Wednesday, July 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Facts and logic are irrelevant?

By
From page A10 | July 04, 2014 |

Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Hobby Lobby case is disturbing on an even deeper level than the already-notable issue of women’s reproductive health.

The case’s entire premise was that the company should not have to pay for specific products that it considered to be abortifacients. Putting aside whether you think companies should cover such products in general, the facts appear cut-and-dried: Plan B, ella and IUDs act as contraception. Birth control. As in, they are used as measures to prevent fertilization, and are useless if the individual is already pregnant. (If someone can post a source that contradicts this, I genuinely welcome it.)

Hobby Lobby’s belief in this case wasn’t even really a religious one. It was a gross misconception about the physiology/chemistry of a medical product. The company was allowed to submit a literally incorrect statement under the umbrella of religious belief. If people had seen reason, they might have observed that the aforementioned products act as fertilization prevention measures, just like the other 16 that Hobby Lobby agrees to cover. So why not just suck it up and accept those other four products as well?

So what makes this ruling so fascinating to me is that a plaintiff’s blatantly wrong, disproved-beyond-reasonable-doubt “belief” survived long enough to make it to the Supreme Court, and the court legitimized the company owners’ ignorance. The precedent appears to be that as long as a belief is sincerely held and is merely labeled as religious, the factual legitimacy and logic are completely irrelevant.

In conclusion: I’m going to get out of paying taxes due to my sincerely held belief that taxpayer funds were used to coerce Fox into canceling “Firefly.” (My religion forbids Joss Whedon’s unemployment.)

Andy Hyun
Davis

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Discussion | 26 comments

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  • Noreen MazelisJuly 04, 2014 - 1:18 pm

    News flash: women still have access to contraception, local and national hysterics notstanding.

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  • -July 04, 2014 - 2:11 pm

    Yes Noreen and everyone has equal access to all health coverage, money and fame. It's about fairness , Noreen!

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  • Greg JohnsonJuly 04, 2014 - 5:20 pm

    the court legitimized the company owners’ ignorance............So, Andy, 1) Do you have some special insights or knowledge that the court justices don't?, 2) Is it not true that morning after pills disrupt the process after fertilization, whereas birth control doesn't allow fertilization to occur? (That's my impression), and 3) If some woman are flaky enough that they are having unprotected sex, can't they pay for their own morning after pill? After all, this should not be a common expense for them, nor a large one.

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  • Grant AcostaJuly 05, 2014 - 8:19 am

    Wow, Greg, I'm still in shock about number 3. So only the woman is the "flaky" one, and responsible for the consequences of unprotected sex? What is most disturbing about this case is that 5 men get to make decisions regarding women's health, when if it was the other way around (a Court majority of 5 women making decisions about men's health), you can only imagine the uproar. I am quite confident that if MEN were the ones that had to endure pregnancy and childbirth, we would not be having this debate!

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  • Greg JohnsonJuly 05, 2014 - 9:03 am

    My point is simply that nobody with a brain should go on having repeated unprotected sex. If they make the mistake once, the can pay the $50 or whatever it costs to buy the morning after pill with their own money, and maybe they'll figure it out next time-think of it as a cheap parking ticket. As far as your gender warfare crap, give it up! I don't know why liberals always push for divisiveness. Maybe because they're short on substance.

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  • Grant AcostaJuly 05, 2014 - 8:36 am

    Here's why this case should bother you. Suppose Greg is the CEO of a large company. After seeing this case, his new "religion" has moral objections to smoking, drinking and certain medicine (if you get sick, it is God's will). His company will no longer provide coverage for any malady caused my poor health decisions. If you have a stroke from smoking too much, or liver damage from drinking, its your own d___ fault! He is also thinking of also denying coverage for auto accidents, if it is determined that you were at fault (why should we pay for your carelessness or "flakiness"?) Also, God gave you the brain you have, so you do not need any mental health drugs. Don't worry, Noreen, our new insurance spokesperson, says you still have access to these services, you just need to pay for them yourself.

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  • Greg JohnsonJuly 05, 2014 - 9:08 am

    This comment is virtually too silly to respond to but I'll try. The pro-choice, pro-life debate is still an active one. This employer's view is not something on the fringes, as your other silly examples are. However, even if your examples occurred, people could just work for someone else. Before Obamacare, employers weren't required to offer healthcare and things worked out okay, and I believe people will say better once they've lived with it for a while.

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  • Dorte JensenJuly 05, 2014 - 11:26 am

    Hi Grant, you suggest that all moral objections are the same. This is incorrect. The reason that Hobby Lobby refuses to pay for abortifacients is that using them causes death to a third party, i.e., the fertilized egg. The company deems this third party to be innocent of any fault, so it does not want to be part of punishing (i.e., killing) it. Whether the present ruling would be a precedent for allowing a company to refuse to pay for employee (i.e., second-party) medical care for any of the reasons you cite is another question. For example, some religions (such as Christian Science) do not believe that medicine is always necessary to treat illness. If a business with that belief took its case to the Supreme Court, I would stand up and cheer. You see, I encourage freedom of thought and expression, and I don't trust the Federal government to have increasing power over my life.

