The latest tactic of corporations with evangelical CEOs is a continuation of last year’s attempt to ban American women from using birth control as a result of President Obama’s inclusion of contraceptive coverage in the Affordable Care Act. At issue is whether a secular corporation with no business relationship or involvement in a religion can be considered religious and force its employees to follow the corporation’s religious beliefs and be prohibited from using contraceptives included in prescription coverage in health plans. The President gave religious organizations and churches permission to ban their employees from having access to contraceptives, but it still did not satisfy the neo-christian fascist wing who sees the wingnut Court as their ticket to impose, by Constitutional fiat, their religious convictions on their employees. It is noteworthy that the push to ban contraceptive use is being pressed by evangelical men who avoid using IUDs or hormonal birth control pills by choice, but their personal choice is not the issue; eliminating women’s choice is.
In the President’s healthcare reform, any company with more than 50 employees is required to provide health insurance coverage, including prescriptions for contraceptives, and to acquiesce to christian extremists the President exempted some religious institutions; churches and ministries were always exempt. One Pennsylvania christian cabinet maker claimed that his company is christian and does not have to provide contraception coverage because the prescription mandate violates the company’s right under the free religious exercise clause in the First Amendment as well as the company’s protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Last week the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the contraception mandate despite the company owner, like Hobby Lobby’s CEO, claimed contraceptives are abortifacients. An abortifacient is a drug that causes a miscarriage, but contraceptives such as intrauterine devices (IUD) and hormonal birth control pills prevent pregnancy making the religious fanatics arguments a violation of all known medical and biological science. There is a large contingent of religious extremists who consider any miscarriage tantamount to premeditated murder and have attempted to pass laws imprisoning women who miscarry regardless it is a common biological process.
Writing for the 3rd Circuit’s majority, Judge Robert Cowen said although there was “a long history of protecting corporations’ rights to free speech,” there was no history of protecting a company’s free exercise of religion. “We simply cannot understand how a for-profit, secular corporation can exercise religion. A holding to the contrary … would eviscerate the fundamental principle that a corporation is a legally distinct entity from its owners.” A few weeks ago, the Colorado-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby Stores finding that corporations are entitled to assert religious rights and impose them on their employees. The court specifically noted that President Obama had offended the company’s religious beliefs with the contraception requirement. Now that there is a split between the 3rd and 10th Circuit decisions, it falls to the Supreme Court to rule if a corporation has the Constitutional right to impose its “religious convictions” on its employees.
Since the highest court in the land is going to decide whether or not a secular corporation has the power to impose its religious beliefs on its employees, they will likely have to consult the source of the corporation’s religious dogma; the christian bible. According to all anti-contraception and anti-women’s choice advocates, their “zygote is a person” assertion is founded in their conviction “to serve jesus by being an Advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves, the pre-born child.” In their mission statement, PersonhoodUSA claim their goal is to force all Americans to “respect the god-given right to life by recognizing all human beings as persons who are “created in the image of god” from the beginning of their biological development, without exceptions.” However, the christian bible they claim supports their, and religious corporations’, advocacy and contention that personhood begins at the moment of conception does not in any iteration support their argument driving their assault on women’s rights to choose their reproductive health.
The religious right’s premise that the instant a living sperm penetrates a living ovum, and the resulting zygote, is a human life, or that a 20-week old fetus is viable outside a woman’s uterus contradicts the god christian extremists claim to serve. First, the Supreme Court’s ruling that a fetus meet the requirement of viability outside the womb destroys the 20-week ban on abortions Texas just enacted. But biology aside, religious extremists ignore a simple and very clear definition of a person uttered by their bible’s deity and is the only source the Supreme Court should consult in deciding if contraceptive coverage violates a corporation’s freedom to impose their religion on its employees.
According to the christian bible book of Genesis, chapter 2, verse 7, “The lord god proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and it was then that the man became a living person.” Plainly, taking a breath defined the first man as a human life, and doubtless a zygote is incapable of taking a breath of life. In Ezekiel 37:5-6 the bible reiterates god’s words in Genesis; “Thus says the lord god to these bones: I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live.” The bible even clarifies that a fetus, regardless the stage of development, is insignificant compared to the life of the mother. Exodus 21:22-24 states that “if a man causes a woman to have a miscarriage, he shall be fined; however, if the woman dies then he will be put to death” and it is obvious the deity did not consider a fetus a living human being, or that causing a miscarriage, or abortion, qualified as a capital offense. However, harming or taking the life of the mother warranted death instead of just a fine.
The entire evangelical argument that a zygote, embryo, or fetus is a person is, according to their bible, as crazy as the notion that a corporation holds deep religious convictions they can impose on their employees. Still, in their crusade to force all Americans to fall under their theocratic purview, evangelicals, corporations with religious convictions, and repugican misogynists are attempting to impose a christian version of Sharia Law without objection or pushback from Democrats from the President down to state legislators.
Despite the sole argument to ban contraception, abortion, or any woman’s reproductive health choices has as its basis religious dogmata, there is no opposition based on the Constitution’s prohibition against imposing religion by government fiat. It is bad enough that the fanatics’ arguments are not scriptural, or ever mentioned by their namesake jesus christ, but the cowardly reluctance to cite the unconstitutionality of imposing religion is stunning. If Americans cannot recognize that just considering whether or not religious fanatics, and now corporations with religious convictions, have the power to impose their religion on other Americans, then the nation is one ruling or new anti-choice law away from becoming a theocracy to rival the other major theocracy in the world; the Islamic Republic of Iran and their dastardly Sharia Law.