Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The SCOTUS Hobby Lobby Decision

Erick Erickson trolls everyone ... 

The SCOTUS decision today ruled that, despite what Obamacare says, the Christian owned ("closely held") company can, in fact, decide that its company-provided insurance does not pay for 4 out of 20 contraception options because they are qualified as "abortificants" (meaning they terminate already fertilized eggs).

Twitter is either gloating or outraged. The Omnivore asks: What did you expect?? Both from this court and, you know, kinda in general.

What Happened?

As The Omnivore understands it (more or less): SCOTUS ruled that a "closely held company" can choose not to include ACA (Obamacare) mandated birth control as-covered by its insurance if there is a religious objection. This birth control applies to 4 specific kinds of birth control which they consider "abortifacients." These were two morning-after (emergency contraception pills) and two IUDs.

The costs of these are, respectively:
  • Emergency Contraception (Plan B): $45.00 (without Insurance)
  • IUD: Around $1000.00

What Now?

Clearly a lot of people are either very happy (Erick Erickson) or very unhappy (most liberals). There are a lot of larger questions out there (although the ruling is (a) super narrow and therefore (b) super political, it raises questions about how less mainstream religious objections to medical care might be treated / interpreted).  There is a lot of grousing about whether or not companies, even "closely held ones" can truly have religious beliefs while shielding the real-human owners from liability.

There are large-scope protests (if I don't like my tax dollars going to war, what then!?) and, finally, a recognition that we have dispensed with a lot of governing in this divided age in favor of judicial decision making (5-4! 4-5! The law of the land!).

What Exactly Is The Problem?

The Issue Isn't Exactly Hobby Lobby's Positon

The Omnivore is not savvy enough to have a for-real judicial-style opinion on the case: on one hand he is not especially sympathetic to the "My money won't pay for that" position once 'your money' gets mixed in with a lot of other people's money as it does in taxes and even 'closely held' corporations.

On the other hand, you do get to have standards and that's what courts are for: to let you have your say.

The Issue Isn't Exactly Birth Control Access In General

While the ruling may have problematic knock-on effects down the line, it also may not. Emergency contraception at ~45.00 isn't nothing--but it's also not the kind of expense most people are going to be having regularly. The IUD is a real issue but here's the list of commonalities:
At 3.5% usage it's a blow--but it's not catastrophic. As The Omnivore understands it, Hobby Lobby still covers The Pill.

The Issue Might Be Other Medical Conditions

From what The Omnivore has read, if you need an IUD or some other birth control for medical reasons beyond simple contraception, your doctor can proscribe and the insurance may cover it (The Omnivore isn't sure though, and can't find a clear cite). Hobby Lobby's insurance is supposed to cover hormonal treatment (beyond contraception)--but this looks murky.

It's also true that pregnancy is, yes, a medical condition and a lot of people think that splitting the difference between preventing that and having other medical issues is just philosophical (The Omnivore doesn't happen to agree--these seem to be very different categories--but he can see their point). If people need medicine for non 'abortificant' reasons and this ruling precludes access, they are caught in the crossfire.

The Real Problem

The real problem with the Hobby Lobby case and its eventual fall-out is that it's litigating the culture wars. The battle-field is the Supreme Court and the actual issues are (a) the legitimacy of the ACA to the American Religious Right and (b) the abortion wars. Both of these are now contested by means other than the ballot-box.

The plus side is that we get both arguments and explanations for each ruling--victory or defeat. The downside is that these battles are now beyond the reach of any average citizen. They are fought over decades of life-time appointments and become a luck-of-the-draw presidential proxy: it depends on whose side is in charge when a justice retires (and, also, on the confirmation process which, The Omnivore understands, will involve a live tiger and locked steel cage if Hillary wins in 2016).

This is not optimally functional and should not be papered over as such: no one finds decisions SCOTUS decisions they disagree with to be fully legitimate--see the ACA and "It's the Law of the Land." There's little reason they should: they do not carry the 'will of the people' in any direct bright-line fashion.

We also have chosen the least friendly spin on these decisions as a way to discuss them in the mass media: This is unquestionably the War on Women vs. the War on Religion. Basically? Nobody wins.

Watch It

No comments:

Post a Comment