Friday, July 4, 2014

Hobby Lobby

There's been a great deal of good writing and thought applied to the excrable Hobby Lobby decision. It's implications are many, and none are tentacles curling out towards hope, charity, or even liberty and freedom, two vague concepts which the American Right has pretty much converted into code for other somethings here on this fresh new Fourth of July. The great blog "The Gave Us a Republic" has a series of pieces up which cover many of the issues raised by Hobby Lobby. Lawyers, Guns and Money also offers quite a number of great reviews of the decision, and its implications. I think the following piece is my current favorite:

We ain't seen nuthin' yet

by: Blue Girl
Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 19:30:19 PM CDT

By @BginKC

Mark my words.

Both of the rulings today were against women. Women are the primary home health aides, and by making withholding membership dues from the checks of employees in unionized shops optional, the court, in effect, made the women who do those jobs wage slaves. They had one shot at a better life and better working conditions, and that was the solidarity that a unionized shop provided. That will soon start to fray under the bullying of managers - who are the real enemy of the working class, because they have been made, systematically, over the last thirty years, to believe that the only way they get to keep what they have is if they keep those they manage from taking it, when in reality those they manage aren't after what they have; they're after a share of the pie the folks cashing the checks from Medicare and Medicaid are feasting on, not the manager's tiny sliver that, in comparison, is really little better than the crumbs the workers they terrorize subsist on. And as long as the money-men have the managers convinced that their livelihood depends on winning the age-old game of "you-and-him-fight" they won't look at the gluttons feasting while the managers eat at the soup-and-salad joint and the workers pack a baloney sandwich for lunch.

Then there was the stinging offense of the Burwell v Hobby Lobby case. Basically, the Supreme Court decided this morning that any privately-held corporation I might work for is a person; but I'm not.

I'm past the age of contraception mattering in my life personally, but I have two daughters - only one of whom is fortunate enough to have been born a lesbian - and I have a granddaughter who is ten. The decision handed down today will affect her mother for the rest of her childbearing years, and it will affect her for all of hers.

But I can see a scenario in which I am affected, on a life-altering level, by today's ruling as well.

Let's look three or four years down the road. I have finished my graduate work, joined a practice and all is going well, then the practice sells. Let's say the new boss is an ultra-conservative Jew, and he files a challenge to the mandate that he provide health insurance that covers prescriptions that come in a gelatin capsule or coating. I take Celebrex, Gabapentin, and Lyrica in gelcaps. My prescription coverage right now is through the state of Missouri, not through the healthcare coverage I have because Tom was in the military. He does not have a full retirement, so we do not have full benefits. Prescription coverage was one of the things that we decided we could do without, because we had prescription coverage through my job.

What if, in that scenario, one of us needs a new heart valve? The best outcomes involve transplanting a valve from a pig. My theoretical future employer could challenge providing secondary coverage at the non-public heart institute that bookends the brain and stroke institute at St. Luke's, where I got such a remarkable outcome. If it comes down to making that decision for either one of us, fuck it, let them try to repo a heart valve, we're going to Luke's and making a good-faith payment on the balance for the rest of our lives.**

Now, in reality, am I likely to face this issue?

No. I'm a college graduate, a holder of more than one Bachelor's Degree, I'm about to have a Master's, and I'm on my way to a PhD. The odds are really low that I will ever have to face ignorance and right-wing authoritarianism dressed up as religious liberty in my field. I am a scientist, after all, so we work and live in a world that is ruled by evidence and reason rather than ideology and dogma. You don't hire someone like me off Craig's list or from the classifieds, and you sure as hell don't get pissy over what the health insurance package I get will and won't cover. It will be a Cadillac package, and it will cover everything without question.

My daughter has resources to access contraception, and if she didn't, I would help her, if not financially then with my medical connections, and the same goes for my granddaughter. But this isn't about us - not yet, anyway. It's about women who have no choice but to work the shit-jobs at Hobby Lobby and other low-wage soul-sucking hell-holes that feel entitled to control every aspect of their low-wage workers' lives. They have to piss in a cup to get the shit-job to begin with, then they have to submit to the will of their boss what healthcare services they can access? Fuck that. I will never buy another stencil as long as I live, and I hope that picket lines spring up outside their stores like they were abortion clinics.

Then you have the flip side of the coin. St. Luke's, the hospital where I was a patient in the Brain and Stroke Institute and where I have also been an employee in a supervisory capacity -- is owned and operated by the Seventh Day Adventists, who are personally vegetarians, but the dietary services of the Plaza campus serves the most delicious Yankee Pot Roast and Chicken Marsalla I've ever had that I didn't either pay $15.99 for or eat at my Nana's house. They even do a good meatloaf. When I was a patient for three weeks, Tom gained ten pounds.

My point is, the hospital that fixed my fucking brain has a hell of a lot more ground to stand on to make the claim Hobby Lobby made - but they have the decency not to make it.

As Blue Girl notes implicitly, the Hobby Lobby decision also carries implications for what being a Christian, or even a religious or ethical person, is--implications that are in fact slanderous. No where in the Hobby Lobby doctrine can empathy or love be found. Only hardness, coldness, and authoritarianism.

In another post at Republic it is pointed out that even judging by its own actions, the Hobby Lobby Corporation does not practice the alleged religious conviction is now has the legally justified right to preach and act on. While the company may now deny its employees mandated access to contraceptives, it continues to invest heavily in other corporations which actually manufacture the contraceptives in moral question. Possibly worse, Hobby Lobby buys much of its own merchandise from manufacturers in China, a country which maintains a one-child-per-family policy by the liberal use of abortion and contraception practices, in some cases in what amounts to government coercion. No problem for Hobby Lobby in these cases.

One can only hope that these appalling decisions will eventually result in political decisions here in America. The party that appoints these right wing justices is gleeful waiting for the chance to appoint more of them. Democrats may not be great, but it was Democrats who appointed the four justices who offered credible dissent from a decision which is almost anti-law in its internal logic. Another election is coming up.


Saturday Update: Libby steered me to the following remarks of then-Senator Obama, concerning Chief Justice John Roberts, whom he was then considering for appointment to the Supreme Court:

...I was impressed [by Roberts]. The problem I had is that when I examined Judge Roberts' record and history of public service. It is my personal estimation that he has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak. In his work in the White House and in the Solicitor General's Office, he seemed to have consistently sided with those who were dismissive of efforts to eradicate the remnants of racial discrimination on our political process. In these same positions, he seemed dismissive of the concerns that it is harder to make it in this world and in this economy when you are woman rather than a man.... I ultimately have to give more weight to his deeds and the overarching political philosophy that he appears to have shared with those in power than to the assuring words that he provided me in our meeting. The bottom line is this: I will be voting against John Roberts' nomination. Sen. Barack Obama, Sept. 2005


  1. .. the strong in opposition to the weak. ... that's it, isn't it?

  2. The more one thinks about this decision, the worse the possibilities become. I'm bothered a lot by the implication that this repressive, authoritarian policy might be viewed as more definitional of what Christianity is. That's one thing I liked about that Blue Girl post--her hospital didn't practice such authoritarianism. Religious persons really ought to object to this decision as a slander of what religion really is.