Thursday, April 3, 2014

Certain Unalienable Rights

I am sure that if you are at all aware of news in the United States, you have heard something of the Hobby Lobby issue. In a nutshell...Hobby Lobby has filed a lawsuit over a federal mandate requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Women have a constitutionally protected right to use birth control. But nothing even in the new Affordable Health Care Act guarantees that they can or must get it from an employer. (source)

I am really not going to delve into whether or not I personally think contraceptives are right or wrong. Nor whether or not employers should have to pay for contraceptives for their employees.

No, the term that bothers me is the right of. The term that is being thrown around over and over.

A right is a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way. And we do have rights in this country.

Thankfully, this country is founded on rights and our right to even have rights. But, I am not really seeing where contraception or employer-provided contraception is mandated by our founding fathers.

There are rights that transcend governments. The rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those are not given by men to men. Those, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, (and ratified by 55 other men) are truths that are self evident, and endowed (given) by the Creator.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
-Declaration of Independence, July 1776

I suppose if you don't believe in a Creator, you could dispute those rights. And people have. They have disputed them and tried to suppress them.

There are ideas generally held as basic human rights. All of those rights have been granted to us by our highest law in our land, the United States Constitution. Most of what is considered basic human rights are protected in the section commonly known as the Bill of Rights. Noticeably lacking in that Bill of Rights, is a right to employer provided contraception or even contraception period.

-Bill of Rights Summarized, aka first 10 Amendments of the United States Constitution
1 Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.
2 Right to keep and bear arms in order to maintain a well regulated militia.
3 No quartering of soldiers.
4 Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.
5 Right to due process of law, freedom from self-incrimination, double jeopardy.
6 Rights of accused persons, e.g., right to a speedy and public trial.
7 Right of trial by jury in civil cases.
8 Freedom from excessive bail, cruel and unusual punishments.
9 Other rights of the people. 
10 Powers reserved to the states

There are absolutely times when it is wrong not to stand up for our rights and the rights of others. We should stand up against basic human rights violations. That is our responsibility and privilege and right.

I would argue that this is not one of those times. This is not a war on women or on women's rights.

I think it can very well be argued that contraception would fall under the umbrella of life, liberty (freedom to choose and practice), or the pursuit of happiness. (not having contraception could hinder your pursuit of happiness). I would absolutely concede that.

But to insist that it is your right that someone provide either free or low-cost contraception for you-well, frankly, that is a stretch. Or to insist that it is your right that someone provides a certain type of contraception for you-that is really a stretch. Not a right.

It is my right to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. They are both currently freedoms. No one is insisting employers pay for them. It is my right to eat whatever I want, but no one is required by law to give me handouts. McDonalds isn't required to give me a #5 value meal because I want it. They aren't even required by law, regulation or basic human rights, to give free food to their employees.

A privilege is a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.

I think sometimes we make the mistake of calling our privileges rights. When in fact, they are only privileges.

Employer provided contraception would be a nice perk for some, I'm sure. But it is just that...a perk. A privilege. A right under our laws? Not so much.

When the idea of rights is considered, it must be realized that there is generally a give and take. A yin-yang. Two sides of the coin. That to insist on a right could encroach on someone else's right. This begs the question, on a national level, whose rights outweigh whose?

But, taking it down to a purely personal rights question and leveling the playing field to either all rights or all privileges, we have Christ's example to follow.

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:1-11)

Jesus is the Son of God and is equal with God. He set the example of humbling Himself, over and over and over again. God-man-servant-death-death on the cross. He gave up His rights and position for our salvation. There is no yielding of our rights that we can yield that touches that. There just isn't.

What do you think?

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