Monday, July 7, 2014

Let me check my constitution...

I've been really disappointed seeing my friends post false and intentionally offensive comments on facebook regarding the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but it saddens me that people don't seem to care if they lose actual friends by making fun of their beliefs in a public forum.  Facebook is not the place for these discussions.  You aren't going to change anyone's mind and you risk hurting relationships in a way that you probably wouldn't in a face-to-face discussion.  This isn't the best forum either, but I have more room to explain myself, rather than just posting a picture or a link to an article that someone else created.  I want to clarify some parts of this issue that I've seen and hopefully create a more fruitful discussion of this topic.  And I'm going to do my very best to not poke fun at someone's closely-held beliefs.  Because we all have them, and just because they aren't the same doesn't mean they aren't important.

The thing that stands out to me the most is the complete lack of imagination by both parties.  I've seen accusations of "slippery slope" thinking on the part of the losing side that make me laugh.  Because here's the deal -- Christians are afraid of the slippery slope too.  Just a few weeks ago, Christians were afraid that if Hobby Lobby lost, they would lose their religious freedom, be forced to have abortions and marry gay people, and be hunted down and fed to lions.  So I don't blame the other side for having the same fears that this case (as is the nature of Supreme Court cases) will set a significant precedent and change how the rights of individuals and corporations function in our legal system.  It probably will.  Stop minimizing that fact, and have some sympathy for the people who disagree with the decision and are afraid of what this will mean for our future.  That said, I think we need to address this issue as it exists currently, not within the possible futures we can imagine.  There are many, many, other cases and Supreme Court decisions between where we are now and any of those futures.  Let's take a breath.

There seems to be a general misunderstanding of how religious freedom functions in this context.  I've seen a lot of people voicing concerns about employers who are religiously opposed to blood transfusions, eating beef, etc, being allowed to force their employees to live by their rules.  That's not what's going on here.  Their employer can't force their employees to abide by their religious convictions.  The reason religious freedom enters this discussion is because the owners believe that they themselves are sinning against their religious beliefs by owning a company that pays for these items.  The discussion is about their religious freedom being compromised, not about them trying to control their employees.  There are plenty of religions that limit medical practices within their religion as in "you don't get into heaven if you have a blood transfusion" (to over-simplify it).  So the person with these beliefs would not have a blood transfusion.  However, suppose they own a company.  Can they deny blood transfusions to their employees, or refuse to pay for them?  NO.

The question we end up with is:  Are the religious freedoms of the owners of Hobby Lobby infringing on their employees' rights?  Since the employees are still allowed to purchase and use these items, but not have them paid for, the main consideration is whether or not a person has the right to have medical care (specifically birth control) paid for by their employer.  Are my rights as a woman violated by having to pay for the birth control of my choice?

Really, really not.

Different employers have different benefits, including pay scale, vacation days, and birth control options.  You have the right to find an employer that offers what you need - be it free IUDs, paid-for maternity leave, stock options, or whatever.  Within the status quo, a female employee of Hobby Lobby has lost part of a medical benefit, but not a constitutional right.  Some health care plans pay more for dental, or prenatal care, etc.  Working for a company that doesn't have those doesn't infringe on my rights.  The fact that I may have to make a decision to go to work somewhere else or pay out of pocket for something does not mean I am lacking in my rights a US citizen.  There are SO MANY other things that aren't covered at all by any health care plan (including my own birth control of choice) that we have to pay for by ourselves.  It sucks.  Do we have the right to have these things provided for us free of charge?

Let me check my constitution...

hang on....

nope, not in here.

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