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  • Rich RifkinJuly 05, 2014 - 12:07 pm

    "The reason that Hobby Lobby refuses to pay for abortifacients is that using them causes death to a third party, i.e., the fertilized egg. The company deems this third party to be innocent of any fault, so it does not want to be part of punishing (i.e., killing) it." ............... One of the specific problems with Hobby Lobby's "morals" argument, which the SCOTUS majority did not take into account it its decision, is that Hobby Lobby is hypocritical in the extreme when it comes to making money off of the very birth control products it claims to abhor. Hobby Lobby manages a retirement plan for its employees. In doing so, they invest in (and make money from) the very companies which, according to multiple investigations, "produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions." Hobby Lobby has put its employees' money "in companies that manufacture the specific drugs and devices that the Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, is fighting to keep out of Hobby Lobby's health care policies: the emergency contraceptive pills Plan B and Ella, and copper and hormonal intrauterine devices." ............. This sort of do as I say, not as I do behavior reminds me of those who drive gas-burning cars to protests against petroleum.

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  • Dorte JensenJuly 05, 2014 - 3:00 pm

    Thanks, Rich, for the additional information. If was not aware of it and will look into it. This legal decision gets more interesting all the time!

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  • Greg JohnsonJuly 05, 2014 - 4:08 pm

    Hobby Lobby manages a retirement plan for its employees. In doing so, they invest in (and make money from) the very companies which, according to multiple investigations, "produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions."....................Rich, this very well may be true. I don't know the specifics but it could be that a mutual fund available through their retirement plan invests across the health care industry and owns a little piece of a company, who has morning after pills as one of their drugs. I'm not saying this is true, only that if it were your statement would be accurate. However, if we apply that same level of scrutiny to everyone, there probably wouldn't be one percent of us who aren't hypocrites. Now, if you want unveiled hypocrisy, it is Al Gore flying around in his own private jet, and having a $32,000 utility charge in one year. Now THAT is hypocrisy! BTW, I'm not saying that you endorse Al. Just distinguishing true hypocrisy from the fringes where we all live.

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  • Grant AcostaJuly 05, 2014 - 12:28 pm

    "The reason that Hobby Lobby refuses to pay for abortifacients is that using them causes death to a third party, i.e., the fertilized egg. The company deems this third party to be innocent of any fault, so it does not want to be part of punishing (i.e., killing) it" - We can have that debate, but that's not what I was responding to. Greg and others on the right have framed this court decision on the idea that women should suffer the consequences of their choices, NOT from any sort of fertilized-egg-as-a-human argument. I was merely extending his argument of taking responsibility for personal choices. According to his logic, why should I pay for a smoker's lung cancer treatment, when they clearly knew the risks associated with smoking?

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  • Dorte JensenJuly 05, 2014 - 3:52 pm

    Hi Grant, I think that you misunderstand Greg's argument. I urge you to think of people as human beings first and as members of different categories (gender, religion, etc.) last. I know this statement might sound strange, since the legal case involved both religion and gender, but more fundamentally I think it was about freedom or (now that I hear from Rich about possible hypocrisy) should have been about freedom.

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  • Andy HyunJuly 07, 2014 - 1:55 pm

    Hello Greg, pardon the relative lateness of my reply. Regarding 1), I don't consider my knowledge to be particularly "special," and I don't know how informed each Justice is on the topic of reproductive health. But those are beside the point; a fact is what it is, regardless of which individuals know that fact. 2) Emergency contraception is another measure to prevent fertilization. Plan B, for example, contains the same ingredient as typical birth control, just in a much higher dosage. IUD's (which make up two of Hobby Lobby's disputed products) are also measures against fertilization - depending on what type is used, they can inhibit ovulation or disrupt sperm motility. ella has since been pointed out to me as not so clear-cut. Its intended use is to delay or stop ovulation by taking it before one expects to ovulate, though it has also been implicated in preventing implantation of fertilized eggs. The matter gets more complicated if a woman might ovulate outside of her typical window, or if she has irregular periods. I should note that even if these methods do block implantation of a zygote, that doesn't distinguish them from the natural state - a woman's body will reject about half of all fertilized eggs even without any birth control or related product at all. In fact, a case can be made for birth control LOWERING the rate of expelled zygotes - lowered ovulation rate means fewer chances for fertilization, thus fewer zygotes, thus fewer zygotic deaths. An example of someone who ran numbers on it can be found here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/10/zygotes-lost-with-birth-control-v-without-birth-control.html In theory, if one's goal is simply to reduce the volume of embryonic life lost because he believes that life begins at fertilization, s/he should be compelled to support the use of birth control. 3) The issue of whether the woman should pay (what about the father?) or whether the employer should, isn't particularly on topic with my original LttE. I'm asking if a party should be allowed to submit a secular fact that is demonstrably false, and have it be admissible in a state-sanctioned court of law. If someone THINKS that something violates their religious beliefs, but it can be factually proven that it DOESN'T, is it still a violation? Should an incorrect/mistaken fact be considered in deciding policy or court rulings? If so, why?

