Many Are Missing the Point of Today’s Hobby Lobby Decision

heart_pills_whiteToday the US Supreme Court ruled in the controversial “Hobby Lobby Case” that the government has no authority to require closely-held companies to provide, at their expense, free birth control to women. We see it as a small victory for freedom.

From this ruling, various political movements on either side of the issue have found a victory or a rallying call. Pro-life groups see it as a ruling in their favor. Liberal women’s groups professing a conservative “war on women” have used it as a call to vote in November’s elections or donate money.

As we said a little over 2 years ago, the idea of a “right to birth control” means that people have a right to purchase or a right to use birth control. It does NOT mean that someone else has to pay for it so you can have it for free.

The Hobby Lobby case was about that very question. Should the owners of Hobby Lobby have to pay for employees to have birth control coverage that included some methods of birth control that the company’s owners found to be against their religious beliefs?

The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) mandates that employer-provided health insurance must cover a variety of medical services. For example, for birth control alone, the law required employers who pay for employee coverage to cover “at no cost” some 20 different methods of birth control. Hobby Lobby’s owners objected to 4 such methods. (More on “at no cost” in a moment.)

And that is where the progressives charge in. Their righteous indignation and vitriol at the Hobby Lobby ruling is only starting:

Wendy Davis, Democrat candidate for the Texas governor’s seat: “Today’s disappointing decision to restrict access to birth control puts employers between women and their doctors.”

Lena Dunham and Sandra Fluke:

Even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her dissenting opinion used terms like “radical,” “havoc,” “startling breadth,” and “minefield,” perhaps displaying her own limited intellectual capacity to grasp the concepts of freedom and individual responsibility.

All invoke an image of a greedy male cigar-clad fat cat sitting in the corner of the exam room of his helpless female employee’s doctor visit in order to snatch away her birth control pills. If only he would just let her have them!

People like Wendy Davis, Sandra Fluke, and Lena Dunham don’t want you to realize that many forms of birth control can be obtained inexpensively–with some methods, depending on circumstances, being paid for completely by private foundations. US News & World Report put together this survey the last time the issue bubbled over in 2012. Liberal progressives want you to think that the only way a woman can get birth control is for the government to require someone else to give it to them for free.

This begs the question, is this issue truly about birth control, or is it about power? Suppose Hobby Lobby were to increase the paychecks of their employees by an amount equal to what the average birth control method would cost. The employee would then be free to purchase said birth control or use the money for something that was more important to him or her. (Yes, that’s right, men would get the increase too.) But we doubt that would be satisfactory to the Sandra Flukes of the world.

To us this seems to be as anti-freedom as it gets. Convincing women that they need to be dependent on someone else to give them free stuff that is available in the marketplace should be offensive.

What of the Hobby Lobby employee? There is no law or other government edict or executive order or action handed down by a pen and a phone that requires a female (or male!) employee to continue working at Hobby Lobby. If coverage of the 4 types of birth control that Hobby Lobby doesn’t want to cover is important to those individuals, they are free to seek employment with another company that does provide health insurance covering such services.

Hobby Lobby is also accountable to its customers. If they feel Hobby Lobby is treating its workforce unfairly, they are free to send their comments to the company or even shop elsewhere if they want to send a stronger message. Decisions have consequences, and Hobby Lobby is not immune from the consequences of its decisions.

We don’t know what the outcome will be for Hobby Lobby. Will its employees and customers support the bold decision to challenge the government’s health law? Will employees quit en masse to work for another company? Will customers flock to other craft supply stores?

Because people are free to interact (lawfully of course) with their employers and stores in a manner they see fit, we don’t know the exact consequence for Hobby Lobby of today’s Supreme Court action. But we do know one thing: Government can’t guarantee free birth control without controlling people. They can’t promise free stuff with one hand without taking the other and using it to force someone else to make it or to pay for it and give it away. The Sandra Flukes of the world would have us think that the Affordable Care Act provides free birth control and that this is something that must be fought for in order to maintain. But is it really free?

The Daily Caller reported in April that Morgan Stanley surveyed health insurance issuers earlier this year about the cost increases of health insurance policies. Not surprisingly, it is one of the largest annual price spikes (of nearly four times the previous annual growth rate) in recent years as the regulatory impact of Obamacare has become known to insurers. Before Obamacare was implemented, women using birth control pills likely had a co-pay or co-insurance fee.

When this charge disappeared, liberal progressives gleefully pointed out this fact, hoped for votes and campaign contributions, and decried a Republican “war on women” at any attempt to limit or change the arrangement. But birth control wasn’t free before Obamacare, and the unfortunate news is that despite the best-laid plans of progressives, birth control pills are still not free. As the super-sized annual insurance premium increases show, instead of a co-pay, now you just have to pay for birth control pills up front in your annual policy premium whether you use them or not.

If you think the 4 forms of birth control that Hobby Lobby objects to are a key concern, then write the company and vow to do all of your craft supply shopping elsewhere (and follow through! Alternatively, you could give up your crafting habit and donate these funds to one of the organizations that provides free birth control to women). Conversely, if you strongly agree that Hobby Lobby is doing the right thing, then let them know that too and do all your craft supply shopping there. If the issue is not of high importance to you, then shop at whichever craft supply store offers the best coupons or weekly ad deals. This is the essence of freedom, and that is a beautiful thing.