I realize the Supreme Court’s decision on Hobby Lobby is tangentially related to a number of passionate opinions and beliefs. Everyone is free to disagree on many of the controversial issues. What no one is free to do, however, is to make up blatantly false facts about the ruling or Hobby Lobby itself.
I’m trying to be gracious in saying some of these may be myths. Wrong ideas can spread quickly through social media, as it did with false rumors about Pope Francis last year, so some people may be legitimately uninformed. But there are some who absolutely know the facts behind the case and are consciously choosing to deliver false information.
I honestly had to stop reading because I found too many false statements to address in one post. Either way, these seven widely-spread falsehoods need to be rejected by anyone seeking to know and speak the truth.
The Supreme Court just allowed Hobby Lobby to ban all birth control.
That would be impressive for a store that has yet to convince me that I should take up “crafting.” Suddenly, they have the ability to ban women across the United States from obtaining birth control.
But the reality is that Hobby Lobby wasn’t seeking such power, nor was the Supreme Court willing to grant it. In fact, the company only asked the court to allow them to not cover four specific types of birth control (out of the 20 FDA-approved types) that may prevent an already fertilized egg from implanting.
The court recognized the religious liberty of the owners to make such a decision, but it did so very narrowly. It stated their ruling was only in reference to religious beliefs about life beginning at conception in relation to those specific types of contraceptives.
In fact, before the ruling, Hobby Lobby was already covering 16 different birth control methods, which account for the types used by 93% of American women. They will continue to provide coverage for those 16 and will not (and cannot) prevent any employee from purchasing the other four types themselves.
All business owners can now stop covering these forms of birth control.
Actually, if you read the ruling, the Supreme Court limited this to closely held companies, basically small businesses or family-owned companies. Yes, Hobby Lobby is a large, national chain store, but they are owned and operated by the Green family, who have deeply held religious beliefs.
While not saying it explicitly, the court basically told large, publicly traded corporations that they would not be able to ask for and receive the same religious liberty protections.
Common sense, as well as the law, says there is a distinction between a gigantic company like Apple with divergent shareholders around the world and a business owned by a family who share similar values.
The religious freedom of the owners of the latter was recognized in the ruling, the court refused to extend the same to the former.
Religious owners can now refuse any type of medical treatment based on their beliefs.
Once again, the ruling specifically addresses this issue. Companies cannot take this and attempt to construe an ability to refuse coverage for things such as transfusions, vaccines or medical treatment in general.
The Supreme Court ruling is intentionally narrow to address only the four types of contraceptives being discussed in this specific case.
The government (or our boss) is now in our bedroom.
This seems to be an odd line of reasoning when the case centered around the government actually requiring both themselves and employers to be in the bedroom , as it were, through forced coverage of contraceptives.
I’m not sure I could respond better than this tweet from writer and political advisor Sean Davis:
“Get your politics out of my bedroom!” “Not a problem. I’m just going to grab my wallet before I leave.” “The wallet stays, bigot.”
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) June 30, 2014
The question is not about whether Hobby Lobby is in your bedroom, making birth control choices for you. The question is about whether the federal government has the right to force Hobby Lobby into your bedroom to pay for every form of birth control you may choose. Again, anyone can purchase any type of birth control they want right now – even if you work for Hobby Lobby – but the ruling prevents the government from requiring certain employers to pay for certain types.
Hobby Lobby is hypocritical because they do business in China.
That is a completely different (and much more complicated) discussion. But I’m not sure exactly why a lack of freedom there should dictate a loss of freedom here. The Greens may want to reconsider their relationship with Chinese vendors because of the government’s abhorrent human rights record, including forced abortions. They may decide that their conscious will not allow them to operate there. However, they may also come to the conclusion that their having a presence in China allows them to be a positive influence in that nation and on their government. I don’t know. I’m sure it is a difficult decision to make. But none of it has bearing on whether the United States government, which does recognize religious freedom, should have the ability to force business owners to violate their beliefs.
