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July 2, 2014

Religious Freedom Gets a Reprieve

The collective heads (talking, confused, and empty) of the left have exploded in outrage upon the release of the Supreme Court rule in favor of Hobby Lobby’s challenge to Obamacare’s contraception mandate. While the ruling is narrow – applying to “closely-held” (re: private) companies and a select group of contraceptives considered abortifacients (re: baby-killers) – the indignation and intolerance of the left is on full display in the mainstream media and on the web. Deemed an attack on women’s rights by some and “gender bigotry” by the head of the national Organization for Womyn, the decision has served to further polarize pro-life and pro-abortion supporters, conservatives and progressives. “Birth control is not my boss’ business,” they protest. That’s all well and good, except they demand that bosses pay for it, right?

The Associated Press has already declared that the administration will now have to find a new way to provide free contraception for those women covered by objecting companies. Really? Hmm – I have yet to hear so much as a warble of protest from any Hobby Lobby employees. And, by the way, if a woman fails to take advantage of the contraceptives that are covered by her plan and she wants to terminate the life growing inside her, shouldn’t she just pay for the drug or the device herself? Why is the federal government compelled to provide this? The AP’s conclusion illustrates precisely why the government should not be in the healthcare business. We’ll wind up with more regulation and more court battles in the end.

While we celebrate the decision, those on the other side have their panties in knots. Numerous tweets proclaimed a desire to start burning down Hobby Lobby stores (Hey, that’ll really help the economy, won’t it?). They decried the idea that women have been deemed second class citizens by this ruling. Vitriol and intolerance of all kinds have been coaxed out of the left. Boycotts of Hobby Lobby will be called for. My guess is that those proposing to boycott never crossed the threshold of a Hobby Lobby store anyway. But suffice it to say, that is among the milder responses I have heard.

So, what is it about this narrow ruling that drives the left off their rockers? Here’s my take on why they are so unhinged.

First, lefties believe the Affordable Care Act is good law and just what the country needs. Thus, the SCOTUS ruling, slapping down the contraception mandate in part, is an absolutely horrific decision. Somehow, with the passage and implementation of AFA, healthcare has morphed into a right. It is just not so; there is no mention of such a right in any of our founding documents. So, why then has the government made healthcare its business? Many of us don’t believe the government should be so intimately involved in 1/6 of the nation’s economy and so deeply entwined in our personal lives, as healthcare tends to be very personal. Obamacare is as much an infringement on individual liberty as it is an affront to capitalism.

Second, if you believe abortion is “basic health care” and a fundamental right of women, then this ruling is a denial of that right (there’s that word again). Let’s keep in mind that this ruling applies to a class of drugs or devices that serve to terminate a fertilized egg, effectively killing the conceived baby before it can be implanted in the womb. I and most Christians I know hold firmly to the belief that life begins at conception, while abortion supporters disagree strenuously. An embryo or a fetus is simply a blob of tissue that has no rights; it’s the mother-to-be that has the right to decide the fate of that blob of tissue. Hobby Lobby’s healthcare insurance covers other contraceptives that deny fertilization and they have not objected to coverage for those. The Supreme Court ruling does not implicate those in this decision either.

The third reason for the left’s vehemence is directed at the Court itself, and more specifically, the gender of those who ruled for Hobby Lobby. This decision involving women’s bodies and healthcare was determined by 5 men. This is “gender bigotry” as proclaimed heatedly by Terry O'Neill, head of NOW. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, emailed supporters that “the five justices who ruled against women today are out of step with most Americans.” It’s a matter of perspective, to be sure, but the Court ruled against a mandate that infringes upon religious liberty and not against women. In that, they have preserved religious freedom as protected in the first amendment. Contrary to the sweeping, angst-ridden declarations of the left, this is a narrow ruling. The left calls this a war on women and that the ruling “denies access” to “basic health care.” They just won’t admit it’s about religious freedom and their most sacred cow – abortion. And yes, it was decided by 5 men, who, by the way, are in the majority on the court (6-3). It is not unlikely that, by sheer force of numbers such a ruling would occur at some point no matter the case. Get over it, and quickly, my progressive friends. This is a blow for religious freedom and it serves to expose one of the many weaknesses of a Rube Goldberg piece of legislation that few people want.

Looking at this from a slightly different perspective, conscientious objector status is available to those enlistees who have “a firm, fixed, and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or the bearing of arms, by reason of religious training and/or belief.” (DOD 1300.6) Quakers, for example, do not believe in war and could apply for such status. While military service is no longer compulsory in the US (no longer a mandate, like Obamacare is), the principle of CO status is remarkably similar to Hobby Lobby’s position. And, what about the 1200 or so exemptions granted to corporations and friends of Barry long before the law was enacted? I haven’t heard a word of protest from the left on those evil corporations being handed exemptions. So, what is the big deal with Hobby Lobby? Oh, never mind, I get it. It’s about an acceptable kind of bigotry against those “narrow-minded” Christians. And, in the affirming words of Al Franken (a.k.a. Stuart Smalley), “that’s okay.”

John T. Brown is @RedCav on Twitter

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