Supreme Court decision on Hobby Lobby will impact debate on when life begins

Baby in womb at 4 months

Baby in womb at 4 months. (Image: Jim Gathany, Centers for Disease Control, 1998)

As this article published, the Supreme Court ruling was announced. Hobby Lobby prevailed. The case was far more complex than U.S. media told you.

Most media framed the Hobby Lobby lawsuit against the Obamacare tax bill as a battle over contraceptives. The case was more complex than that, and a major element involved the debate about when life begins. U.S. media have not provided clear coverage on this debate.

Hobby Lobby wasn’t contesting the coverage of contraceptives mandated by Obamacare. 

The company’s concerns involved what media call “emergency contraception”. The most objective report on the case can be found at Reuters. Hobby Lobby disputed the mandate to provide “after-intercourse products, so-called emergency contraception such as the ‘morning-after’ pill, which prevent pregnancy.”

Companies have changed claims and descriptions of these drugs at times, and that has contributed to confusion.

Most U.S. media have given Americans the impression Hobby Lobby doesn’t want to cover all contraceptives. That is not accurate.

The Becket Fund allied with Hobby Lobby says the health tax bill “forces the Christian-owned-and-operated business to provide, without co-pay, the ‘morning after pill’ and ‘week after pill’ in their health insurance plan, or face crippling fines up to 1.3 million dollars per day.”

Groups who self-describe as pro-life believe the drugs Hobby Lobby protested destroy embryos. For these groups, life begins at conception.

Pro-no-limits-abortion groups take the position the drugs are fine because they contend pregnancy or life begins when the fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus—implantation.

Two of the products in dispute were Ella and Plan B. The manufacturers of both drugs include warnings that neither are appropriate for routine contraception, and that would suggest Hobby Lobby’s argument had merit.

During arguments before the Supreme Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor questioned Hobby Lobby’s attorney, positing there shouldn’t be a problem at all because Hobby Lobby could simply pay the extra tax if it chose not to provide the contraceptives.

Sotomayor appears to not realize she proposed taxing religion. Such a tax would be illegal because of limits in the First Amendment.

Traditional tenets of major faiths such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are increasingly at odds with progressive social policy on abortion. The trend since Democrats won total control of the government in the 2006 midterms, and keeping most control even after Republicans took the House back in the 2010 midterms, has been to impose mandates on faith that conflict with the First Amendment which limits government’s control of faith.

The Supreme Court ruling on the Hobby Lobby case will have an impact on the argument about when life begins, and on whether drugs like Ella and Plan B are abortifacients.

Despite claims by pro-no-limits-abortion groups, one fact about conception supports a philosophical debate. WebMD describes early developments:

“At the instant of fertilization, your baby’s genes and sex are set. If the sperm has a Y chromosome, your baby will be a boy. If it has an X chromosome, the baby will be a girl.”

How a non-life can have genes and sex is a matter pro-no-limits-abortion groups haven’t tackled. For pro-life groups, it’s simple. Life begins at conception.

To read about the Supreme Court decision, see Hobby Lobby wins.


Featured Photo: Baby in womb at 4 months. (Image: Jim Gathany, Centers for Disease Control, 1998)

(Filed by Kay B. Day/June 30, 2014)

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About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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