Monday, June 30, 2014

Following Today's Hobby Lobby Decision

Remember the debate over government funding for embryonic stem-cell research a decade ago? Early in George W. Bush's presidency, he nixed government funding for embryonic stem-cell research, though he allowed for research to be conducted on existing embryos. A ridiculous outcry rose up from the left calling Bush anti-science and accusing pro-life conservatives of being stuck in the stone age.

The thing about their explosive response is that the Bush administration did not make embryonic stem-cell research illegal. All he did was cease government funding toward a practice with many ethical questions attached. Embryonic stem-cell research continues to this day (though it's not necessary). I'd rather it have been deemed illegal altogether, but at least our tax dollars didn't have to pay for it. That was it.

Fast forward to today's decision by the Supreme Court, granting victory to Hobby Lobby who contested the ObamaCare mandate that would have required businesses to provide their employees with abortifacient drugs. Welcome to the Embryo Wars, Episode 2 (or episode 17,485, but who's counting).

Once again, dissenting voices are decrying the decision made by the Supreme Court, who are allowing for-profit employers to opt out of having to provide abortifacient drugs in their healthcare plans for their employees. It was a close vote, but the Supreme Court ruled that ObamaCare overstepped its bounds in trying to enforce life-ending, abortifacient drugs on employers.

Why is this like The Embryonic Stem-Cell Research Debate of yester-decade? Because just like how the Bush administration's ruling didn't make embryonic stem-cell research illegal, the SCOTUS ruling doesn't knock out contraception coverage for employees. You would think SCOTUS just made contraceptives illegal altogether the way some are weeping over it.

Out of 20 available contraceptives, 4 of them are abortifacients. Those are the contraceptives Hobby Lobby filed suit over. That leaves 16 other contraceptives that even a business like Hobby Lobby will pay for its employees to receive. As Justice Alito has said, employees still have access to contraceptives. Their employers are just not required by government enforcement to provide the ones that could potentially, you know, kill someone.

Joe Carter of the Gospel Coalition tweeted, "Serious question: Is there a medical reason a woman would require 1 of the 4 abortifacients rather than the other 16 covered contraceptives?" Hmmmm. Darn it, I just can't think of one.

Meanwhile, Rachel Held Evans tweeted that the decision, "sets the stage/precedent for corporations to get out of paying for healthcare by claiming religion." No, it doesn't do any such thing! (Denny Burk has already written a champion response as to why Rachel Held Evans is wrong, which is a title the belongs at the top of her blog.)

On the contrary, the SCOTUS ruling affects Catholic institutions like the University of Notre Dame and Little Sisters of the Poor in a less favorable way. The Catholic church is opposed to all contraception, not just abortifacients. They can opt out of providing contraception, but they have to fill out a Labor Department form, and by signing the form, they're designating the provision of contraceptives to someone else. They'd rather not have their hands in anything to do with contraceptives at all.

It should not be the requirement of a business or an employer to provide any kind of contraceptives for their employees. Nor should it be upon the American people to dump money in some kind of public trust so that others might have access to free or "affordable" contraception. The whole issue removes personal responsibility and places the decision in the hands of the government. So many people want that to happen. And that's scary. That is not freedom.

Just like all of the semantic arguments that came with the embryonic stem-cell research debate, be very cautious about how Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby is talked about. The ethics of Hobby Lobby or any other corporation are not the point. Don't get suckered by Pharisaical catch-22's like, "Now who gets to decide what religion a corporation is?" That's a stupid argument which distracts from the much bigger issue.

That issue is what 5 of the Supreme Court's 9 members determined today -- that our government is far overreaching its bounds. We would not even be talking about this if the Obama administration was not venturing into territory where it doesn't belong. Today was a victory for life. Continue to pray for kings and those who are in high positions that they will respect and fight to protect that life (1 Timothy 2:1-4, Proverbs 31:8-9).