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Hobby Lobby, the 13,000-employee arts and crafts chain, says it will ignore two court rulings and defy a federal mandate that companies must offer health insurance to workers that covers birth control, including Plan B, the morning-after pill. The defiance could cost the company $1.3 million a day in fines. Hobby Lobby is self-insured and must begin compliance as of Jan. 1.

The 40-year-old Hobby Lobby labels itself a "biblically founded business." It has 500 stores in 41 states that are closed on Sundays. Of the two dozen or more companies that have filed suit over the mandate on similar grounds, Hobby Lobby is the largest and only one not owned by Catholics.

Hobby Lobby made its decision after a ruling Wednesday by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor denied the company an emergency injunction while its lawsuit works its way through the appeal courts.

The company's owners say they should not have to comply with the Health and Human Services requirement because it impinges on their religious beliefs. Imposing their religious views on their employees doesn't bother them, however. They argue that they are not against covering contraception, in general, but oppose Plan B because, they claim, it causes abortion. That is bunk except to folks who think a fertilized egg is a baby. In fact, the progestin levonorgestrel used in Plan B delays or prevents ovulation, blocks fertilization or prevents implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterine wall.

None of that constitutes abortion. And none of it is Hobby Lobby's business.

Under health care reform, employers must include contraception in their employees' health insurance policies, without charging a co-pay or deductible. Exemptions have been granted for houses of worship as well as religious-affiliated institutions such as non-profit hospitals. But the Catholic bishops have argued that even secular businesses should not have to cover contraception if their owners have religious objections.

Hobby Lobby's lawyers took that idea to court in September and had it shot down in November by U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton. In a 28-page ruling, he stated that Hobby Lobby and a sister company, Mardel, don't qualify for exemptions since they are private businesses:

“However, Hobby Lobby and Mardel [its partner company] are not religious organizations,” the ruling states. “Plaintiffs have not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that secular, for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.”
Hobby Lobby's owners don't seem to get that they don't own their employees. They hire them. As such they should stick to selling paints, glue and glitter, and making multi-million-dollar contributions to Oral Roberts University instead of mucking about in the personal lives of workers who have helped make them rich.

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Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 10:12 AM PST.

Also republished by Sexism and Patriarchy, In Support of Labor and Unions, Abortion, Sluts, Pro Choice, and Daily Kos.

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