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“Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe that they can take us at our word. Not so today.” – Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Oh Hobby Lobby, what a stir you have caused in my psyche, and we’ve never even met.
I do feel compelled to tell you that while I am generally not an angry person, there are some issues that make me, well, ANGRY. And I’m super angry at you, Hobby Lobby, as well as Mardel Christian and Educational Supply (Mardel) and Conestoga Wood Specialties (Conestoga), your comrades-in-arms in the fight against women and their reproductive rights. The United States Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in your favor to allow certain for-profit corporations, where five or fewer people hold over half of the stock of the company, and also hold “sincere beliefs” that they interpret to be in conflict with federally mandated healthcare obligations, regardless of how certain medical procedures or prescribed medications actually work, to deny their workers access to certain categories of healthcare… well, that really, REALLY pissed me off.
If you have followed my previous posts, you already know that I’m a statistics and data junkie. I thrive on that shit. Science and facts rule! So I’ve done my research, sifted through countless articles and op-ed pieces and I have done my best to track down the statements, facts, the how-stuff-actually-works information so I can offer you my thoughts, backed with yes, SCIENCE and FACTS.
First, the basic facts: Hobby Lobby, along with Mardel and Conestoga, objected to being responsible for four types of Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved contraceptives, which include two categorized as Emergency Contraceptives (most commonly known as “Plan B”, but also includes “ella”) and two categorized as intrauterine devices (IUDs), which are known as Paragard and Mirena or Skyla. The Supreme Court decision, which allows the companies listed above to deny coverage for those contraceptives, was approved by five men who sit on the court, and was met with strong dissent by the three women Supreme Court Justices.
Second, let’s discuss why Hobby Lobby objected to certain forms of birth control: yes, it was “only” four out of the twenty forms of birth control mandated by the Affordable Care Act. Hobby Lobby et al, citing their religious views, deems these forms of contraception “abortifacients”, and therefore in direct conflict with their religious beliefs.
Honestly, I’d never heard the term “abortifacients” prior to two weeks ago. I had to go look up as many definitions of the word as I could find to make sure I understood the term correctly. In case you are as ignorant as I was, the definition of “abortifacient” is: that which causes an abortion. Which is defined as the disruption/termination of a pregnancy.
I also researched the term “pregnancy”. And prevailing governmental, health organization and science (oh yes, there’s science!) define pregnancy as: the fertilization of an egg by sperm, and the implantation into the uterine lining. That is when pregnancy starts. Am I clear? The fertilized egg implanted in the uterus is when pregnancy occurs.
Third, let’s discuss how these two categories/four types of birth control work:
The IUD works as follows: It is a device that is implanted in a woman’s uterus, and alters the cervical lining and prevents sperm from connecting with egg, thereby preventing pregnancy. No sperm connecting with egg = no pregnancy.
Emergency Contraception works to prevent ovulation. No ovulation = no sperm connecting with egg = no pregnancy. Plan B also can work by disrupting the ability of sperm and egg to meet in the fallopian tubes. No sperm connecting with egg, again = no pregnancy
As a fact sheet from Princeton simply states:
Emergency Contraception pills will not cause an abortion.
So here is my opinion regarding these two methods of birth control: NEITHER OF THEM RESULT IN TERMINATION OF A PREGNANCY.
They are all forms of prevention. If sperm doesn’t meet egg, and there is no implantation in the uterus, then no pregnancy, then no “abortion” of a pregnancy.
So these “abortifacients”? Puh-lease.
While we are at it, let me lay out some of the non-contraceptive benefits of the IUD:
According to the Medical News Today website, the hormonal IUD (Mirena) is approved for the treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding in more than 80 countries (not including the US).
Also, “IUD use among women is associated with a 40% reduction in the risk of endometrial cancer, similar to the cancer protection provided by oral contraceptives, yet many clinicians are not aware of that,” said Dr. Grimes (David A. Grimes, MD, of Chapel Hill, NC). For treating endometriosis, the hormonal IUD is an alternative to leuprolide acetate injections or a ‘watch and wait’ approach (to see if the pain improves by itself). Another emerging use for the hormonal IUD is treating endometrial hyperplasia, a condition in which there is abnormal overgrowth of the endometrium.”
Fourth: “sincere beliefs”. I have a huge issue with this one. Because certain religious factions feel that women should have less control over their bodies than corporations, and now that corporations can be considered “people”, free to exercise their religious beliefs, then they can deny their employees healthcare coverage. Because they believe, so hard.
My 8-year old once believed that her stuffed lamb talked, with as much conviction as Hobby Lobby people believe in their interpretation of their religion. Talk about a slippery slope, should Lambie ever incorporate.
Fifth: The financial burden on women whose employers are able to deny them access to the federally mandated minimal healthcare.
I read one article that stated:
“It’s safe to say that Hobby Lobby employees, who made 93% above the minimum wage paid at similar jobs would be able to afford to pay for the abortifacient drugs with the generous pay they receive should that need and desire arise for an individual.”
“Generous pay”?? What, are checkout clerks now making CEO salaries? Let’s break this down. Hobby Lobby does pay a minimum wage that is 93% above what is legally mandated, absolutely, no question. Their minimum wage is $14.00 per hour, which works out to roughly $29,000 a year, based on an assumed 40-hour week. Take state and federal taxes out of that salary, and what is left is an annual take home salary of approximately $20,000.
$20,000 hardly seems like the salary on which the average person could live extravagantly in the United States. $20,000 is less than $300 above what is considered the poverty line for a family of 3. Then there are all of the expenses a person does or may have to consider paying for: rent or mortgage, transportation, food, clothing, utilities and daycare, to name a few. Think about how much money you spend on all of these costs per year? Would you have an extra $1,000 in your pocket to spend on birth control like an IUD?
The pro-Hobby Lobby articles seem to tout endlessly that they are closed on Sundays, thereby giving all of their employees that day off. Is that really generous? Is that really a benefit to their employees? My take is that it burdens the working class and their own employees, by eliminating a day that people can shop at the store, as well as eliminating a day that employees can work.
It is one of my sincerely held beliefs that the Supreme Court screwed up in a SUPREME way. I sincerely believe women should have access to healthcare adequate enough to at least meet minimum government standards, which would include emergency contraception and IUDs. And I sincerely believe once we start parsing out what categories of prescriptions and healthcare are available for women based on the ambiguous concept of “sincerely held beliefs”, then women become less than whole people, while corporations are afforded more and better rights as individuals than their employees.
And I sincerely believe THAT is complete bullshit.