Oral arguments for Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, the case looking at whether corporations should have the right to deny their employees contraception coverage, start in front of the Supreme Court today. While behind-the-scenes organizers for the plaintiffs seems largely interested in an expansive view of corporate power, right-wing media has largely used the case as an opportunity to float the idea that there’s something gross and sinful about contraception itself. Monday, Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano took it to the next level, blowing past the routine lies about the contraception mandate covering “abortion” to argue that it also covers “euthanasia.” Here’s what Napolitano told Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly:
As everybody knows, the Affordable Care Act requires anybody that employs 50 or more people to provide health care for them that includes contraceptive services. Contraceptive services means contraception, euthanasia, and abortion.
Of course, this is not true. The contraception mandate requires health insurance plans to cover Food and Drug Administration–approved contraception methods. Luckily for us, the FDA provides a handy list of the kinds of contraception methods it officially approves. Needless to say, none of them are euthanasia. Of course, none of them are abortion, either, but that hasn’t stopped conservative commentators from claiming otherwise. So, while you’re just making stuff up, why not go for broke?
Ever since the Department of Health and Human Services first listed contraception as part of the minimum standard of service that your insurance company must provide for you in exchange for your premiums, conservative pundits have been exploiting the development to demonize the use of contraception in and of itself. It started, famously, with Rush Limbaugh calling contraception advocate Sandra Fluke a “slut.” Later, Mike Huckabee argued that, by supporting contraception coverage in insurance, Democrats are saying women “cannot control their libido.” And any greatest hits must include Dana Loesch calling plans that cover contraception “hosurance” and Michelle Malkin chiming in with “Floozycare.” That the escalation of rhetorical attacks on contraception led Napolitano to equate it with euthanasia is actually pretty predictable, under the circumstances.
All of which is why this Hobby Lobby case is about more than just whether corporations should be able to dictate how employees use their compensation packages based on the religious beliefs of shareholders. Certainly, the crowd outside of the Supreme Court today believes that this is a broader culture war issue. If Hobby Lobby wins, it will validate this campaign against reproductive rights and embolden conservatives to step up their attacks. If Hobby Lobby loses, however, it will hopefully remind the right wing that, for most Americans, contraception isn’t controversial and signal to conservatives that they might want to let this one go.