Next week, the United States Supreme Court will be deciding several issues of significant importance in cases brought by Hobby Lobby and a small furniture company, Conestoga Wood Specialties. I’ve written several times about these issues, including about Hobby Lobby and its fanatical, anti-Semitic owner, David Green, and his attempt to force his religious beliefs upon first the thousands of people who are employed by his company, and through this litigation, in effect upon millions of additional people who have employer-provided health insurance coverage.
The short and concise statement that these cases seek to overturn the Affordable Care Act provisions that requires full coverage for contraception in employer-provided health insurance policies is far too narrow and simplistic – much more is at stake. The broader issues include the far-reaching position that an employer can force his employees to subscribe to his personal religious beliefs, and in fact, that point is argued to apply to a corporate employer, that is, that a corporation not only can posses religious beliefs, but that it has the power to command that its employees also follow those beliefs.
|Another key element of the pending cases is the often ignored element of Hobby Lobby’s attempt to also stifle the dissemination of health-related information:|
They have asked the court to not only strike down the Affordable Care Act’s provisions regarding the providing of contraception, but also its requirement that health insurance coverage for contraception also provide “related education and counseling”.
Thus, this litigation seeks to allow employers, individual or corporate, to have the right to prevent patients from discussing personal health issues with their physicians. The impact of such a proscription is unimaginable – a limitation on what can be discussed between doctor and patient, in order to have a visit covered by insurance, will effect not just the cost of health care but the health and well-being of millions, not to mention the assured result of untold numbers of unanticipated and unwanted pregnancies.
Looking at the potential cost effect on employees who would have to begin paying for a variety of health services no longer covered by their insurance, some experts have likened the effect to be that of a cut in pay. Extending that out, low-wage workers who would then have to pay for such services might then be receiving a pay rate that falls below minimum wage levels.
position. That is absolutely NOT the case. A significant number of religious organizations, like a majority of such groups, support the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that provide widespread access to contraception for millions of women who could otherwise not afford it.
In fact, a group of 45 nationally known religious leaders have signed a letter in support of the upholding these provisions, saying in part that:
“No single religious voice can speak for all faith traditions on contraception, nor should government take sides on religious differences. We call on our government to respect the beliefs and values of everyone’s faith by safeguarding equal access to contraception for those whose conscience leads them to use it.”
The entire letter and the names of those signing it can be found here.
As I wrote last November, if Hobby Lobby can say no to contraception, then a Christian Scientist employer would then have the right to refuse to allow its employee health insurance from covering blood transfusions or from covering prescriptions for diabetics to receive insulin, and even from allowing their employees to discuss their diabetes with their personal physicians.
This is not religious freedom. This is a return to feudalism.