Friday, July 4, 2014

The SCOTUS Bait And Switch

It seems the Supreme Court isn't quite done injecting religious freedom into health insurance coverage for women.  On Tuesday, a day after ruling Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to provide company health insurance coverage for contraception it (erroneously) believed was abortion, the Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby's beliefs trumped women's individual rights and that the company could then refuse to cover any forms of birth control.

Less than a day after the United States Supreme Court issued its divisive ruling onBurwell v. Hobby Lobby, it has already begun to toss aside the supposedly narrow interpretation of the decision. On Tuesday, the Supremes ordered lower courts to rehear any cases where companies had sought to deny coverage for any type of contraception, not just the specific types Hobby Lobby was opposed to.

The Affordable Care Act had listed 20 forms of contraception that had to be covered as preventive services. But Hobby Lobby, a craft supply chain, claimed that Plan B, Ella, and two types of IUD were abortifacients that violated the owners' religious principles. The science was against Hobby Lobby—these contraceptives do not prevent implantation of a fertilized egg and are not considered abortifacients in the medical world—but the conservative majority bought Hobby Lobby's argument that it should be exempted from the law.

Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the the 5-4 opinion, used numerous qualifiers in an attempt to limit its scope, but a series of orders released by the court Tuesday contradict any narrow interpretation of the ruling.

It got worse on Thursday as the Supreme Court then decided that non-profit organizations who objected to birth control coverage were somehow being crushed by a substantial burden of having to inform the government that they were non-profit organizations who wanted an exemption, and gave Illinois's Wheaton College an immediate injunction against having to fill out paperwork to say they wanted to opt out.

 In a decision that drew an unusually fierce dissent from the three female justices, the Supreme Court sided Thursday with religiously affiliated nonprofit groups in a clash between religious freedom and women’s rights.
The decision temporarily exempts a Christian college from part of the regulations that provide contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The court’s order was brief, provisional and unsigned, but it drew a furious reaction from the three female members, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. The order, Justice Sotomayor wrote, was at odds with the 5-to-4 decision on Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, which involved for-profit corporations.

“Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word,” Justice Sotomayor wrote. “Not so today.”

The court’s action, she added, even “undermines confidence in this institution.”

So, oops!  Sorry about your vagina, but the religious rights of a corporation outweigh the individual rights of a .woman's belief that birth control is a necessary medical expense that she should have covered through insurance she gets as part of compensation from her employer for working there.

Happy Independence Day, corporations!  You're now more important than women!  Congratulations!

1 comment:

mellowjohn said...

the college in question – wheaton college – used to offer contraception coverage as part of their health insurance until the ACA was passed, btw.
of course, when i was growing up in suburban chicago it was said of wheaton college that they didn't allow their students to have sex for fear it would lead to dancing.
(also too btw, billy graham's alma mater.)

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