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  • Noreen MazelisJuly 05, 2014 - 11:23 am

    Was birth control “banned” prior to the enactment of Obamacare? Is it banned for the millions who work for employers already exempted from its contraception mandates by the Obama administration itself? To ask these questions is to answer them.

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  • SFJuly 05, 2014 - 2:28 pm

    HobbyLobby asserts it 'sincerely held religious beliefs' as its reason for not supplying contraceptives. What if a Muslim owned company wanted to impose Sharia law. Corporations, should all be held to the same standards. When do we get there?

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  • Rich RifkinJuly 05, 2014 - 4:14 pm

    "What if a Muslim owned company wanted to impose Sharia law." ................. SF, keep in mind that most businesses, not just those formed as corporations, are prohibited by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act from discriminating "on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin." That effectively means "a Muslim owned company" could not require its employees to follow Muslim prayers, to face in the direction of Mecca when they pray, to follow Islamic dietary laws, to only wear clothing which the owners of the company believe are in line with Sharia law, etc. .............. However, I am not sure if Title VII applies to very small companies, such as a mom and pop shop. Those sorts of businesses may be exempt. I am also sure that explicitly religious enterprises--i.e., churches, mosques, affiliated religious schools and charities, etc.--are exempt. So if, for example, a woman chose to take a job at a Muslim-affiliated private school, Title VII would not protect her from religious discrimination, and if the school required her to follow its interpretations of Sharia law, she either would have to or quit. Of course, I don't think anyone would take such a job if they were uncomfortable with such terms.

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  • Dorte JensenJuly 05, 2014 - 4:18 pm

    Hi SF, Hobby Lobby will supply contraceptives but not abortifacients. Contraceptives prevent union of the egg and sperm, and abortifacients prevent implantation of the fertilized egg. The issue is when human life begins. It cannot exist in an unfertilized egg, since the egg only contains half of the required amount of chromosomes; once the egg is fertilized, however, all the necessary chromosomes are present to become a human being. In other words, a fertilized egg is human life in its earliest form.

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  • Rich RifkinJuly 05, 2014 - 5:24 pm

    "In other words, a fertilized egg is human life in its earliest form." .............. Dorte, would you then suggest that a worker at a fertility clinic who, when say cleaning out a freezer, throws in the garbage several hundred fertilized eggs, is guilty of multiple counts of manslaughter? ............... It sure seems you would have to, if you understand that the legal definition of manslaughter is "the unjustifiable, inexcusable, and intentional killing of a human being without deliberation, premeditation, and malice. The unlawful killing of a human being without any deliberation, which may be involuntary, in the commission of a lawful act without due caution and circumspection." ............. The problem you face with making blastocysts the legal or moral equivalent of a human being is that thousands of fertility clinics all over the United States have millions of these zygotes in their freezers. It is a necessary byproduct of in vitro fertilization. ................ Ironically, there are so-called 'pro-life' extremists who want to outlaw IVF for this very reason. But that is not really a pro-life position to the five million or so human beings worldwide who would not be alive today were it not for in vitro fertilization.

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  • Greg JohnsonJuly 05, 2014 - 6:18 pm

    Rich, I think your argument has gotten too far adrift from the debate here. I don't, and I doubt Dorte does, have a pro-life stance. All I (and maybe we) are saying is that it is OK for people to not be forced into going against their moral convictions. Are they going to try to stop employees from purchasing or using morning after pills? No. Maybe they don't believe in IVF but that is beside the point in this debate. The court has ruled (and neither your nor I know what they did or did not take into account) that the company did not have to provide a drug they are opposed to. Is the reality of someone having to pay a few bucks for their own pill, when they blow it with their covered contraceptive, a big deal?

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  • Rich RifkinJuly 05, 2014 - 6:45 pm

    "I don't, and I doubt Dorte does, have a pro-life stance. All I (and maybe we) are saying is that it is OK for people to not be forced into going against their moral convictions." ........... Then I think you are mistaken on two counts. One, the fact that Hobby Lobby does not really have moral convictions--witness their investments in companies which produce the very birth control devices they say are abhorrent; and two, Dorte's position that "a fertilized egg is the equal of a human being" is without any doubt one which comes from the so-called pro-life stance. I cannot imagine anyone who calls himself "pro-life" does not share her views on that stance. And moreover, I cannot imagine anyone who calls himself "pro-choice" agrees that a blastocyst is the legal and moral equal of a human being.

