Crossposted at DemocraticDiva.com
Libby Anne of Patheos has an excellent run-down of Monday’s Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court. Read the whole thing but I wanted to focus on this part here, which was very well put:
Next question, the majority says that the birth control mandate does place a “substantial burden” on Hobby Lobby’s religious beliefs. And this sentence is crucial: “The owners of the businesses have religious objections to abortion, and according to their religious beliefs the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients.”
Note how carefully Alito worded that sentence, “according to their religious beliefs” these items are abortifacients. He had to word it this carefully because the four contraceptives at issue (Mirena, Paragard, Plan B, and Ella) are NOT, in fact, abortifacients according to the FDA. This is really crucial. The majority allowed Hobby Lobby to define for itself what in fact causes an abortion. There is a difference, you see, between saying “my religious belief is that abortion is immoral” [the religious belief Hobby Lobby has really pushed hard in all its filings] and saying “my religious belief is that Mirena causes abortion.” The first cannot and should not be challenged by a court, if that’s your belief, that’s your belief. The second is a question of fact, which can be proved or disproved via science. Individuals should not be able to declare that anything they dislike causes abortion and therefore avoid any laws relating to that item. Because there is no steady, safe line to draw between those who think IUDs cause abortions and those who think Tylenol causes abortion. Both are scientifically incorrect statements. For a court to accept the first and throw out the second because it’s “ludicrous” is picking and choosing favorites among religious beliefs, an extremely dangerous path.
I think Hobby Lobby got as far as it did with this Court because 1) these old men have no idea how contraception works and 2) most Americans who support Hobby Lobby wrongly believe this is a case about abortion coverage. It is more palatable for a company to claim it just doesn’t want to support abortion than to say it doesn’t support birth control—because the vast majority of women in this country use birth control at some point in their lives. Hobby Lobby has gotten away with a PR sleight of hand and was not put to its proof when it came to its claim that the four contraceptives at issue are abortifacients.
I agree with almost all of that. I do quibble with the idea that most Americans who support Hobby Lobby think it’s about abortion coverage. I’d say the vast majority do know that it’s about birth control but without the “abortifacient” cover they know they have nothing but screaming about sluts in their arsenal. The four conservative Justices on SCOTUS are no different from the typical raging wingnut in my Twitter feed in that regard, despite their pedigrees. Sitting on the top court of the land and having that centrist drama queen Anthony Kennedy in their pocket did enable them to manufacture a “religious objection” to contraception entirely out of whole cloth. Conservatives have increasingly been conflating anything having to do with women with “abortion” but it hadn’t been so legally enshrined until now. The decision definitely seems to have increased the certainty anti-choicers exhibit about how airtight and unassailable their “abortifacient” argument is.
But is anyone but anti-choicers convinced? I’m not seeing any indication. Support for contraception in general remains strong despite the constant “abortifacient” rhetoric and Hobby Lobby is not enjoying much public support. Think Progress’s Jessica Goldstein dropped by a store in Laurel, MD after the ruling to get reaction from shoppers:
Ken G.* walks out of the store with a bag and his engineering employee ID on a lanyard around his neck. “I sit with Ginsburg on it,” he said of the ruling. “I think we’re opening up Pandora’s box,” he said. “A lot of decisions about women aren’t made by women.” He is unenthusiastic as he says this, just matter-of-fact.
“To what level do we give people protections based on religious beliefs?” he asked. “And at what point do they subjugate other people’s religious beliefs?” He repeated what he said before, about who makes decisions for women. “And these are mostly patriarchal religions.”
If you feel so strongly about it, Ken, what are you doing shopping at Hobby Lobby? “It’s the only place within fifty miles of here that had what I needed.”
Sorry, Hobby Lobby, your own shoppers aren’t even buying it.