The Supreme Court has decided to hear Hobby Lobby’s appeal for protection against Obamacare’s coercive abortion mandate. As I noted yesterday, Obamacare imposes crippling fines on employers who will not purchase insurance plans that cover contraceptives and abortifacient drugs. Hobby Lobby is run by a Christian family, and they have said that paying for chemical abortions violates their most deeply held beliefs. And so the owners have made an appeal to the courts for protection from Obamacare’s coercive violation of their religious liberty.
A day after the announcement, it is clear that many people simply do not understand what this case is about. And there are many who seem to be perpetrating an outright misrepresentation. The misrepresentation goes something like this. “Hobby Lobby is trying to deny women access to contraceptives. Hobby Lobby is trying to force their religious beliefs on their employees.” Neither of these claims is true.
But that hasn’t kept high-ranking officials in the Obama administration from spreading the lie. In a piece for The Huffington Post yesterday, senior adviser to President Obama Valerie Jarrett wrote this:
Today, there are people trying to take this right away from women, by letting private, for-profit corporations and employers make medical decisions for their employees, based on their personal beliefs.
A group of for-profit companies are currently suing to gain the right to deny employees access to coverage for birth control and contraceptive care, which are used by the overwhelming majority of American women in their lifetimes. Among the first cases to reach the Supreme Court is one filed by Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts chain whose owners want to be able to take the option for birth control benefits away from their employees.
There are so many falsehoods in this statement that it’s difficult to know where to start. No one is trying to “take away” a person’s “right” to purchase contraceptives. Nor is anyone trying to “deny employees access to coverage.” These claims are outright, demonstrable untruths. There’s nothing in Hobby Lobby’s suit that would deny any person the freedom to purchase contraceptives or insurance coverage for those devices.
This case is not about a woman’s “right” to purchase contraceptives and abortifacient drugs. This case is about who will be forced to pay for them. President Obama believes that the federal government has a right to force Christian employers to pay for contraceptives and abortifacient devices. Hobby Lobby is simply saying that they cannot in good conscience pay for those things.
What about the claim that Hobby Lobby is “forcing its religion on its employees”? Again, this is a fundamental misunderstanding of what’s going on here. Employees are still free in this country to buy contraceptives and abortifacient drugs. They are not free to expect Christians and other people of conscience to pay for them. Hobby Lobby’s desire not to pay for their employees’ contraceptives is hardly “forcing” their religion onto them. Anyone who thinks that it is is either severely confused or cynically dishonest.
Somehow the reporting on this story is upside down. Contrary to what you may have read, the employees of Hobby Lobby are not being denied or coerced in any way. Hobby Lobby, however, is. The federal government is trying to coerce the owners of Hobby Lobby into violating their most deeply held religious beliefs. To miss that is to miss the point entirely.