Uncle George, You’re Disappointing Me

George Takei, who makes me laugh uproariously every day with his hilarious facebook posts, has just joined the ranks of the misinformed activists. The Supreme Court recently ruled that employers should not be required by law to pay for birth control. The case, involving Hobby Lobby, had been argued because the new Affordable Care Act (which, by the way, has raised my premiums and stunted my benefits quite drastically) required all employers to offer health insurance that also covered all types of birth control 100%. Hobby Lobby had argued that because of the religious beliefs of the owners, they shouldn’t be required to pay for certain types of birth control.

Everyone is losing their minds over this. Today, Uncle George (as so many affectionately call him) took to his blog to condemn the decision. He wrote, “Hobby Lobby is not a church. It’s a business — and a big one at that. Businesses must and should be required to comply with neutrally crafted laws of general applicability. Your boss should not have a say over your healthcare. Once the law starts permitting exceptions based on ‘sincerely held religious beliefs’ there’s no end to the mischief and discrimination that will ensue.”

Oh my. That’s strong verbiage indeed. It’s also a little over the top.

What nobody is reporting is that the SCOTUS ruling only affects morning-after pills and IUDs, the latter of which tends to cause pulmonary embolism and stroke. Hobby Lobby is still offering insurance that covers 16 different types of birth control. Rather than talk about the specifics of the case, though, everyone would rather act as if it was a crushing blow that meant any employer could opt out of BC coverage and women will never be able to obtain it. Oh, the horror!

Calm down, kids. You’re basing your entire argument on a lie that has turned into hysteria. Discrimination? Please. Some forms of birth control are already incredibly cheap. I have diabetes. I have to take medication and check my blood sugar multiple times a day. My insurance covers birth control of all kinds, including the morning-after pill, at 100% – drugs that I will never use. I can’t opt out of it by saying, “hey, I’m a gold-star lesbian, I don’t need this stuff.” It only covers about half the cost of my diabetes medications, glucometer, and test strips, which I need to stay healthy and alive. THIS is what I call discrimination: not being allowed to opt out of birth control coverage because I am a woman, yet not getting the same kind of coverage for life-saving meds.

Where the hell are our priorities? Birth control is so important that the government wants to require insurance companies to cover it completely, but the drugs that help keep me alive have to be paid for out of my own pocket at rates that far outstrip the cost of BC before insurance pays a dime.

Whiskey tango foxtrot…?

To be fair, Uncle George is correct on a couple of things. Hobby Lobby does have 401(k) retirement plans that are invested in pharmaceutical companies that produce the morning-after pills. They also have a lot of products that are made in China, a country that places a strict cap on the number of children a family can have and forces abortions and sterilization once that limit is met. Is that hypocritical? Absolutely. Not exactly the best thought plan in the world.

The SCOTUS decision is hardly discriminatory, and to call it such is just this side of being a base lie. Nobody is saying that these companies can fire someone for taking BC. Nobody is saying that these companies can pry into an employee’s medical records to see if they are using BC. Nobody is saying that they can opt out of insurance that covers any and all forms of BC at all. There is absolutely nothing about the ruling that allows any business to impose the owners’ religious views on employees. What they are saying is that companies should not be required to provide insurance that covers abortifacient drugs. If I can afford my diabetes meds on my salary, you can afford the less expensive Plan B pills on yours (which I promise is higher – public safety doesn’t pay as much as you think).

I still haven’t figured out when our society decided that private businesses are subject to the government’s every wish and whim. I’m struggling to understand why people think the government should have such control over businesses that the people who own and manage them have absolutely no say in what the company will offer their employees or invest in. A free market does not take such rights away. This kind of attitude is exactly what is driving business to move overseas in the first place.

Uncle George, I still love you. I just wish you would have thought about this before you went off the deep end about it. I am a woman and I see absolutely nothing discriminatory about the decision. What I DO see is a society bent on chipping away at basic rights and freedoms. That needs to stop.