Hobby Lobby Decision isn’t About Birth Control, it’s About Bullying
Julie Borowski, Policy Analyst for FreedomWorks
The Supreme Court made the right decision by ruling that the owners of Hobby Lobby are not required to pay for certain forms of birth control that conflict with their religious beliefs. Make no mistake- I have nothing against birth control. Nor do I think that the birth control methods in question are abortifacients. My opposition to ObamaCare’s contraceptive mandate is that the government is forcing people to pay for something against their conscience.
To me, it doesn’t matter what the government is mandating that employers purchase. I don’t even particularly care about why an employer is opposed to providing a specific product or service to their employees. It could be for religious reasons or it could not be. It also makes no difference to whether I agree with their reasoning or not.
The fact of the situation is that the government is forcing someone to pay for something that they oppose. I find that to be a form of bullying, and that’s why I do not support ObamaCare’s contraceptive mandate.
Some people who are angry about the court’s decision are claiming that employers are “denying” women contraceptives. First of all, the Hobby Lobby decision is not banning birth control. It merely says employers with religious objections don’t have to pay for certain forms of birth control.
Not paying for someone’s birth control is not denying them birth control. Employers have every right not to directly pay for it and employees have every right to spend their paycheck as they please. There’s nothing stopping anyone from purchasing birth control in this decision.
A common complaint is that it’s “unfair” for employer provided health insurance to cover Viagra but not Plan B emergency contraception pills. However, it would be just as wrong for the government to mandate that employers pay for male enhancement pills. The government shouldn’t be able to prohibit any employer from covering birth control pills in their insurance plans either. It goes both ways.
Others are saying that their boss should have no say in their health care decisions. Why then, are these same people advocating that the government force their boss to directly pay for their birth control? They just made it their bosses’ business. If your boss is paying for your birth control, he or she is very much involved in your intimate health care decisions—by footing the bill.
Some are worried about what other challenges might come next due to the Hobby Lobby case precedent. In the dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writes,
“Reading the Act expansively, as the Court does, raises a host of ‘Me, too’ questions. Can an employer in business for profit opt out of coverage for blood transfusions, vaccinations, antidepressants, or medications derived from pigs, based on the employer’s sincerely held religious beliefs opposing those medical practices.”
For sure, we live in a diverse country and some employers may have objections to certain medical practices. That’s one reason that we should have freedom of association—employers can choose what to cover and employees can choose to work for the employer that matches their values and preferences.
But moreover, it brings up questions on why health insurance should be tied to a job in the first place. For those concerned about employer meddling in their health care decisions, how about calling for a separation of health insurance and employment?
Bosses didn’t always have a say over their employee’s health care decisions. It sounds weird when you really think about it. Just imagine your employer offering car insurance, for instance.
Employers only started offering health insurance to their employees during the wage freeze imposed by the government during World War II. Since employers were forbidden from offering higher salaries to attract new workers, they offered health insurance instead.
Things have changed a lot since the 1940’s. No longer do most people stay at the same company for their entire career. By 42, the average American will change jobs 11 times. Since employer based health insurance is not portable, people lose coverage every time they change jobs.
Instead, how about your employer paying you a higher salary and you can purchase your preferred health insurance on your own?
This is a popular idea that allows people to have more choice over their health insurance while keeping their bosses out of it.
The underlying issue has nothing to do with birth control. The question is should the government be allowed to force people to purchase things against their will? I say no.