Fourth of July. A day to reflect on our liberty to do as we please. We fill most of the day with picnics, sports, and fireworks, with little reflection on the events which the day commemorates, other than singing the national anthem for a minute of patriotism. Leisure. The time we do what we want. Freetime. Time to read, watch TV or a movie, visit with family and friends, directly or on social media, work on crafts or art, participate or watch sports, work in the garden, exercise, walk in the woods, go camping. So many types of leisure our prosperous and free society allows us. This looks like a good place for a poll. But when think about those craft, we have lots of choices of where to purchase our supplies, Micheals, Ben Franklins, Joanne Fabrics, Hobby Lobby. Hey, Hobby Lobby, that reminds me of one leisure activity that every honest person would admit to, but not put on a list: sex. Oh, come on, when we have a day free doesn’t a little flirtation, romance, or maybe even the wango-bango cross our mind to do? TMI Alert: This blogs contains discussion of birth control and has a bit of sarcasm in it. Have your wits about you, or just skip the text and fill out the pole
This week, the Supreme Court ruled that the owners of Hobby Lobby can be exempted from participating in the Affordable Care Act insurance scheme because of the owner’s religious objections to birth control methods (specifically, the Morning-After-Pill) which they consider abortion and against their religious practices. The reasoning is that the company is “closely owned” by the family, and not a publicly owned company. As all of the family professes the same belief system, their freedom of region would be imposed on by the government, if they were required to provide birth control to their employes (regardless of the employee’s religious beliefs) through health insurance.
This case has a lot of levels of implication. Religious freedom of owners vs employees. Government mandated insurance benefits vs private insurance companies setting standards. Birth control methods (prior to conception vs after the risk of conception, abstinence, withdrawal…). Privacy and individual rights to engage in sex, within or outside of marriage. Businesses vs individual rights. Sex as primarily a means of procreation vs enjoyment (I’m sure that none of the Supreme Court Justices will have sex during their summer vacations, as none of them or their spouses are still in the reproductive years, right?).
There are many bloggers and talking-heads make various points about this case at the moment. I believe that such discussion is useful, but will mostly be missed as people heading off for vacation around this holiday time.
One point that I want address is the difference between government regulation (i.e. the Affordable Care Act) allowing certain behavior (liberty) vs mandating certain behavior (tyranny). Any “benefit” that is required by the Affordable Care Act becomes an option for the person insured to use, but not an obligation. A basic concept in health care, and not infringed on by the Affordable Care Act, is the right to refuse treatment. As long as the patient demonstrates competence to make health care decision, directly to the health care provider, through Advanced Directives, or via a Health Care Power of attorney, that person can refuse to have heart surgery, limbs amputated, dialysis initiated or continued, CPR and ventilator breathing performed, transfusions, hip or knee surgery, or birth control.
The error in the Hobby Lobby case is that the plaintiffs, lawyers, and justices viewed the mandate for a specific health benefit as an obligation not an option. Granted providing a benefit might be an obligation, but using that benefit is still up to the individual.
This brings up the second issue regarding using a benefit. Insurance works be creating a list of benefits and a group of people, in the Hobby Lobby case, their employees. The premium money is collected, then distributed as the employees use various services (Don’t get me started on how insurance companies evade paying for services… different topic). Thus, Hobby Lobby’s insurance company may be required to offer birth control, but as long as no employee uses birth control, that benefit cost them nothing. They can use the insurance funds for say prenatal care, child birth, NICU (neo-natal intensive care) units, well-baby and early intervention therapy, pediatric health care, etc. I am sure that the owners of Hobby Lobby also would want their male employes to not have vasectomy, so they could distribute those unused benefits elsewhere too. Let’s not forget the man’s responsibility in sex and procreation.
The question to ask Hobby Lobby, if their employees hold the same religious beliefs as the owners, who would use birth control anyway? As long as their employees acted in accordance to the owner’s wishes, no moral or religious view would be violated.
Now, this brings up another issue. Whom does Hobby Lobby hire? Making a few assumptions based on their objection to birth control and fighting this to the Supreme Court, I would expect that they believe, on religious principle that women of child-bearing age should be at home rearing those children, possibly even home-schooling them. The last time I wondered into Micheal’s craft shop, I found all female employees, most of whom either had or could have children.
Okay, Hobby Lobby, lay off all those potential mothers, hire post-menapausal women, grandmothers, and men.
As for all of you who checked off leisure tasks in the poll, but did not include “sex”, no fireworks for you, after the 4th of July fireworks!
It sounds like both the Hobby Lobby and the Supreme Court view “free will” with a suspicious eye. WWJD? “Go and sin no more”? I’m just guessing.
Interesting how the concept of freedom is getting re-defined and used to justify all sorts of actions. Institutions (companies, media, government) have been used for some time as a way to evade personal responsibility, attributing actions to the institiutions rather than the individuals acting within those institutions. The Great Recession did not happen because of congress representatives who set up a series of laws and then investors within the banks making poor decisions, but because the “governemnt” and “banks” acting. Of course, if you confronted those individuals about their “free will” they would probably defend themselves as acting for thier constituents and investors. Adam and Eve did not have some organization to hide thier original sin behind.
Interesting blog post. It’s nice to see such an issue being discussed in a down-to-earth way. Since this is so much about a very down-to-earth thing.
Between the Supreme Court announcing the decision the day before the summer recess, and the abstract nature of the ruling, I think few people considered the implications. Without much thought about life, we let others make decision for us. Not a wise option, in my opinion. Thanks for checking in & commenting.
@”Fourth of July. A day to reflect on our liberty to do as we please.” – bonnes vacances! 🙂
… and speakin’ of liberty: http://myvirtualplayground.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/4th-of-july-happy-independence-day-america/