Are Zealots Replaying Citizens United with Contraception Ordered By Obamacare?

By Donald A. Collins | 27 November 2013
Church and State

(Credit: USCapitol / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

What a bizarre conundrum! Testing, as our legal system is doing, to paraphrase Mr. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, whether this nation or any nation can withstand a government that can’t overcome the absurdity of failing to enact and enforce reasonable secular laws when idiot religious beliefs can trump them.

These religions already have tax free havens from which they continuously toss crazy stink bombs on every possible issue when there are secular laws with which they don’t agree.

Their property, largely untaxed, gives them citadels from which to hurl these idiocies, while other believers with only NGO status must limit their advocacies with strict limits.

Will our highest court, the Supreme Court of the USA, now be able to make sense of cases it has agreed to hear, given the position that government can only speak to secular issues, whereas the pleaders for special exemption, in this case from providing family planning in their health plans, speak only to GOD??? Their GOD of course who knows all things, including in the case of some religions how faith comes best through snake charming.

Yes, the NY Times in its 11/27/13 story, “Justices Take Companies’ Cases Challenging Contraception Rule” tells us that

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a pair of cases on whether corporations may refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraception to their workers based on the religious beliefs of the corporations’ owners.

The cases present a new challenge to President Obama’s health care law. The Supreme Court in 2012 upheld another part of the law, one that requires most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty.

The Obama administration has exempted many religious groups from the law’s requirements for contraception coverage. But it said for-profit corporations could not rely on religious objections to opt out of compliance with the law.

The real question here is what power should religious organizations have in the fashioning of secular laws? The historic answer here and worldwide has been that they have had immense influence and likely will continue to have enormous sway, much to the detriment of everyone.

“Our policy is designed to ensure that health care decisions are made between a woman and her doctor,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. “The president believes that no one, including the government or for-profit corporations, should be able to dictate those decisions to women.”

The lower courts are divided over whether for-profit corporations may object to generally applicable laws on religious liberty grounds.

Hey, Jay, no one is dictating anything to women! Women will decide for themselves as they have, when they have contraceptive choices, whether to use them or not. They are sadly outmanuevered by male dominated monotheistic religions in too many places around the world so that of the 40 million plus abortions which they suffer every year only about half are done safely, despite the fact that it takes two to tango and two to make a baby.

So what is Obama saying? That our courts should tell women they can’t have contraception via their health plans if the providers don’t want to include such benefits? Yes, exactly what he is saying and that is utterly disgusting. Remember for example that many hospitals have been taken over by Catholic operators, hospitals which were funded by bonds from the general public, not the Catholic Church. Does that mean the RCC gets to leverage its beliefs on secularly provided money? Apparently!

The Times continues:

In June, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, in Denver, ruled for Hobby Lobby, a corporation owned by a family whose members have said they try to run the business on Christian principles. The company, which operates a chain of arts-and-crafts stores and has more than 15,000 full-time employees of many faiths, objected to a requirement in the health care law that large employers provide their workers with comprehensive insurance coverage for contraception.

Hobby Lobby told the justices that it had no problem with offering coverage for many forms of contraception, including condoms, diaphragms, sponges, several kinds of birth control pills and sterilization surgery. But drugs and devices that can prevent embryos from implanting in the womb are another matter, and make it complicit in a form of abortion, the company said.

Whoa! The good old Hobby Lobby wants to deny choice which was long ago decided by Roe v Wade. And Plan B for example is not an abortifacient. Yes, RU 486 is and is Misoprostol but what right does anyone have to say what choice a woman may make about contraception?

Well that the conundrum question and with so many Catholics on the Supreme Court, I guess this was a power play to let religions run America, something which horrified our Founding Fathers some of whom saw first hand how bad that proved to be in Europe.

Yes, as the Times piece tell us, “The law presents companies with difficult choices, Hobby Lobby told the justices. Failing to offer comprehensive coverage could subject it to fines of $1.3 million a day, it said, while dropping insurance coverage for its employees entirely could lead to fines of $26 million a year.” Hooray! Let the fines begin!

Of course the ghost of the horrible Citizens United decision, which gave corporation status as people, was echoed when as the Times tells us “The Tenth Circuit ruled that Hobby Lobby was a “person” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, and that its religious beliefs had been compromised without good reason.”

Surely subjecting women to possible bloody back alley abortions ranks high on reasons against this Hobby ruling. And for virtually no money. $26 million a year in penalties would buy a lot of women good safe protection if they needed an abortion or just contraceptives to avoid one.

The Times tellingly tells us about the Hobby Lobby’s religiously focused legal team:

Kyle Duncan, a lawyer with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents Hobby Lobby, said he was pleased that the justices had agreed to resolve the split among the federal appeals courts. “We hope the Supreme Court will vindicate the rights of family business owners,” he said.

