Hobby Lobby: We’ll Throw Away a Million Dollars a Day so Female Employees Don’t Get Comprehensive Health Care

As of the new year, the Christian-owned-but-secularly-run chain Hobby Lobby has to provide its employees with health coverage — including contraception (including birth control) — thanks to ObamaCare.

But the owners don’t want to do that and they’re prepared to pay a penalty of $1,300,000 a day to make sure they get their way:

All they’re asking for is a narrow exemption from the law that says they don’t have to provide drugs they believe cause abortions,” Hobby Lobby attorney Kyle Duncan, a general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told CNN affiliate KFOR in November. “Our basic point is the government can’t put a corporation in the position of choosing between its faith and following the law.”

I guess if corporations are people, corporations also have religious beliefs…?

There’s a major problem with Duncan’s statement, though, and Fred Clark does a nice job of summarizing it:

Duncan carefully says that the company should be exempt from covering medical care “they believe” causes abortion.

Duncan is careful to say that because he is aware that the drugs in question do not, in fact, cause abortion. Emergency contraception is just exactly that — contraception. It does not end or interfere with an existing pregnancy.

It doesn’t matter if the evangelical gazillionaire owners of Hobby Lobby “believe” that emergency contraception causes abortions. It does not do that.

This is how warped the Hobby Lobby owners’ mindset is: If they think birth control kills a baby, then it kills a baby, no matter what the science says, and they’re gonna pay a fine worth over a million dollars per day to make sure their delusions aren’t overruled by the government.

If you ever want proof that religion is bad for women, look no further.

It’s possible this isn’t even about abortion. Remember: Wheaton College (a Christian school) was perfectly fine with providing comprehensive health care — including contraception coverage — to its employees for a long time. They only began opposing coverage of these abortion-pills-that-aren’t-really-abortion-pills — and retroactively changing their own insurance policies — after President Obama told them they had to provide it.

No one’s asking Hobby Lobby to endorse, support, or advocate for abortions. Their only job here is to provide health coverage for their employees, and their employees have a right to decide how to use it. If this was a church or religious group, I wouldn’t be saying this. Hobby Lobby isn’t either of those, though, so they have to play by the rules.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://anonatheist.wordpress.com/ Mike Hunt

    I suspect they already throw away more than that by not being open on Sunday. I tugged on their locked doors once on a Sunday afternoon and that’s how I discovered they must be a christian organization. A business that will close their doors on the day of the week most of their potential customers have off is definitely serious about their religion.

  • Scott-K

    From their FAQ page: “Presently, Hobby Lobby is not a publicly-traded company and does not have plans to go public in the future.”

    That’s probably a good thing. Ethical considerations aside, share-holders would never stand for such a stupid business move.

  • Achron Timeless

    “If they think birth control kills a baby, then it kills a baby, no matter what the science says…”

    And this is new with religious folks how?

    If they think the world is a few thousand years old (and even argue amongst themselves whether it’s 10k or 6k) then it’s a few thousand years old, no matter what science says.

    If they think letting 2 guys get married to each other will bring on their god’s wrath because it’s a sin, then it’s a sin, no matter what science says or the fact that they’re still having sex anyway…

    If they think… Do I really have to go on?

  • Achron Timeless

    Gotta wonder though, is it by their choice or they’ve looked into how worthless their stock would be because of this kind of thing?

  • Michael

    Evolution in action, clearly this company is not fit to survive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

    I say good. Keep that up enough and they’ll be run out of business by two factors: the fines and the public backlash.

  • jose

    My religion demands they pay for contraception. Now what?

  • Ryan Jean

    Emergency Contraceptive (EC) is a tricky subject, especially when dealing with those who have somewhat-entrenched positions on the topic. I recently tried to talk my father down from a firm belief that EC not only caused abortions, but was the primary mechanism through which they operated. He was quite surprised to learn that there was any literature that disputed his position in the slightest.

    The first thing I noticed is that I prefer the medical definition of a pregnancy, namely that it begins at implantation, while he prefers the non-medical view that it begins at conception, so our views on what constitutes an abortion (since we both agreed the definition for that was the termination of a pregnancy) were already separated.

    The second thing I noticed was that he lumped all pills into one, despite a clear difference between “Plan-B” (progestin-only, or its predecessors which were a estrogen/progestin combination) and “RU-486″ (an actual abortion-inducer).

    The third thing I noticed was that he ignored the role of IUDs, which can function as both a long-term contraceptive and as an EC, despite that the majority do nothing to prevent ovulation (all the copper ones but not the newer hormone ones), and work instead through a combination of preventing fertilization and implantation.

    The disinformation is really centered on the “Plan-B” kind of EC, which is what is actually being covered by the mandate, and we should not let the anti-choice crowd confuse it (deliberately or not) with other medications. There, at least, we can be on solid footing when we say that it does not do what they claim it does.

