Tomorrow is Gloria Steinem’s 80th birthday. Because the Universe has a sense of humor, it is also the day that oral arguments are being made before the Supreme Court in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the challenge to the Affordable Care Act wherein Hobby Lobby argues its religious freedom is being violated because it has to include birth control in the insurance plans offered to its employees.
Laying aside the rather bizarre idea that a corporation can practice a religion, and the idea that the religious freedom of the two Hobby Lobby owners should outweigh the religious freedom and physical health of hundreds of their employees, here’s the problem I have with their argument:
They can avoid this entire problem by simply not offering insurance to their employees at all. If the owners of Hobby Lobby have such an issue with the ladies getting their “abortion pills” that they cannot in all good conscience obey the law (which requires all insurance plans to cover contraception), they can simply choose to compensate their employees solely through wages, rather than wages and insurance together. The ACA explicitly allows employers to do that, in fact - just increase the wages to cover the lost insurance benefit. Then those employees can go on the exchanges and buy their own insurance, spending their earned compensation in whichever way their individual consciences see fit.
Hobby Lobby does not want to compensate with wages alone, however, because corporations get tax breaks for compensating with insurance that they don’t get for compensating with wages. They want it both ways – reap the tax benefits conferred on corporations that buy insurance for their employees, but don’t be made follow the laws governing said insurance.
If their religion means so much to them, they can forego the fucking tax break.