Reactions to the recent Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision that affirmed the right of closely held corporations to refuse to offer abortion and birth control services to their employees because of the religious convictions of the owners, were very revealing.
Unsurprisingly conservatives hailed the decision as a victory for religious freedom. On the left, however, the story was quite different. In fact, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a hysterically doctrinaire reaction to any issue.
Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, who herself dislikes the decision, characterized the reactions of many liberals this way in a salon.com article: “Liberals have gone nuts, wildly predicting the end of the world as we know it.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the Court’s ruling “outrageous.” To California Senator Barbara Boxer, it means that “the employer, the boss, has total power to deny critical medical care to their employees.”
The Court ruled that individuals who happen to be business owners are not required to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs in order to meet a government mandate that by its nature is less than critical. Not having contraceptive services included in your company’s insurance benefit is not a life-threatening issue, especially since very adequate provisions for obtaining that coverage would be available elsewhere.
Any worker who decides to seek employment at Hobby Lobby will know up front that the firm’s insurance package won’t cover contraception or abortion services. They have the option to accept that fact and make other arrangements for covering their contraception needs, or to seek employment elsewhere.
On the other hand, had the Court decided the case differently, the owners of Hobby Lobby would have no other alternative than to either bend to a government dictate that required them to violate their consciences, or go out of business.
The hysterical responses on the left seem to give zero weight to the issue of religious freedom, and maximum weight to the emotional symbolism of “an employer trying to control women’s bodies.”
To my mind, that kind of rhetoric only demonstrates that liberal ideologues can be just as unreasonably strident and demanding as their conservative brethren.
But the liberal political class seems to be fully caught up in the wave of unthinking hysteria. After expressing their outrage and dismay that the national sky is falling, Senate Democrats moved promptly to introduce legislation to overturn the decision.