As we all know, the U.S. Supreme Court is taking another look at the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka the ACA or “Obamacare.” In spite of predictions by many conservatives, a five-justice majority already has deemed the law constitutional.
This time the issue seems much narrower: Should secular employers who have a religious opposition to abortion be required to provide coverage for abortifacient contraceptives such as Plan B, the anti-pregnancy pill? The court’s agreed to hear two cases, one by the owners of craft retailer Hobby Lobby and the other by the owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties.
You can argue this one on both sides until the cows come home, just like people on both sides have been arguing about abortion for decades. But there’s really a much broader question underlying it.
And that’s this: should ANY secular employer with sincerely held religious beliefs against a medical procedure, or medicine be required to pay for coverage that includes that procedure or medication?
Because abortion is far from the only issue here.
Consider Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Scientology.
• Should a business that owned by a faithful Christian Scientist be required to cover its employees with health insurance at all? Christian Scientists believe prayer, not doctors or medicine, is what cures sick people.
• Should a business owned by a devout Jehovah’s Witness be required to provide medical insurance that covers blood transfusions? Jehovah’s Witnesses believes people should not accept transfusions or donate blood for them.
• Should a business owned by a Scientologist be required to offer insurance coverage for mental health and psychiatric medications, as the ACA requires? Scientologists are forbidden from taking antidepressants and other psychiatric medications. The church is adamantly opposed to psychiatry, period.
And what if an employee of an Amish-owned company needs a pacemaker?
By now you can see the can of worms the court’s about to open here. Where does the issue of religious liberty end?
Will the justices lift that lid fully off, and invite more lawsuits from Catholic businesspeople who oppose covering any kind of contraceptives, even for Protestant, Jewish or atheist employees?
I doubt it. What do you think?