Obviously, the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Hobby Lobby to deny female employees prescription drug coverage for birth control pills has a dramatic impact on women’s health. But it poses plenty of troubling issues for men too. That’s because the premise underlying the decision views the rights of a “closely held” corporation as superior to the rights of an individual. And not just any right — the right of an individual to control his/her physical person.
Had the “public option” not been dropped from healthcare reform, we might not have this problem. But as long as the US expects employers to shoulder the primary responsibility for providing health insurance, this conflict of values will be a source of contention. If the Hobby Lobby owners choose to ignore scientific fact, viewing some forms of contraception as abortifacients, that’s their prerogative. But that’s no reason they should block an employee’s access to a particular type of medication. Hobby Lobby is, after all, merely a middleman in the health insurance supply chain.
The Hobby Lobby decision raises several pertinent questions for all people. Can a “closely held” corporation…
- Refuse to insure fertility treatments for men and women, since they interfere with divine will?
- Refuse to insure Viagra and similar drugs that encourage male sexual activity beyond a seemly age?
- Block procedures and medications to treat sexually transmitted diseases, clearly only contracted by the immoral and promiscuous?
- Discriminate against gay men? Perhaps their flouting of Leviticus disqualifies them from receiving healthcare altogether.
- Single out HIV and AIDS patients? (I wonder if one could get treatment on the condition that he or she proves the HIV was contracted via blood transfusion or another way that is acceptable to the employer.)
- Take this idea beyond healthcare? For instance, do the Christian consciences of Hobby Lobby’s owners exempt them from public accommodation laws?
Bottom line: Do you control your body? Or does your employer? Or the state, in the guise of five old men clinging to inherited privilege?
It’s an easy out for some to say, “If you don’t like it, don’t work for Hobby Lobby,” but that’s not the point. We’re on a slippery slope and there are 48 similar cases working their way through lower courts right now. As Justice Ginsberg wrote in her dissent, “The Court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”