Before Leaving for Summer, SCOTUS Made Hobby Lobby Ruling Even Worse
One small consolation after the Hobby Lobby ruling from the Supreme Court was that Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a very “narrow” opinion which would supposedly limit its impact. However it seems that before leaving for the summer, SCOTUS severely undermined those limitations.
The first came via an emergency order granted in a case brought by Wheaton College, an evangelical Protestant school in Illinois, which suggests that the very workaround praised in the Hobby Lobby ruling is in fact unconstitutional.
There exists a “workaround,” according to Slate, to the “birth control mandate” for churches and religious nonprofits. The organization filled out a simple form and then the insurance company or, in some cases, a third party would cover birth control. Women could have access to the medicine they and their doctors think is best, and their employers are not providing it.
However, Wheaton College argues that simply signing the form is tantamount to “providing the contraceptives themselves.” Apparently for their religious conscience to be settled, they have to actively stop their employees from obtaining this birth control. Also, according to Mother Jones, the court has ordered appeals courts to rehear certain birth-control cases, including one in which a Catholic-owned business seeks to prevent employees from getting any form of birth control.
What’s even more interesting is that these so-called abortion drugs are not abortifacients at all. According to the National Catholic Reporter, “There is only one drug approved to induce abortion. It is called RU-486 (mifepristone) and is not on the FDA’s list of approved contraception.” Ella, Plan B, and the two IUDs contested by Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College for being akin to abortion only work because they interrupt the fertilization process. Unless the religious are changing their argument to “Life begins before conception” then they have nothing to complain about.
Which is perhaps the scariest part of this whole issue: it’s all based on these folks’ beliefs about the drug, not what the drugs actually do. Hobby Lobby doesn’t object to the idea of contraception, but doesn’t want to pay for the four contested drugs because they believe they are abortifacients when in fact they aren’t. Justice Ginsburg’s “slippery slope” descent seems very prescient now.