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A troubling situation for women around the world. No thanks to religion. :P Go here for a bigger version, thank you NeuroNotes.
Update: Highlights from dissenting judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg [page 60 of the Document].
1. “Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.”
2. “Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”
3. “Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.”
4. “The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage”
5. “Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.”
6. “It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”
7. “Even if one were to conclude that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga meet the substantial burden requirement, the Government has shown that the contraceptive coverage for which the ACA provides furthers compelling interests in public health and women’s well being. Those interests are concrete, specific, and demonstrated by a wealth of empirical evidence.”
8. “The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.”
9. “Suppose an employer’s sincerely held religious belief is offended by health coverage of vaccines, or paying the minimum wage, or according women equal pay for substantially similar work?”
10. “The Court does not even begin to explain how one might go about ascertaining the religious scruples of a corporation where shares are sold to the public. No need to speculate on that, the Court says, for ‘it seems unlikely’ that large corporation ‘will often assert RFRA claims.’”
As an OB/GYN I see six disastrous consequences of this decision:
1) The idea that religious beliefs of some are more important that the religious beliefs of others. Any woman wanting to use one of the 4 methods of contraception listed obviously doesn’t share the same beliefs as the closely held corporation who employs her. Why are her beliefs less important? Why can her place of employment push their religious beliefs (because a place of employment now has the rights of an individual) into the exam room? The First Amendment rights of women seeking health care are less important that the First Amendment rights of a corporation. Thank you Justice Alito for putting us in our place.
2) Legislating a belief over science. The 4 methods of contraception that Hobby Lobby takes issue with are Plan B, Ella, and the two IUDs, ParaGard and Mirena. We call these methods contraceptives not abortifacients because in science, unlike the Supreme Court, we like facts and facts tell us that these methods do not cause abortion (which is by definition the disruption of a pregnancy that is already implanted, no matter how early). But even if we take the evangelical definition of pregnancy (the wandering fertilized egg) we know for sure Plan B has no effect because it biochemically impossible for a progestin in that dose (or probably any dose) to prevent pregnancy by any definition, scientific or otherwise. The bulk of the medical evidence suggests that the two IUDs in the United States do not prevent a fertilized egg from implanting and the same goes for Ella. We can’t say with 100% accuracy because there is no easily accessible test to tell us that a fertilized egg is wandering aimlessly around the upper reproductive tract and so the information comes from indirect methods like studying the mechanisms of action in lab and animal models and studies that have looked at the time of the cycle that the method is used. Science is fact and apparently facts don’t matter to the Supreme Court. Good to know.
3) A slippery slope for other contraceptives. If you believe the untruth that Plan B (a progestin) causes abortion (by any definition, evangelical or scientific) then all hormonal contraceptives should be excluded for sexually active women as they all contain progestins. Quick start pill taking (starting the birth control pill the day you get them versus waiting for your period) is very common and improves compliance, however, if you share the magical belief that progestins could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting then all oral contraceptives have to go, otherwise every time a woman starts her pills mid cycle a baby might die (never mind the possibility of escape ovulation). Hey, if you want to pervert science you can go down any rabbit hole.
4) A slippery slope for other medical practices that infringe on religious beliefs. Vaccinations, psychiatric care, blood transfusions, and infertility care are all opposed by some religions. While Alito wrote that this decision is “very specific” meaning that it only applies to these four contraceptives in this specific situation, it is somewhat naive (or obtuse or insulting, depending on your perspective) to think that other groups might also have”sincerely held religious beliefs.” Justice Ginsberg voiced concerns about these broader implications in her dissent, after all there is real money to be saved in carving out health care based on what a religion allows. Since case-law is integral to the US legal system what is to stop a closely held corporation owned by a Jehovah’s Witness from suing to exclude transfusions and organ transplants? If the court were to say “no” to a Jehovah’s Witness corporation (as Alito’s statement implies) they would be saying that only evangelical Christian beliefs are important and only a woman’s reproduction deserves to be controlled.
5) That contraception isn’t really health care. This legislation fuels the belief that contraceptives are, to paraphrase that wordsmith Rush Limbaugh, “slut pills.” It perpetuates the idea that sex is wrong or only for procreation, when sex is a normal part of life and people who have active sex lives tend to be healthier and live longer. In addition, the benefits of contraception in the health and longevity for women is undisputed. According to the World Health Organization “Women’s and adolescents’ right to contraceptive information and services is grounded in basic human rights. Paying for contraception is no different from paying for vaccinations, diabetes care, or an appendectomy.
6) Restricting access to IUDs increases the risk of unplanned pregnancies and thus paradoxically the rate of abortion. As an IUD costs about $900 (or as Ginsberg pointed out, about a month’s salary for a minimum wage worker). IUDs are by far the most effective method of contraception and they have been shown to reduce the rate of abortions. Fewer IUDs means more methods with higher failure rates.
The message from the five male justices of the Supreme Court who felt it was within their purview to opine on women’s health care yet ignore medical facts (which I hope was presented as evidence) is chilling. The religious beliefs of privately held corporations are definitely not insubstantial, but the rights of women most certainly are.
Reasons For The Lowered Abortion Rate
- Available birth control
- Lessened stigma on birth control
- More education about birth control
- More comprehensive sex education than the past
Things That Barely (If At All) Lowered Abortion Rates:
- Pro-Life harassment and violence
- Sidewalk protesting
- Restricting abortions
- Banning abortions
Things That Will Continue To Lower Abortion Rates:
- Even more comprehensive sex education
- Even better birth control options
- Less stigma on sex, sex ed, and birth control
- More birth control options for those without a uterus
- Available and affordable (or free) birth control
- Abortion is not evil.
- Abortion is a responsible choice.
- Abortion should remain legal, no matter what.
- Sentient pregnant person > non-sentient fetus.
- Do not harass those who want an abortion or those who have had one.
- Abortion needs to be de-stigmatized, for the sake of the people who choose it or who need it.
It’s a sad set of humanity that has to buy sex from another. Tanja Rahm speaks of her experiences and the pathetic nature of those who employ her. Thank you to the Antiporn Activist tumblr for hosting her story.
Dear sex customer,
If you think that I ever felt attracted to you, you are terribly mistaken. I have never had any desire to go to work, not once. The only thing on my mind was to make money, and fast. Do not confuse that with easy money, it was never easy. Fast, yes. Because I quickly learned the many tricks to get you to come as quickly as possible, so I could get you off of me, or from under me, or from behind me.
And no, you never turned me on during the act. I was a great actress. For years I have had the opportunity to practice for free. Actually, it falls under the concept of multitasking. Because while you lay there, my thoughts were always elsewhere. Somewhere where I was not confronted with you sucking out my self respect, without spending as much as ten seconds on the reality of the situation, or to look me in the eye.
If you thought you were doing me a favour by paying me for thirty minutes or an hour, you were wrong. I would rather have had you in and out as fast as possible. When you thought yourself to my holy saviour, asking what a pretty girl like me was doing in a place like that, you lost your halo when you proceeded to ask me to lie down on my back, and then put all your efforts into feeling my body as much as possible with your hands. Actually, I would have preferred if you had gotten down on your back and had let me do my job.
When you thought you could boost your masculinity by getting me to climax, you need to know that I faked it. I could have won a gold medal in faking it. I faked it so much, that the receptionist would nearly fall off of her chair laughing. What did you expect? You were perhaps number three, or number five, or eight that day. Did you really think I was able to get turned on mentally or physically by having sex with men I did not choose myself? Not ever. My genitals were burning. From lubricant and condoms. And I was tired. So tired, that often I had to be careful not to close my eyes for fear of falling asleep while my moaning continued on autopilot.
If you thought you paid for loyalty or small talk, you need to think again. I had zero interest in your excuses. I did not care that your wife had SPD, and that you just could not go without sex. Or when you offered any other pathetic excuse for coming to buy sex with me. When you thought I understood you and had sympathy for you, it was all a lie. I had nothing but contempt for you, and at the same time you destroyed something inside of me. You sowed the seeds of doubt in me. Doubt as to whether all men were just as cynical and unfaithful as you were.
When you praised my appearance, my body, or my sexual abilities, you could just as well have vomited on me. You did not see the person behind the mask. You only saw that which confirmed your illusion of a raunchy woman with an unstoppable sex drive. In fact, you never said what you thought I wanted to hear. Instead, you said what you yourself needed to hear. You said that, which was needed to preserve your illusion, and which prevented you from thinking about how I had ended up where I was at twenty years of age. Basically you did not care at all. Because you had one goal only, and that was to show off your power by paying me to use my body as it pleased you.
What a concept eh?
Another bit of well crafted insight into some of the subtle rules that govern our society.