he drank, he got mean.
And when I say mean, I mean he would yell, scream and threaten to kill us. He was contrite when he sobered up. But it never stopped him from drinking again.
Needless to say, I do not drink myself.
Finally, when I was twelve, my mom decided enough was enough and she filed for divorce and got custody. For which I was very grateful.
My High School years were tough enough. If dad had stayed in the household, I’m certain that it would have ended in murder, likely his.
Thankfully, we are both alive and we have pursued productive lives separate from each other.
And that’s how it should be.
-I’m not telling you this because I want your sympathy.
I don’t need it. I’m fine.
I’ve got a decent job, roof over my head and the time to pursue the things I love. Things could be better but given my present circumstances, I’m okay.
No, I’m telling you this to put into context why this Hobby Lobby decision is one of the worse things that could happen.
I’m glad my mom had me. And I am grateful for everything she did for me. And there is not a day where I don’t miss her terribly.
But I also suspect that Fort Bragg, California in the early sixties was not the most progressive area in the world and that family planning was not a concept that was all that common.
And the fact is if mom had access to those resources when she was younger, she could have avoided pregnancy and could have gotten out of the marriage faster when things started going South.
I think she would have had a happier life.
Having a child is the most…not one of the most, the most, important decisions that a woman can make in her lifetime. It will affect every aspect of her life, financially, emotionally, sexually. It is the decision that impacts every other decision.
It is making a contract that you are responsible for the creation of another human being and their development into a fully functioning adult
And there’s no guarantee that you will succeed. You could have all the money and resources in the world, send your kids to the best schools and still end up with Lyle and Erik Menendez.
When I say I am pro-choice, I am not saying that I am anti-child or even pro-abortion. I am saying that the person who is having or planning to have the child should make the final call. And nothing should interfere with that.
And this Hobby Lobby decisions does just that.
-Throughout this, I have heard conservatives herald this decision as a triumph for religious freedom.
To which I reply, who’s religious freedom?
The whole point of the contraception mandate was to make it easier for employees to have access to birth control through their work insurance to make family planning easier. Work insurance that the employees also pay into.
All the mandate did was make the insurance companies provide added value for the services that they normally provide. And in making the the case that the mandate violates their religious freedom, Hobby Lobby chose to disregard the religious beliefs (Or lack therein.) of their employees. (Via Ayesha Khan writing at SCOTUSBlog.)
The results are greatest when both financial and logistical barriers are removed. Making the most convenient forms of contraception – those requiring the least effort to maintain – available at no cost to young women resulted in a staggering eighty-percent drop in the pregnancy rate, leading researchers to predict that the ACA’s contraceptive-coverage regulations could “prevent[ ] as many as 41-71% of abortions performed annually in the United States.”
In light of this social-science data, the government rightly concluded that its goals could not be accomplished by relying on women’s ability to stroll down to their local pharmacy to purchase contraceptives on their own time and dime; rather, the government needed to eliminate not just financial, but logistical, barriers to contraceptive access – and it thus wisely relied on women’s existing healthcare plans and providers.
But none of that mattered to the Court. While the Court assumed for the sake of argument that the government’s interest here was compelling, four of the five members of the majority expressed reservations about whether that interest was indeed compelling. The majority concluded that the government had not satisfied RFRA’s “least restrictive means” requirement. The majority treated the accommodation the government provided to religious non-profits as a less-restrictive alternative, but at the same time four of the five Justices in the majority refused to confirm the legality of that exemption, even though it is challenged in numerous pending lawsuits. The majority also said that another less-restrictive alternative would be for the government to provide the contraceptive coverage itself, even though Justice Kennedy (the fifth Justice in the majority) seemed quite skeptical of this point, and even though forcing women to obtain contraceptives through a new governmental program separate from their insurance could serve as a formidable barrier to contraceptive access.
What Establishment Clause?
The purposes behind the regulations highlight yet another reason that Hobby Lobby’s argument should fail. As Justice Kagan observed during the oral argument, and as Justice Ginsburg recognized in her dissent, the Establishment Clause precludes the award of religious exemptions that override other significant interests (Cutter v. Wilkinson) or impose burdens on third parties (Estate of Thornton v. Caldor, Inc.). Yet these for-profit companies have been allowed to use their religion as a trump card to override the interests of literally thousands of female employees in receiving insurance coverage for contraceptives, and in turn, in participating equally in society.
The same disregard for those at the receiving end of dominant theology was present in Town of Greece, where the gang of five had little sympathy for religious minorities and nonbelievers who sought to participate in their local council meetings without being asked to stand or bow their heads in recognition of the divinity of Jesus Christ. I question whether these Justices would have ruled as they did if they were Jews barraged by yuletide cheer every holiday season.
