Thursday, January 16, 2014

Exemptions from the ‘contraception mandate’ threaten religious liberty - The Washington Post

Exemptions from the ‘contraception mandate’ threaten religious liberty - The Washington Post: "If the court agrees and grants these businesses the religious exemption they seek, it essentially will be directing the women who work for these businesses to bear the cost of the owners’ anti-contraception religion. After all, but for the business’s religious objection, the cost of contraception would be fully covered by insurance. And the burden on the employees is significant. Some of the most reliable and cost-effective contraceptives have up-front costs approaching $1,000, and many branded contraceptives cost this much or more annually; even generic birth-control pills, which are not appropriate for many women, may cost hundreds of dollars a year. These costs, moreover, would be spread widely throughout the labor force. Consider Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts chain controlled by a religious family, which has brought one of the lawsuits pending before the Supreme Court. If the court rules in the company’s favor, Hobby Lobby’s 13,000 employees would underwrite the religious beliefs of a single family."

'via Blog this'

First, if Hobby Lobby's employees don't like the fact their benefits package excludes contraceptives, they can work elsewhere. Thus, if the court grants an exception under the RFRA, no one will be forced to do anything for Hobby Lobby, as this article implies.

Second, where is the economic analysis? Supply and demand dictate compensation, not the employer's whim. If Hobby Lobby offers $1,000 less in benefits, assuming those benefits are actually of that value to the employees, it is going to have to compensate its employees $1,000 more in some other way, otherwise it will not be able to attract the same caliber of employees.  Hobby Lobby is not getting out of paying anything.

Third, in what way is this underwriting religious beliefs? Underwriting is agreeing to accept liability for another's loss. What liability are employees accepting here from Hobby Lobby? The liability of paying for their own birth control? This argument only makes sense if your premise is that an employee has a right to birth control paid for by her employer. But that right only exists if it does not infringe on the employer's right to freely exercise religion, as contained in the RFRA. Thus, the underwriting argument is circular. It presumes legality of the very the law Hobby Lobby is challenging.

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