UPDATE: Arguments made today at Supreme Court reported by SCOTUSblog
The Hobby Lobby anti-contraceptives case is being heard by the Supreme Court today. Religious leaders who oppose the Hobby Lobby position are speaking out:
… a decision in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties would be rife with the potential for abuse. What court is wise enough to determine whether a corporation claiming to operate according to religious scruples is resisting a law for economic or ideological reasons? What conviction, no matter how baseless, cannot be wrapped in the protective cloak of faith?
An employer granted the rights that the plaintiffs in this case seek could play the determinative role in the most important decisions that individuals make about their health and well-being. Poor people would suffer most in a society in which employers exercise more influence than doctors over health-care decisions, and few would suffer as much as poor women, who would be economically unable to exercise their right to politically contested health services such as contraception, abortion, and infertility treatment.
The attempt to exclude contraceptive care from the Affordable Care Act is another step in asserting that entities — not even individuals but entities — have rights that trump those of women and their families. Women of means can often afford to override incursions on their liberty by paying out of pocket to exercise their right to plan their families. But without the kind of health coverage provided by the ACA, many poor women cannot do so. If the high court rules that corporations have the right to restrict the health coverage they offer to employees on religious grounds, then these women will be de facto denied a right that the courts have said they hold, and that more affluent women exercise every day.
Cheryl Anderson at Religion News Service says the premise behind the Hobby Lobby case is bad theology:
Christians should be looking for ways to extend these benefits to all women and all communities. As people who practice a faith that values justice, we must be troubled by the fact that the rate of unplanned pregnancies among poor women is five times higher than it is among women whose incomes are 200 percent or more above the federal poverty level, and we should be moved to help spread the benefits of reproductive health care more broadly. This is what the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act seeks to do. However, its opponents are seeking to poke the mandate so full of holes that the very women who need this coverage most will not receive it.
This is not only poor policy, but also poor theology. Nothing in the Christian tradition requires that we deny poor women health benefits and services that are readily available to the rest of society. Nothing in the Christian tradition suggests that an employer’s scruples deserve greater consideration than an employee’s health. Instead, the words of Jesus warn us against placing heavy burdens on the backs of those least able to bear them.
At USAToday Bishop Gene Robinson writes:
Today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments by Hobby Lobby, a nationwide chain of craft stores, asking the court for the right to discriminate against their employees who are entitled to reproductive health care under the Affordable Care Act. I know that Hobby Lobby’s owner family, the Greens, are deeply religious people, and I respect their beliefs. They object to certain forms of birth control, claiming they constitute abortion (a “fact” disputed by much of the medical community). The Greens claim that corporations, through their owners, have freedom of religion — a very slippery slope. But should the entire company and its 14,000 employees be held hostage by the beliefs of its owners?
Transcripts will be here
Photo courtesy of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill