HOBBY LOBBY REDUX

DID SUPREME COURT JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA GET “SNOOKERED” IN THE HOBBY LOBBY DECISION?”



I’m not sure that anyone here is interested in revisiting the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, but I happened to run across a Salon article yesterday that I found revealing, in that it revealed the right wing’s duplicity and manipulation of science and facts (no big news there) in its efforts to outlaw abortions.  My quick summary follows and the link to the entire article is at the end. 

During oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby case:

Scalia:  “You’re talking about, what, three or four birth controls, not all of them, just those that are abortifacient?”

This was the reasoning, i.e. that abortifacients cause miscarriages and thus abortions, that Hobby Lobby used to be released from the ACA mandate to supply birth control to its employees enrolled in the company sponsored health insurance coverage.  This was the basis for the owners’ claim of closely held religious beliefs against abortions. 

In the words of Hobby Lobby President Steve Green: “We believe life begins at conception.”  In their view, fertilization, conception and pregnancy are synonymous, a common claim among conservatives.  This is the “personhood” meme the right wing uses to push for restrictions on and the outlawing of abortions. 

And Scalia apparently agrees.  But despite the Supreme Court Justice’s words, here’s what medical professionals say:

The federal government and major medical voices, such as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association, disagree.

“A pregnancy exists once a fertilized embryo has implanted in the uterus. Prior to that implantation, we do not have a viable pregnancy,” said Dr. Barbara Levy, vice president for health policy for the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Levy’s group argues that emergency contraception “cannot prevent implantation of a fertilized egg,” and that it is “not effective after implantation; therefore, it is not an abortifacient.”

Drugs such as RU-486 or methotrexate combined with misoprostol were designed specifically to bring a medical end to a pregnancy and are clearly abortifacient. But those are not contraceptives, Levy said, and they’re not included in the mandate.

Levy contends that her group’s definition of pregnancy, established in 1970, “ is scientific. By the time I was in medical school, it was crystal clear to all of us.”

This is from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists not from the American Family Association or Rush Limbaugh or Faux News.  Again, it’s science not propaganda.  Makes sense to me.  But the reliance on non-science is not an usual situation in 21st Century America, is it?

But one would hope, perhaps fruitlessly as it turns out, that our Supreme Court Justices when considering cases that have significant impact on public policy issues would err on the side of science; in fact, rely on it rather than, let’s say rely on astrology as Nancy Reagan used to do.  Or politically inspired propaganda.

But not the conservative Justices like Scalia.  What they relied on for the crucial definition of what constitutes birth control as opposed to abortion, didn’t rely on science.  They relied on propaganda.  True: popular and widespread propaganda, but propaganda nonetheless.

Here are Scalia’s words one more time:

“You’re talking about, what, three or four birth controls, not all of them, just those that are abortifacient?”

Sadly, not a single one of the “abortifacients” at issue in the Hobby Lobby case causes abortions because in order for an abortion to occur one has to be pregnant.  The ACA does not mandate the coverage of abortions or abortion inducing drugs.  In fact, the use of Federal funds for abortions is still illegal.   But based on a lie, based on the misinformed, misguided but “closely held religious beliefs” of the Hobby Lobby owners and our addled-brained right wing anti-abortionists, for the first time in our nations’ history a private company is legally free to pursue discriminatory practices based on religious beliefs.  And this newly won “religious freedom” is based on a big, fat lie.

Now back to my original question: Was Atonin Scalia “snookered” into his Hobby Lobby decision?  Maybe.  But I doubt it.  While I totally disagree with Scalia’s conservative positions and decisions, he is, admittedly, not a stupid man.  In fact, one could say that he is a scholar.  I would say that but I won’t since it would be too upsetting for me.  So, given that Justice Scalia is no dummy, what is one to think of his un-scientific reasoning in deciding the Hobby Lobby case?  Hey, let’s not quibble here. He was giving the right wing anti-abortionists a victory.  Hobby Lobby vs. Katherine Sibelius: CASE CLOSED. 

What isn’t “closed” however, is the reliance on propaganda rather than science that is so prevalent in our society today.  And this reliance is particularly troubling in Supreme Court cases since they can have such far reaching pubic policy consequences.  This case remains wide open. 

Here’s the link to the entire article:




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