Hobby Lobby, as a decor and crafter’s paradise, is pretty impressive. I’ve gone there several times to pick up a variety of items and was surprised to see they weren’t open on Sundays. This and their stance on the morning after pill may be a clue to the management’s religiosity. According to the Huffington Post, they are suing “Obamacare” because of the Supreme Court upholding the mandate to provide for birth control which includes the disputed morning after pill.
Because they don’t want to provide this healthcare need to women, there is now a backlash. A petition is being signed at Ultraviolet, a women’s activist site, and various other groups on Facebook and Tumblr are calling for a boycott.
Hobby Lobby stands to lose 1.3 million in fines per day if they lose their lawsuit, which apparently they think is worth fighting for. The question is if the morning after pill is not acceptable then where is the limit? Catholic-owned Hercules Industries is also appealing the required coverage for the morning after pill and why wouldn’t they? It seems they would object to coverage for any sort of birth control.
It appears the fines may not matter to the management of Hobby Lobby in regards to their faith. In their FAQ they answer why they are not open on Sundays: We have chosen to close on the day most widely recognized as a day of rest, in order to allow our employees and customers more time for worship and family. This has not been an easy decision for Hobby Lobby because we realize that this decision may cost us financially. Yet we also realize that there are things more important than profits. This is a matter of principle for our company owner and officers.
I have to commend them for their convictions since my local Christian bookstore remains open on Sundays, a situation I have found to be a point of hypocrisy all the way back to my younger days as a Christian. However, healthcare is a very personal issue for women and these are not moral decisions Hobby Lobby can make for others. Remember that some birth control pills act as abortifacients anyway and so it really should be a coverage ban on all birth control if Hobby Lobby is to be consistent with this conservative pro-life stance. And, taking it further, if prayer is used for the purposes of healing why should Hobby Lobby offer coverage at all if it were not mandated? The morning after pill as well as general birth control usurps god and so do doctors and medical science.
Women in control of when they conceive make for a better society. We can argue abortion healthcare coverage rights all we want as it is larger in scope, but I think the morning after pill is a reasonable request for women to make as we work on reforming healthcare.
SIDNOTE: I know there is a question in all this about the freedom of the business to make its own decisions and I’m not going to pretend there are easy answers. In the past, businesses were free to exclude certain ethnic groups from being hired or from being patrons and some of this was due to religious convictions. We’re seeing the same issue come up with the hiring of gay people by Christian ministries who claim it violates the Bible. A libertarian position would be to let the business do anything it pleases and a liberal position is that we are allowed to control some business practices. The Republican position, from the comments I’ve seen about Hobby Lobby, is more of a cultural/holy war against Obama.
I wish I could believe that allowing businesses to do whatever they want was the way to go. I do read about plenty of corporations that do the right thing. But in terms of healthcare, letting the business have the final say scares me. If Hobby Lobby can disallow the morning after pill then that is a legal precedent where other businesses can follow suit not just on the morning after pill but maybe a new drug for AIDs patients (claimed to be the gay disease by some conservatives) or other medications deemed to be evil. Maybe we need to take one step at a time, but it sure seems like we are progressively falling behind in America (as if the morning after pill should be a controversy in the first place!). Compromises do have to be made, I mean hasn’t Hobby Lobby had to hire atheists and other nonreligious misfits due to rules on hiring without prejudice? Aren’t these same misfits entitled to proper healthcare coverage without religious bias if it is to be provided? Not all of Hobby Lobby’s employees are pro-life Christians.