Awk, by all means let’s put the rights of these businesses above the human rights of women, who after all are only women, subject to the dictates of the male dominated religious leaders Mr. Duncan is willing to flack for.

Fortunately there are voices on the side of women. As the Times tells us:

Nancy Northup, the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement that “the right to religious freedom belongs to individuals, not for-profit institutions.”

“These for-profit companies,” she said, “are no more entitled to deny women insurance coverage for essential health care than they are to dictate how any of us can and cannot spend our paychecks.”

In July, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia, ruled against the Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, which makes wood cabinets and is owned by a Mennonite family that had similar objections to the law. The Third Circuit concluded that “for-profit, secular corporations cannot engage in religious exercise.”

Good points, but again after “Citizens United” which declared corporations to be persons my confidence in this Court is low. And for good reason, as the Times tells about another non profit, heavily funded by religions:

David Cortman, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents the company and its owners, said the ruling was misguided. “The administration has no business forcing citizens to make a choice between making a living and living free,” he said.

The Third Circuit rejected an analogy to the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United, which ruled that corporations have a First Amendment right to free speech. Though the First Amendment also protects the free exercise of religion, Judge Robert E. Cowen wrote for the majority of a divided three-judge panel, “it does not automatically follow that all clauses of the First Amendment must be interpreted identically.”

A slight beam of hope, but now that same top court which ruled for Citizens United could make another horrible decision against women.

But a five-judge majority of an eight-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit, in the Hobby Lobby case, said that “the First Amendment logic of Citizens United” extended to religious freedom.

“We see no reason the Supreme Court would recognize constitutional protection for a corporation’s political expression but not its religious expression,” Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich wrote for the majority.

A dissenting member of the court, Chief Judge Mary Beck Briscoe, wrote that the majority’s approach was “nothing short of a radical revision of First Amendment law.”

The cases the Supreme Court agreed to hear on Tuesday, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, No. 13-354, and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, No. 13-356, are likely to be argued in March and decided by June, two years after the court’s last major encounter with the health care law.

The heavy ideological legacy of George W. Bush and his father will hang over the US for years. “W” named Judge Tymkovich to the 10th Circuit in 2006 and as you know named Catholics Alito and Roberts to the Supreme Court. They join Catholics Scalia and Kennedy and 41’st appointee, Clarence Thomas, who is bonded at the hip on decisions with Scalia. FDR tried and failed to “pack” the Court in the 1930’s, but the Bushes succeeded in doing it—5 Catholics and one likely proxy with Scalia!

As this site has devoted its mission to protecting secular rights from undue incursions from religious groups who would force non religious persons into choices involving tax revenues provided by all of us, we now have the perhaps unsolvable conundrum of not being able to require health care coverage by corporations who disdain the wishes of the female employees. How kooky is that?

Wonder if ACA had passed a cheaper plan which embraced the views of Mary Baker Eddy? You may recall she founded the religious sect called Christian Science, which preached against using modern medical advances. Let’s not use the Pill, which could be regarded as the greatest advance in human rights for women in the history of the world? The majority of us rule on this one.

Ok, who pays for birth control is of course the issue, but any package of medical choices should be the women’s choice not one made by these crazy zealots who want to force all women into their narrow view of proper behavior. Pregnancy is a potentially dangerous medical condition, one which should only be entered into with the view that the child is wanted.

Wonder also if the Hobby Lobby plans also to offer Viagra or other erectile enhancing drugs? After all, if so, the ladies have even more reason to want protection from unintended pregnancies.

Well, as noted in the beginning of my piece, we will shortly be testing, again to paraphrase the Great Emancipator, “whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and dedicated, can long endure.”

We are indeed then and have been engaged since our founding in a great civil war about human rights. It took 4 score and 7 years to initiate the undoing of the civil rights of African Americans, which still remains a work very much in progress.

Every year women die or are maimed in huge numbers because of their inability to obtain safe abortion services due to an unwanted pregnancy.

Those of us who have spent our lives concerned with that issue and the need to supply contraceptive services to all who want them, free if necessary, take Lincoln’s word just as seriously in our context as he proclaimed them in his, namely “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

But the key phrase contained here, “under God” does not mean that unknowable will of an unknowable entity should make laws that rule us when secular issues are presented.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013

By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
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Supreme Court to hear Obamacare contraception case

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  1. The author keeps using the word freedom without resizing what it means. People have a right to be bigoted asses on their property whether its a business or not. Businesses have no obligation to the public. There is no difference between a persons home and their business. If a person can discriminate in their home they have every right to apply those opinions to all aspects of their property. This is am example of judicial activism at its worst.


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