Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hobby Lobby: Restricting Actual Freedom for People in the Name of Fake Religious Freedom for Corporations

In 21st-century America, only corporations have rights.

Scott Lemiuex at Lawyers, Guns and Money

The companies advancing the farcically specious religious freedom arguments against the contraception non-mandate want their employees to get even less for the health insurance they pay for with their labor than you think:
Arguments in front of the Supreme Court start next week in the Hobby Lobby case. Hobby Lobby is suing for a religious exemption from the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring that employer-provided health insurance cover contraception. Most of the coverage of the case has focused on Hobby Lobby’s objection to the contraception itself and how, if the business prevails, its employees will have to pay out of pocket for things like birth control pills or IUDs. But, as Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress explained on Wednesday, Hobby Lobby and their co-plaintiff, Conestoga Wood Specialties, are also objecting to insurance plans covering “related education and counseling” for contraception. In other words, these for-profit businesses aren’t just asking their female employees to pay for their own contraception, even though they are already paying for their own contraception by paying for their insurance coverage. These companies want to elbow their way into doctor’s offices and call the shots on what doctors can and cannot say to Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood employees.
In summary, Hobby Lobby et al. are citing a “burden” on religious practice so trivial as to be non-existent in order to impose actual burdens on the rights of their employees. This nicely summarizes how American conservatives think about “freedom.”
The way the story is being covered reveals the hidden agenda.

Kathleen Geier at Political Animal:
Few political stories of the past couple of years have exposed the not-so-subtle misogyny of much of the political/pundit class like the “debate” over coverage of birth control under the ACA — beginning with the fact that that we are even debating this topic in the first place. The vehemence of the disdain and scorn that is reserved for coverage of women’s reproductive health in general, and of birth control in particular, can be attributed only to the low regard with which women continue to be held throughout our society.

There are plenty of good counterarguments to Lee’s ignorance, and Crockett touches on most of them. The argument I like best, which is among those she discusses, is the economic one — and it’s one that should be patently obvious to a reporter like Lee, who reports on tech and economics for a living. It’s based on the simple concept that for employees, compensation is compensation, whether it’s in the form of wages or benefits. The compensation the employee earns is hers to spend, not her employer’s. No one is “buying” the employee anything; she herself has earned her own benefits out of her own wages.

Also bogus is the idea that employers are somehow being forced to subsidize birth control. A health plan that includes birth control saves money on costs associated with pregnancy. It’s more economically rational for the insurer to cover birth control because it’s cheaper than the alternative of only covering pregnancy and childbirth.
Because reducing women to the status of pets is the perfect cover for giving corporations unlimited power over all of us.

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