Birth Control Not Same as Blood Transfusion

by Wesley J. Smith

I have long given up on those who loudly claim the mantle of “rationality” on the left actually being rational. They are political. It is their lifeblood.

Example: In the wake of the clearly correct Hobby Lobby decision–based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a statute signed by Bill Clinton and passed by overwhelming bipartisan margins–I have heard tripe that the decision would permit Jehovah’s Witness employers to refuse to cover blood transfusions since that church’s theology is opposed to transfusions.

Nonsense. First: Birth control is elective, and indeed, I would argue not a “medical treatment,” but rather, a “consumerist” prescription or procedure (with the rare exception, perhaps, of women for whom a pregnancy would be life threatening.).

A blood transfusion, in contrast, is unquestionably a medical treatment and is almost always non-elective, e.g., it is necessary to save life or preserve health of the patient needing the transfusion. If you think that this distinction is wrong, note that the law can force blood transfusions upon Jehovah’s Witness children when necessary to save life. It can’t (yet) force children onto birth control.

Second: The RFRA does not provide that the state can never force individuals to violate their religious beliefs, but that when it does so, there must be a compelling state interest. The state clearly has a compelling interest in requiring such coverage–assuming regulations were passed to so do–generally not existent with birth control because such transfusions are usually needed to save lives or preserve health.

So, there really is no proper comparison here. The bitter complaints about the Hobby Lobby illustrates, as so often happens these days, that the political left prefers demagoguery to discourse.  

For more of my take on the RFRA, see here.