By Marc Jampole
Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to allow privately held companies to opt out of covering contraception for their female employees pretty much delivers the 2016 presidential election to the Democrats, which probably means Hillary Clinton.
The numbers (which come from the Gutmacher Institute) speak for themselves:
· 99% of all women, aged 15-44, have used at least one type of contraception in their lives.
· 62% of women of child-bearing age currently use some form of contraception, including 77% of married women.
In other words, women, like men, like to have sex, but don’t want to risk pregnancy every time they engage in the act with a member of the opposite sex. That’s a lot of voters who will find a large aspect of their private lives theoretically threatened by this decision.
The New York Times is reporting that both Democrats and Republicans are going to make the Hobby Lobby decision a key campaign issue. The Times article says that the Dems will hope the decision compels more “liberal” Americans to vote in the mid-term election, which pretty much misses the point: contraception is not an issue to liberal women, but to virtually all women, regardless of their political beliefs.
The many fine people who believe that contraception is wrong for religious reasons are entitled to their opinion. They just aren’t entitled to impose their opinion on others—at least not until yesterday’s disappointment.
What about the individual right of the company owner who believes that contraception is wrong, you may ask? Why does he (or she—but we’re talking about mostly men) have to pay for the heathen, immoral ways of employees?
For the same reason that everyone has to pay for health insurance that covers free annual physicals, pap smears, vaccines for children and flu shots. For the same reasons that children have to have vaccines to be allowed to attend school, why everyone has to have certain vaccines before traveling to certain countries. It is in the best interest of society to cover preventive medicine for individuals and to institute preventive public health measures for the entire population.
Birth control prevents unwanted pregnancies, which lead to greater social problems and more poverty, exacting tremendous costs on society. Birth control is also safer and costs less than going through a pregnancy. I’m not saying that pregnancy is bad, only that it can lead to complications that are harmful to women and which no woman should have to suffer unless she chooses to do so.
The greater interests of society and of the overwhelming majority of individuals should overrule the right of corporations run by individuals to distort the marketplace by injecting their religious beliefs into the social contract they have with their employees. But the Roberts Court once again has basically shredded the constitution to give more power to the powerful.
It’s easy to blame the Roberts Court for yet another of many recent decisions that assert that corporations have greater rights than individuals, especially those corporations run by individuals. But let’s not forget that Supreme Court justices are nominated by Presidents and that George W. Bush nominated Roberts and Alito. Bush, who won 500,000 less votes than Al Gore, won the electoral college in the 2000 elections because of the substantial turnout of voters for the third-party candidate Ralph Nadar in key electoral battlegrounds. Ralph Nadar is as much to blame for the current Supreme Court as Karl Rove, the evil genius who decided to cast his political fate with the dunderhead Bush or Supreme Court Justice Sandra O’Connor, the swing vote that decided to hand the Florida electoral votes to Bush instead of getting a recount. I often condemn this trio—for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American torture gulag, the Citizen’s United decision that has unleashed untold corporate dollars to influence elections and the many other depredations of the Bush II-Cheney regime.
Nadar was right that there isn’t much difference between the two major parties. Most of the Baby Boomer Democratic candidates are on the left only to the degree that they are left of Republicans. And why wouldn’t the Democrats tend toward the right wing--they feed at the same corporate troughs as Republicans do and those troughs have gotten much bigger since Citizen’s United. But despite being slightly right of Dwight Eisenhower except on gay and women’s rights, the Democrats still tend to do more to help the poor, elderly, unemployed and disenfranchised than Republicans do; still have more interest in obtaining legal equality for LGBT, women, minorities and immigrants; still exercise some moral constraints on the darker aspects of our essentially imperialistic foreign policy; still tend to support more gun control; and still favor using regulations and taxation to slow down and address the effects of global warming.
The Reagan revolution gradually moved the country to the right over 30 years. Moving it leftward so that we have a European-modeled social democracy may take just as long, if not longer, but the first step unfortunately is to elect the current group of Democrats—mangy and conservative as they are. We can’t get rid of the truly disgracefully right-wing Dems like Andrew Cuomo or Joe Manchin while they can point to their Republican opponents as worse yet.
The current political landscape exists because of two stupid decisions by voters in whose best interest it is to support the progressive agenda. The first stupid decision was to vote for Nader in 2000 and the second was to stay home for the 2010 mid-term elections. Let’s hope they don’t make those mistakes again.