There is always a balancing act between personal freedom and the needs of the community. I was against the ban on 64oz Sodas in New York because people should have the right to drink as much soda as possible. (Despite the fact that, holy crap, that’s eight cups of soda!) But I am all for laws regulating smoking in public places because of the dangers posed by second hand smoke. I don’t have the right to force you to not ingest large amounts of sugar water but I strongly object to breathing in toxic smoke that hurts my lungs. Drink your soda. But don’t force me to chug a forty of Mountain Dew.
-Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this case (And this decision is just filled to the motherfucking brim with troubling aspects.) is the way that scientific fact was trumped in this case.) Via Mother Jones.
The majority decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, held that if Hobby Lobby’s owners believe that the contraceptives at issue cause abortions, the mandate is a burden on their religious beliefs: “[W]e must decide whether the challenged…regulations substantially burden the exercise of religion, and we hold that they do,” Alito wrote. “The owners of the businesses have religious objections to abortion, and according to their religious beliefs the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients.” (Bold type mine, RJ)
Alito and the four other conservative justices on the court were essentially overruling not just an Obamacare regulation, but science. According to the Food and Drug Administration, all four of the contraceptive methods Hobby Lobby objects to—Plan B, Ella, and two intrauterine devices—do not prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus, which the owners of Hobby Lobby consider abortion. Instead, these methods prevent fertilization. (Bold type mine, RJ.)
Alito is basically saying that strongly held religious beliefs outweigh actual scientific fact. Well, I can see that precedent coming back and biting us on the ass one of these days.
“Your Honor. My client has already confessed to the murder of the twenty seven children but we seek a non guilty verdict based on the burden a conviction would place on the exercise of his religion. He is a Born Again Mayan Pentecostal and according to his religious beliefs, if he does not ritually sacrifice one child at the end of each lunar cycle, The Serpent God Jedediah will hatch from the moon and proceed to swallow The Earth whole.
Your Honor, with all due respect to the grieving families, I think we can all agree that to stave off the possibility of our entire planet being devoured by a giant serpent god is worth the lives of a few children. As a matter of fact, the end of this lunar cycle is this Friday and until this matter is settled, my client should be allowed to perform another sacrifice before we are all turned into serpent god fecal matter. I’ll be filing that brief with your clerk this afternoon.”
The bitch of it is that if you hate abortion, you should be cheering for this mandate. The more unwanted pregnancies that are stopped by access to proper birth control, the less abortions that occur. For Pro-Lifers and Pro-Choicer’s, it’s a win-win.
Except, The Right’s interest in this goes beyond abortions.
And this gets to the nub of where we are in this situation.
This is not about preventing abortions.
It is about control.
It is about saying “Sex is only for procreation. If there is any pleasure in it, it is a secondary concern.”
It is forcing people to abide by their concept of sexual morality.
There are two problems with that concept.
One: There are people in the world who simply do not wish to have children. Case in point, me!
I do not believe that I have either the resources or the proper emotional make-up to be a parent. I have had friends who disagree with me and say that they think I’d make a great father. I think they’re wrong and I am not prepared to roll the dice with a human life to see who has the stronger case.
The second problem with the concept is this.
Sex is awesome!
The kissing, the touching, the part at the end where it feels like your swimsuit area is exploding but in a good way.
(And let me quickly add that I am talking about consensual sex. Rape and forced prostitution does not even belong in this conversation.)
Sex is one of the best things in the world. And everyone should be free to enjoy it.
And yes, it would be ideal if teenagers waited until they were of age before they become sexually active. Unfortunately, Mother Nature and hormones make that difficult.
If I had a daughter, I would teach her to be strong enough to say no.
If I had a son, I would teach him to accept no as an answer.
But I would still accept the fact that the possibility of them saying yes exists and I would make sure they would have the proper information to protect themselves so the worst thing that comes from the encounter is the realization that maybe it was the wrong time.
I have heard it said by some people that if a teenage girl becomes pregnant, she should bear the child as a punishment from God.
I think by now, you know where I stand on that train of thought.
Show me a man who honestly believe that a teenager should be forced to carry a term a child she cannot handle, I’ll show you a son of a bitch with a canker on his heart.
-If an employer starts having a say in what kind of health care you can receive from a policy that you help pay into, what’s next? What if you use part of your paycheck to do something they object to? Like go to a strip club or buy a Blu-Ray of a movie that they find offensive?
It sounds far fetched but given this present SCOTUS’ penchant on delivering on worse case scenarios, I ain’t ruling it out.
There are many ways to be happy in this world. And while my belief in God is non-existent, I would never presume to force someone to give up their belief or close down their church.
And if a woman became unexpectedly pregnant, I would not force her to terminate it if she didn’t want to.
All we are asking is that you pay us the same courtesy.
And accept the fact that our God is not yours and it never will be.