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  • Greg JohnsonJuly 05, 2014 - 7:49 pm

    Rich, maybe I assumed (and stated such, that I did not know) the reason for Dorte's support of the ruling. Apparently she is pro-life. I am pro-life in the sense that I would not abort my own child but would vote and support pro-choice. For me, this is about government power run amuck. With regard to your other point, I think it is probably a weak argument as I suggested in my other response. I don't know the nature of their investment but I imagine if you dig (which I won't bother) that you'll probably find a very thin thread of which almost all of us are guilty. I am not a Christian per se, but I love the "let he who is without sin....thing. If these people don't have the moral conviction, why do you think they bothered with this suit in the first place? I'm not sure if you're bothered by their stance or if you're just playing devil's advocate.

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  • Dorte JensenJuly 05, 2014 - 6:43 pm

    Hi Rich, I am a bit surprised. I wrote that a fertilized egg is "human life in its earliest form" and can become a "human being". Your definition of manslaughter deals with the latter (mentioned twice) and not the former (mentioned never). By the way, I know that parents usually want to have "their own" children, but I regard extreme measures like IVF to be on the immoral side. I believe this not because blastocysts are eventually destroyed but because babies and children needing parents are not adopted instead. (There are many children in foster care who are never adopted, for example.) The problem is that most people are basically self-centered: They want a child who looks like them, and they don't want a child who might require additional work, such as one exposed to drugs in utero or abuse of whatever kind after birth. Given this fact, I guess it is good that these people don't adopt what they consider to be "second-rate" human beings.

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  • Rich RifkinJuly 05, 2014 - 6:48 pm

    "I regard extreme measures like IVF to be on the immoral side." .............. There are roughly 5 million living people who were born to parents who wanted their own biological children--perhaps because that is a pre-wired biological norm for most human beings--who strongly think your definition of "the immoral side" is unconscionable and cruel.

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  • Dorte JensenJuly 06, 2014 - 1:50 am

    Hi Rich, thanks for your response. Judging from your post of 6:48 p.m., you understand that I don't equate a blastocyst with a human being. Because I make that distinction and find an even greater distinction between an unfertilized egg and a human being, I conclude that the latter is of much greater worth than the former. However, when a couple uses IVF, they in effect believe the opposite. They prize their genetic material so highly--their sperm and egg--that they undergo invasive and elaborate medical procedures to unite it in a petri dish. Then they have the resulting blastocyst implanted in a womb artificially primed to accept it, and they wait for the resulting baby. No matter that there might have been a baby or child in need already waiting for them, i.e., waiting for the love and security that they could provide as adoptive parents. Yes, humans are probably hard-wired to prefer their own offspring, like other animals. However, unlike other animals, humans can prefer the thought of their own offspring (who do not exist) to children biologically unrelated to them (who do exist). In earlier days, thinking about having biological children did no good if a couple could not conceive the old fashioned way. In that case, the couple would have to adopt, and this would benefit two parties: the adopted child and the adoptive parents. However, now thinking about having a biological child is almost enough if one has the money, and the net benefit is less: The biological child and parents are helped, but the unadopted child is hurt (i.e., there is one less chance to have a home and parents), so the net benefit may be only one. It is the thought process that I find negative, the over-emphasized distinction between what could be (one's own child) and what is (a biologically unrelated child). You see, I believe that all human beings are of equal worth and that nobody should be rejected, especially in favor of a sperm and an egg. Of course, people can believe and do as they like, but I find the IVF approach to be somewhat immoral, by which I mean that in the big picture it is more wrong than right. You call my position cruel and unconscionable. What about yours? An easy way to boil down these last few hundred words is to answer the following question: How would you feel if you were a child with no parents who was never adopted?

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  • Puddin TaneJuly 09, 2014 - 5:33 pm

    "The case’s entire premise was that the company should not have to pay for specific products that it considered to be abortifacients. Putting aside whether you think companies should cover such products in general, the facts appear cut-and-dried: Plan B, ella and IUDs act as contraception. Birth control. As in, they are used as measures to prevent fertilization, and are useless if the individual is already pregnant. (If someone can post a source that contradicts this, I genuinely welcome it.)" To Greg, Dorte, Noreen, and others supporting SCOTUS' decision: have ANY of you produced any evidence that refutes the above paragraph? If not, can you explain why it is reasonable for Hobby Lobby to claim religious exemption on this premise? Is it not as illogical as stating you believe the world to be flat because "the Bible tells you so?" If this seems like a logical premise to use in a legal argument for religious exemption, then I submit that the Enlightenment was a failure.

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