This is just another battle in the War on Women.
Here’s what Senator Harry Reid thought was a noteworthy point in this discussion:
It’s time that five men on the Supreme Court stop deciding what happens to women. — Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) June 30, 2014
Do I have to even go through the illogical reasoning at work here?
Does that mean rulings by female judges shouldn’t apply to men? Is he arguing for a “separate, but equal” Supreme Court for women?
By his own logic, shouldn’t we dismiss his opinion on the ruling, since he is, after all, a man? In the Senate, should he refuse to vote on any and all bills that may affect a woman?
This also ignores the women who were litigants in the case, arguing that their religious liberty was being trampled by the government.
As I frequently say in discussions surrounding abortion and pro-life issues, “Reason is no respecter of gender,” but apparently Harry Reid is no respecter of reason and logic.
Still others point out that Hobby Lobby covers things like Viagra, so this means …. who knows, but it makes an impressive talking point. Except, as we already discussed Hobby Lobby covers 16 of the 20 contraceptives for women.
But you know what they don’t cover – vasectomies or condoms. Does this mean they are engaged in a #WarOnMen?
The ruling jeopardizes the health of women.
I saved this for last because it has to be the most absurd assertion of all, but it is the one pushed by the White House itself. It’s so ridiculous that I have no idea how the spokesperson kept a straight face as they delivered that talking point.
It’s an absurd argument because it’s not really an argument. It’s merely an emotionally charged soundbite used to stir up political angst.
Not having your employer pay for your birth control is the equivalent of causing you to work in an asbestos-infested building or forcing you to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day?
Or how about food? Not having my employer pay for my food jeopardizes my health. I need to eat to stay healthy and live. How dare they not pay for my groceries? Except they do. That’s what my salary is for.
If the women who work for Hobby Lobby or other similar companies feel as if their health is dependent upon their employer paying for them to get the four specific types of birth control in question at no personal cost, they should by all means work somewhere else.
But I have a feeling that many of the women who work there support Hobby Lobby’s stance, of those who don’t the vast majority of them already have their birth control of choice covered, and of those who disagree and want to use one of the four methods not covered, Hobby Lobby pays extraordinarily well.
And do you know why they pay much higher than minimum wage for their employees? The same reason they do not want to pay for those four specific types of contraceptives – their religious convictions, which are thankfully protected.
UPDATE: Since some have asked about it and others have insinuated that I’m hiding this fact, I thought I would quickly address the idea that Hobby Lobby is hypocritical for “invested in pharmaceutical companies that make abortion drugs.” As this column at Forbes explains, this is a completely disingenuous argument because it ignores the reality of a 401(k).
401(k) plans are directed and invested by employees, not by employers. It’s the Hobby Lobby employees that would be disenfranchised by the twisted logic employed by Redden and Ungar here. They are the ones–not their bosses–who choose which mutual funds to invest in. This is true both of the employee’s elective deferral and the employer’s match.
Also, commenter Mrs. C. says she has some expertise on 401(k)s, of which I have none. She explains some about the plans and why this objection is “ridiculous.”
I reviewed the same documents that Mother Jones used to draw their conclusions about Hobby Lobby’s retirement plan. According to their DOL fillings their 401k Plan is a Multiple Employer plan. (Not to be confused with multi-employer plan) An MEP plan is where you have a number of un-related employers pooled together into one retirement plan and Hobby Lobby is probably just a Participating Employer of that plan. They would have no more discretion over the fund options in the plan than I would have the discretion to tell a commercial airlines pilot where to fly the plane to get me to my destination.
What other myths (or outright lies) have you seen about Hobby Lobby and the Supreme Court ruling?
Before you comment and/or accuse Hobby Lobby (and myself) of all manner of societal evils, read “Answers to All Your Hobby Lobby Questions” at Bloomberg View from Megan McArdle.
She answers many of the same myths I addressed here and virtually all of the most controversial ones that everyone has brought up in the comments, but does so with her experience in business and public policy.