Thursday, July 03, 2014

Finding Common Ground: SCOTUS Hobby Lobby Decision

There's been a whole swirl about the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision that compelled me to put some slightly disjointed thoughts down on the keyboard. I originally posted this on Facebook and got a bajillion comments, all very well-thought out and civil.  That gave me some hope.  As stable as we are politically that controversial occurrences like these do not devolve into rioting and senseless death, we seem to have lost our mutual respect and ability to debate an issue without resorting to personal attack and bloviating.  At least, I'm sure that's what space aliens must think from watching the plethora of news discussion shows that bombard us.  For whatever reason, the ability of Americans to find common ground.  I generally steer clear from wading into the cesspool of politically charged arguments and try to avoid wearing my politics on my sleeve/Facebook wall.  My preference is to deliberately consider all sides and have an intelligent discussion rather than get into shouting matches with people who refuse to listen to a carefully considered argument.  A good friend of mine whose writing I highly regard encouraged me to publish these thoughts as an op-ed.  Without ranting or being overtly partisan, here's some food for thought for those of you on both sides of the aisle:
1. Many women are prescribed oral contraceptives for medical reasons like severe cramps, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, premenstrual dysmorphia, etc. Many of these are serious conditions that are alleviated by the pill, allowing those afflicted to improve their health and potentially prevent losing their reproductive organs and therefore their fertility. I would hope that someone who is truly Christian would not jump to a conclusion that a woman on the pill does so simply for "recreational behavior" as Sen Lee from Utah stated, and would have compassion for someone's suffering.
2. Many married people use birth control, not just singles. Face facts, being able to plan a family by more reliable means than "the rhythm method" can be beneficial for both spouses. It's one of the factors that has allowed developed nations to achieve the prosperity they currently enjoy.
3. If you don't like Hobby Lobby's business practices, vote with your wallet and your feet. It is a for-profit company. Hit it where it hurts: don't work, shop nor invest there. There are many companies out there that have different policies. That's the beauty of living in one of the largest economies in the world. Do your homework. And if you agree, you are free to patronize them. Let the free markets sort it out.
4. Hobby Lobby invests in pharma companies that produce oral contraception. So it's ok to make money off of them, but not to allow employees to make a private decision with their doctor to use them. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone....

5. The four contraceptives in question are not proven scientifically to prevent implantation and work to prevent fertilization instead. Therefore they are not technically abortifacients. There is still the potential for implantation after taking these drugs if conception has occurred.  Yes, many people (including myself) believe that a life begins at the moment of conception.  Ask anyone struggling with IVF or other infertility treatment, and they will tell you that a fertiilized egg still has a difficult journey ahead between implantation and gestation to become truly "viable" 
6. Yes, the decision is structurally correct in the spirit of the interpretation of the law.  Judge Alito states that “it seems unlikely” that publicly held “corporate giants” would make religious liberty claims. However, his majority decision has kicked open the floodgates ifor a potential deluge of claims of religious freedom and violation of the RFRA by corporations on any number of hot button issues-vaccines, domestic partnerships, blood transfusion, organ transplantation, etc. It's a slippery slope. It's potentially good business for the appellate lawyers who argue these cases, but it could lead to a huge waste in taxpayer dollars for these cases to be heard.  It also raises concerns on where a corporate body's religious liberties end and an individual employee's begin.  Will we as a society become one where only Catholics work for Catholics, evangelicals for evangelicals, etc.?  It frightens me that we may self-segregate the way some neighborhoods in cities like Mumbai have.  One of the things I am proudest of living here is that people here are free to pray (or not) in whatever way they please, and we are all jumbled together.