Sunday, July 6, 2014

What the Real Fight Over Birth Control Is All About

Sheryl Sandberg says lean in. The Supreme Men say lean back and pop another baby.

So much has been written about the Hobby Lobby decision, but the response has been slow to call out the real reasoning: Keeping women barefoot and pregnant keeps them from successfully competing with men. It's about women's rights and equality. Certain men don't like that.

Here's a link to a Daily Kos post that nailed it two years ago.

Here's another to a Slate article by Eric Posner, who does a creditable job in explaining who wrote the stronger opinion. He says Alito did, but that doesn't mean the ruling is smart. Read the whole thing, but here's a key excerpt:
But the case will contribute to the Culture Wars. Early in her dissent, Ginsburg, quoting an earlier case, says, “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.” So she sets up Hobby Lobby as a clash between women’s rights and religious rights.
Posner doesn't buy Ginsberg's argument here, saying Alito's decision urges the government to offer the same workaround to for-profit companies that it did to non-profits. Amanda Marcotte, again in Slate, makes this point clear, as she quotes Alito's decision:
In fact, HHS has already devised and implemented a system that seeks to respect the religious liberty of religious nonprofit corporations while ensuring that the employees of these entities have precisely the same access to all FDA-approved contraceptives as employees of companies whose owners have no religious objections to providing such coverage. … according to HHS, this system imposes no net economic burden on the insurance companies that are required to provide or secure the coverage.

Although HHS has made this system available to religious nonprofits that have religious objections to the contraceptive mandate, HHS has provided no reason why the same system cannot be made available when the owners of for-profit corporations have similar religious objections.
Sounds reasonable and accommodating, right? But not so fast, say Dahlia Lithwick and Sonja West also in Slate. The Supreme Men have acted since the decision with a clarification that totally gives away the game and destroys all pretense:
Wheaton [College], however, along with many other religious not-for-profits, have long objected to this very workaround. They filed lawsuits claiming that the mere fact of signing a form noting their religious objection to contraception coverage triggered third parties to provide the contraception, which triggered women to have access to morning-after pills and IUDs, which in their view were akin to abortions, and thus violated their religious consciences. Signing the form, they said, was the same as actually providing the contraceptives themselves. It’s the butterfly effect of contraception. Any time Wheaton flaps its religious-conscience wings, a woman somewhere ends up with an IUD, and Wheaton’s religious liberties are violated.
And Thursday night a majority of the court agreed. The order is a preliminary injunction. The court will need to decide this and dozens of similar cases in the future. The justices caution that this in no way reflects their views of the future cases. But for our purposes, let it be known that the very workaround the court gave to religious objectors only four days earlier now likely violates their religious liberty as well.
Where this is headed seems clear. The workaround, the "accommodation" that Justice Alito used to make his decision narrow, will be declared "too restrictive" and thus illegal some time in the next term. And by granting the temporary injunction, all institutions that object to the birth-control mandate will not have to accept the accommodation until the Court issues a final opinion, which looks likely to strike down the accommodation.

Game over. The Court has effectively, for now, banned government-mandated birth control, in all its forms and will likely set that in stone next year.

As Lithwick and West pointed out, those affected by these decisions -- including the women of the Supreme Court who dissented -- "share a highly relevant personal characteristic: a uterus." Thus the true nature of the case is established: religious discrimination aimed strictly at women. Why? Amanda Marcotte knows why and thinks its a short-lived victory for religious conservatives:
This feels like an extremely reductive view of religion: As simply a way to codify reactionary beliefs about human sexuality. Or, as Atrios put it on Twitter, "religion is now only about unapproved fucking." And it’s ultimately not good for the religious right to have one of its own—Alito—limit the scope of legitimate religious grousing to matters of sexuality, as if religion has nothing else going for it. Hobby Lobby may have won this battle. But it won at the price of portraying the Christian right as little more than a movement of sex-obsessed busybodies.
Isn't that what the Christian right is all about? I'd say yes. Even their stand against gays is about sex. Yes, with Hobby Lobby, religion has shrunk indeed.

 Religion in the 21st century: Is it only about sex
and death? Woody Allen would agree.

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