Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision to allow corporations such as Hobby Lobby, which brought the case, to opt out of the ObamaCare birth control mandate for religious reasons. The decision has huge implications, not only for ObamaCare mandates, but perhaps for companies who, in the future, have religious objections to workers vaccinations, or psychiatric care, or blood transfusions, all of which are also in conflict with certain religious beliefs.
It’s also likely to be used as a further wedge between the two parties, something to which we will likely get a front-row seat in the upcoming election. (Below are some reactions from Alaska’s pols to the ruling.) It’s no secret that Republicans have a women problem generally, and specifically a young, single women’s problem, exactly that group that will be most affected by the ruling. This, at least in the rest of the country, is sure to ad ammunition to the charge of the Republican “War on Women.”
How much of an affect will this have on Alaskans? Hard to say for sure. I’ve spoken to one Republican strategist who doesn’t think that the problem translates up here. There are so few single women, he told me, and many of the ones that are in Alaska are in the military, a group which tends to lean Republican.
He might be right in the Republican primary at least. The general election is a different story. All three Republican candidates who are vying for their party’s nomination support the decision. Sen. Mark Begich does not.
Begich knows the electorate better than anyone running, and he’s got one of the very best political pollsters in the country—Celinda Lake--working for him. Begich might very well hold deep beliefs about women’s reproductive rights which transcend his political aspirations. But if those beliefs weren’t popular in Alaska, I’d bet a lot on the fact that he wouldn’t be as outspoken about them as he is.
Support or objection to the vote alone will likely not move many Republican-leaning males Begich’s way. But it might very well move their wives, and their daughters. As I wrote in a previous piece, there are fewer women in Alaska, but they vote at a greater percentage than do men.
I’m betting that Begich knows things about them that the Republican candidates don’t.
Here are some excerpts from press releases about the ruling:
From Mark Begich:
I disagree with today’s Supreme Court decision. Bosses should not be able to prevent access to family planning and birth control for Alaska women. This is unacceptable. As Alaskans, we don’t want the government intruding into our lives and telling us how to make personal decisions. Ninety-nine percent of women will use contraceptives at some point in their lives and this decision shows how out of touch the Supreme Court is with Alaskans. A woman’s health care decisions should be between herself and in consultation with her doctor. I will continue to fight to protect all Alaskans’ right to privacy and that includes a women’s right to make her own health care decisions.
From Gov. Sean Parnell:
I am pleased that the Supreme Court affirmed that the government does not have the right to dictate conscience. For those businesses whose actions are informed by their sacredly held religious convictions, this decision is particularly important. Federal regulatory overreach does not supersede one’s First Amendment rights.
From Joe Miller:
I am very pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision. While it is narrow in scope, the fact that business owners’ free exercise rights have been recognized is a step in the right direction. The Obama Administration’s chilling assault on the free exercise guaranteed in the First Amendment is outrageous, and all people of good faith, regardless of ideology, should see this as a triumph for Constitutional liberty… That Mark Begich stands by his flawed vote for ObamaCare, including the federal government’s ‘authority’ to trample over Alaskans First Amendment rights is shocking.
And to top it off, below is a list compiled by Mother Jones from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s blistering dissent. It’s also worth noting that not one woman justice joined the majority’s decision:
- “The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage”
- “Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.”
- “Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.”
- “It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”
- “Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.”
- “Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution’s] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”
- “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org