(This is a parallel post that goes along with: The Scariness of Religious Power in the Hobby Lobby Abortion Case)
We all have fears of the government ruling over us as dictators, do we not? We see dictators and communist systems of our past and present, along with sci-fi movies and thriller novels based around these sorts of power-abusing, censorship-laden regimes, and cringe at the notion of a government removing our freedom rather than existing for it.
There’s plenty to be scared about in the recent Hobby Lobby abortion/contraceptive case when it comes to the abuse of power, both governmental and religious (which is what my parallel post is about).
The recent Hobby Lobby court ruling surrounding contraception, abortion and mandated health care presents another murky situation where we as a society are trying to determine the boundaries of governmental authority, religious freedom and personal conviction.
I just read an article by Richard Wolf in today’s USA Today which helped catch me up to speed on the story. An abbreviated version of the print article can be found here.
The article draws the battle lines quickly and clearly in the first sentence: The Supreme Court put religious freedom above reproductive rights Monday…
Is abortion a reproductive right?
All throughout the article, and throughout this greater dialogue, this debate is called a debate over “contraceptives.” The dictionary definition of a contraceptive states that it is (of a method or device) serving to prevent pregnancy. Once someone is already pregnant, say the morning after they have sex, should the term “contraceptive” still be used, or should a different term be used instead?
Reading Wolf’s article and listening to the social media noise around this story reminded me a lot of the February 2014 news buzz around the Arizona court’s ruling of what was called the “Anti-Gay” Bill SB1062. In a blog post I did on that story, I tried to point out the scary part of both sides of the argument, as well as how finding a third view between the two polarizing extremes would benefit everyone moving forward.
I find the same to be true in the Hobby Lobby case. What I find amazingly similar about both of these debates is the black and white nature of them. You are told by the other side what you are and what you aren’t and you’re either for us or against us. This seems to be the popular strategy of the day when it comes to arguing for a controversial issue: Take something that everyone agrees on, then glue your highly-debated issue with the universally agreed upon on issue, then proclaim to everyone how they are exactly the same.
The gay rights movement did this by saying “Gay is the New Black”, equating gay rights with those of the African American Civil Rights movement. We universally agree that what happened to blacks in American history was egregiously wrong. So it’s a highly effective debate strategy by the gay rights movement to convince people that their plight is the same as the one we already find egregiously wrong. There has definitely been oppression in both cases, but to call them the same is diminishing and disrespectful to the uniqueness of both people groups. They are two very different histories with a slew of different very significant variables so we need to treat them as such. Clumping them together is lazy and unfair.
It’s interesting to see the same strategy being used in the Hobby Lobby case.
The liberal side of this debate is making their point that women have the right to contraceptives and that businesses cannot deprive them of such. Excluding a small minority, the vast majority of Christians would wholeheartedly agree with this statement, as would pretty much all of American society as a whole.
But is that really what Hobby Lobby is making a fuss over?
No, of course not, but isn’t it convenient to make it sound like it is?
Hobby Lobby’s objection is that in their mind, the government is forcing them to pay for abortions.
With abortion being a very separate thing from contraceptives which prevent pregnancy from ever happening.
Think about that for a second. Even if you’re pro-choice, think about that statement.
It’s one thing to make something legal and give people the freedom to choose it for themselves, it’s entirely another to force someone to pay for something they think is morally wrong, that ~50% of our country also thinks is morally wrong.
Essentially, the government is telling business owners: You are no longer allowed to decide your morals for yourself, we will define them for you, and if you choose to disobey us, we will fine the hell out of you ($475 million annually in Hobby Lobby’s case). And I wonder what the government would do if Hobby Lobby refused to pay those fines!
If that doesn’t scare you, it should!
Even if you’re pro-choice and you strongly disagree with me on the topic of abortion, try to see past the topic in question to see the bigger principle trying to be laid out by our government…
“President Obama believes that women should make personal health care decisions for themselves, rather than their bosses deciding for them,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. He did not rule out Obama using his own authority to address the contraception ruling.
Again, we have taken “abortion” and added it to”personal health care decisions.” As if bosses were telling women what brand of toothpaste to use or which Pharmacy to shop at. Abortion and toothpaste are not the same thing! It is lazy and unfair to clump them together.
Deal with abortion on its own. It is a big enough beast to get plenty of attention all by itself, without the liberal side having to tuck it behind softer and more palatable issues in an effort to sneak it by without anyone seeing it. Put abortion on its own two feet and duke it out in the political spheres allotted to us in a democracy. Anything besides that is inauthentic, ineffective, and sets the precedence for a lot of future problems.
You realize that many Christians will go to jail before paying for someone to have an abortion? That’s going to look great in the media and for our country’s unity.
If the government can force business owners to provide abortions for their employees, what else will they be able to force them to do? Get GPS microchips implanted in them?
What I’m saying is that abortion is such a polarizing issue in our political world, it needs to be given the respect it deserves. Providing health care for those who don’t have it is a noble concept, but be smart about it. Realize that foundational health care and abortions cannot and should not be clumped together as if you can’t have former without the latter. If you try to do this, you’re asking for a fight. The executives at Hobby Lobby have given you the exact fight you were looking for, and according to the Supreme Court, you lost.
It really doesn’t need to be this way.
But sadly our obsession with the “you’re either for us or against us” mentality of polarizing has gotten us here once again.
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