Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Tuesday, July 1st, 2014.


SCOTUS Doubles Down; The Right Uglies Up

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Obama Administration

AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday confirmed that its decision a day earlier extending religious rights to closely held corporations applies broadly to the contraceptive coverage requirement in the new health care law, not just the handful of methods the justices considered in their ruling.

The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings in favor of businesses that object to covering all 20 methods of government-approved contraception.

I find Ben Domenech’s opinion deeply offensive. Just make the pill over the counter, he says.

There are a number of objections to this, but I find them to largely amount to unconvincing paternalism. The chief argument advanced is that standard oral contraceptives mess with hormones and have all sorts of side effects. This is, of course, true! But: dangerous side effects are rampant within all sorts of other over the counter drugs. Women can think for themselves and make decisions with their doctor and pharmacist about what drugs they want to take – and the evidence shows they are good at self-screening. In fact, it would actually increase the ability to mitigate and respond to unanticipated side effects, since changing tracks will no longer require a doctor’s visit and getting a new prescription. Assuming that women won’t or can’t take responsibility for themselves to consult with a doctor unless required to by arbitrary government policy is absurd.

Some of those side effects are life threatening, and women with certain medical conditions shouldn’t take them. Most women would be okay, of course. But Domenech’s attitude send a big flashing neon message that he doesn’t value women. We are some alien Other that should just take care of our lady parts and not bother him about it.

There’s an argument for making birth control pills OTC, and maybe it’s a reasonable thing to do. But if you look at this map (scroll down), it seems to me that there’s a strong correlation between prescription requirement and the status of women in those countries — the lower the status, the lower the requirement to see a doctor. It does not comfort me a lot to be told that the pill is OTC in “most countries” when in most of those “most countries” women are second-class citizens. In some of them they’re still wearing head baskets.

This is my favorite:

EchoLight Studios, run by former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, said Monday it will release a movie Sep. 1 that explores the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision that was handed down Monday.

The film, a documentary called One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty, has been in the works for several months. The movie makes the case that the free expression of Christianity has lately been taking a backseat to free speech, government expansion and political correctness, and the Hobby Lobby case is one example from the film.

It’s the golden age of Christian persecution porn, I tell you. The fundies eat this up.

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Rally Round the IUD

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Obama Administration, Women's Issues

One of the several weird things about the Hobby Lobby decision is that it appears to leave open the possibility that just about any employer can withhold mandated coverage from employees for any “religious” belief, whether that belief makes factual sense or not. For example, Dahlia Lithwick writes,

Having read the opinion only briefly I am not at all clear on why Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, is so certain that he can hold the line here to closely held corporations and that the parade of “me too” litigants promised by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing in dissent, won’t show up on the court steps in the coming months and years. For one thing we are—going forward—no longer allowed to argue the science. “It is not for us to say that their religious beliefs are mistaken or insubstantial,” writes Alito. Also, going forward, we are not allowed to argue the depth of religious conviction. Once those are off the table in this case, they are either off the table forever, or the court will decide in the future what’s off and what’s on.

The science part refers to the fact that Hobby Lobby objected to emergency contraception and IUDs, in the belief that they cause abortions, and medical science says they don’t. Justice Alito apparently said that it doesn’t matter what the science says, it’s the belief itself that is sacred and unquestionable. But neither are we allowed to question the sincerity of that belief. This seems to me to open many industrial-size cans of big, nasty worms..

I don’t think most employers are going to suddenly drop contraception coverage, if only because it probably wouldn’t reduce their insurance costs much, if at all. It wouldn’t be worth the bad publicity. But the world is full of whackjobs who own companies and employ people.

Justice Alito claims this decision won’t open the door to denial of other kinds of coverage, but why it wouldn’t is not clear. Lithwick says this either means some religions — Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Wiccans — are not to be taken seriously. Or, he’s saying that some kinds of medical coverage don’t need to be taken seriously.

… while they concede that the government has a meaningful interest in assuring that Americans receive reproductive care, it’s actually only kind of serious, and not nearly as serious as the interest in preventing, say, the spread of disease (in the case of denied vaccinations). Here is Justice Alito: “HHS asserts that the contraceptive mandate serves a variety of important interests, but many of these are couched in very broad terms, such as promoting ‘public health’ and ‘gender equality.’ ”

Silly, silly gender equality. In silly quotation marks! You know what isn’t in quotation marks in this opinion? Infectious diseases. Because there’s a real government interest. Or, as Erick Erickson, the conservative blogger put it today: “My religion trumps your ‘right’ to employer subsidized consequence free sex.”

Erick Son of Erick is such a prince, ain’t he?

Anyway, early indications are that Dems intend to campaign on this decision. Dave Weigel writes that this decision potentially could cost the Republicans in November. Let’s hope.

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