The main arguments that I have heard from the left on the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Wood Products (aka Hobby Lobby) question is that they are “discriminating against women” by “denying women’s access to health care”.
Setting aside for a moment the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which was signed into law by Bill Clinton after passing with 100% support in the House of Representatives and all but 3 Senators voting for it) and the fact that the contraception mandate was not in the text of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 – it was written in later by HHS as an administrative law/non-legislated regulation, let’s just look at the logic of the argument.
Is Hobby Lobby discriminating against women?
Is Hobby Lobby denying access?
To answer these questions, one must define what it is that the basis for the claim of discrimination or denied access is based upon. In this case, the root issue is the term “women’s health care” as it is claimed as the both the basis for determining discrimination (choosing to grant something to one and not the other) and the product or service denied.
Let’s slow walk through this…
Is Hobby Lobby discriminating in the supply of such therapy? The plans of both Hobby Lobby and Conestoga do provide coverage for contraceptive drugs. According to Greg Scott, Vice President for Communications at Alliance Defending Freedom, the organization representing Hobby Lobby’s co-respondents before the SCOTUS, the Hahn family and Conestoga Wood Specialties, both companies “… cover 16 of the 20 drugs that are demanded under this mandate.”
Is Hobby Lobby denying access? Companies in this case do actually provide contraception therapies; therefore, they are not “denying access”. It must also be noted that these therapies are all available to both employees and non-employees on the open market and one of the drugs these companies oppose on religious grounds, Plan B, is available over the counter, without age limit, to anyone with $49.99 in their pocket.
It should be noted that one could assume that it is possible to impute both denial and discrimination if Medicaid is used as the basis. In my research for this writing, much to my surprise I found that Medicaid covers “family planning”, up to and including the cost of annual exams, condoms, birth control pills, vaginal rings, contraceptive rings, contraceptive implants (Implanon), diaphragms, IUD, Depo Provera shots, tubal ligations, vasectomies and emergency contraception pills (Plan B).
Finally – is it plausible to define contraceptives as “women’s health care”? I would argue that in some cases it is. While 99% of contraception usage is to prevent pregnancy, there are cases where contraception drugs are prescribed to treat hormonal imbalances, regulation of menstrual periods, endometriosis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) as well as acne, hirsutism (excess hair) and alopecia (hair loss), long term use of the pill has also shown that it reduces the incident rates of certain types of cancers.
So it is true that there are non-contraceptive medical benefits to contraceptive therapies other than prophylaxis for pregnancy, we can stipulate to that but there is another definition of “women’s health care” that is germane to this discussion.
Where this definition becomes problematic is when the definition of “women’s health care” includes abortion and abortifacient drugs. Because abortion enters the picture, Hobby Lobby objects to paying for 4 types of mandated drugs/devices that the Christian owners, David Green and family, believe are equivalent to abortion – something that their religious convictions are against.
Note that these companies do not tell their employees that they can’t buy these drugs. They are not telling employees that they can’t use them under threat of dismissal or they consider any prior use of them as a disqualification for employment – they are simply petitioning that the companies not be required to pay for these 4 contraceptive methods.
If these companies are not discriminating or denying access, what issue remains?
Some would say that this is a gambit to cause companies that object to drop company provided health coverage and that this opens the door to a single payer universal health care system. Perhaps – but this seems a side issue because that is not a guaranteed outcome. What is left over is the same thing that always is the remainder in these divisive debates – abortion.
As long as the pro-abortion cabal can associate a human fetus with a tumor or a “cluster of cells”, they can treat the ending of a human life as a “women’s health care issue”. The real discrimination and denial here is being perpetrated against the women and men who believe life begins at conception, not at some point in gestation as determined by “science”.
Ann Coulter once described abortion as the holy sacrament of the liberal religion. Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood Products and their owners are not being hauled before Leviathan not because they are denying health care; they are there because they have committed the unpardonable sin of opposing abortion in all of its forms.