    The problem, however, is that just like in conversation with my father, the whole thing gets stuck in definitional questions and science questions (even if the science is clearly on our side) when the real issue is the autonomy of women over their own bodies. Any time we allow the conversation to shift off the bodily autonomy issue, we are ceding the best ground to the regressive forces and allowing them to frame the debate; we need to deny them that, and as was excellently demonstrated by some (Matt Dillahunty comes to mind) we can make a compelling case for abortion rights and comprehensive women’s health coverage in insurance without entertaining the question of whether a microscopic clump of cells is equivalent (in legal, moral, or any other way than just genetic) to a conscious and intelligent developed human.

  • Robbo

    I know the Hobby Lobby owners are nutters, but no one is stopping their employees from getting contraceptives — they can go buy it themselves. Birth control is a predictable purchase, so it doesn’t need to be covered by insurance any more than ibuprofen, band-aids, or ice cream cones. Let’s not confuse health insurance with health care. I don’t accept their logic on ‘religious exemption’, or the Catholics’ either. But whether birth control pills, or condoms, they shouldn’t have to be forced to pay for it by the federal government any more than they should have to pay for ice cream cones.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Yup. They should only be forced to pay for mens’ things, because mens’ things inconvenience people who actually matter. Nothing women need is actual health care. That only applies to real people.

  • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

    Sorry, but the most effective contraceptives are not sold over-the-counter. Birth-control pills require a prescription, and IUDs and injections have to be gotten from a doctor. And even in the cases where the medication itself is reasonably affordable, the doctor visits required are not. Especially for someone trying to get by on the wages at Hobby Lobby.

  • Stev84

    FYI: birth control isn’t available over the counter in the US

  • Jeff

    “Our basic point is the government can’t put a corporation in the position of choosing between its faith and following the law.”
    So, if my “faith” says that I’m allowed to kill without cause or steal without consequence does that mean that the government can’t make those actions illegal? Of course not! The argument is ludicrous.

  • http://twitter.com/Very_Inspiring Very Inspired

    Here’s the thing: Hobby Lobby isn’t paying for health insurance for their employees. It’s part of the compensation for the employee’s work for them. Hobby Lobby is merely the convenient middle-man. It works in their favor because a company can work with other companies to save money on purchasing that insurance. The employee pays for it. Hobby Lobby can just as easily pay the employee the amount of money it would take for the individual to receive the same insurance, but this would cost a butt-ton more, so they don’t.

    So, here is a private company wanting to force private individuals to accept a change to their health insurance. It doesn’t matter if it’s about contraception or animal tested products or non-vegan pills. Hobby Lobby is using it’s position as a go-between to hold basic healthcare for other people hostage based on it’s owners private beliefs and agenda.

    And it’s morally reprehensible.

  • http://twitter.com/anothercrafter Teresa Schmidt

    “If this was a church or religious group, I wouldn’t be saying this. Hobby Lobby isn’t either of those, though, so they have to play by the rules.”

    Why should it matter if it was a religious group? It’s the (ridiculous) church exemption that gives corporations like Hobby Lobby the hope that because they claim “it’s not me, it’s my religion” they, too, can get away with denying their employees the right to do what they want with their own bodies. If a corporation can claim to give you compensation in the form of health insurance, and then limit what you can do with that compensation, then what next? Could a Jewish employer forbid his/her employee from buy ing pork with the money they earned by working? If I earn my money by working for a business owned by a teetotalling Baptist, can I use that money to buy myself a six-pack for Saturday night? Where’s the line? If my boss is truly religious, how can he employ me, a nonbeliever, and contribute to my heathen lifestyle by providing me with a paycheck?

  • Cecelia Baines

    I see two facets to this:

    (1) Hobby Lobby owners are absolute ****ing idiots and scumbags

    BUT

    (2) It IS a private company and the fact they are ready to sacrifice their money for their principles is actually something I respect. At least they know the consequences for their hatred and are ready to walk the walk.

  • primenumbers

    The whole idea of having birth control in there is to reduce unwanted pregnancies, which both cuts costs to healthcare (pregnancies are expensive) and cuts abortions too. The reason it goes on “insurance” rather than a more enlightened form of universal healthcare is that’s the system the USA is stuck with by now. Don’t let semantics rule your argument because there’s very sound reasons for including contraception as a part of basic healthcare.

  • primenumbers

    “It IS a private company and the fact they are ready to sacrifice their money for their principles is actually something I respect. ” – no, I can’t respect them for that because they’re wasting money which could be better spent on feeding people or even their employees who are not that well paid. HL is basically being indulgent with a luxury, not engaging in pious sacrifice. No respect for them.

  • Achron Timeless

    We’ll see how long that respect holds out when they realize how much this is costing them. Basically, this is the corporate equivalent of a hunger strike. It’ll end when they get hungry for money again, or starve to death.

    That is, of course, assuming the IRS or whoever grows a pair and actually takes the money from them instead of just letting them rack up an imaginary bill that’ll never be collected like our national debt.

  • Donatello

    It would be so sweet if whatever government agency collects these fines would be pragmatic about it and use the money to provide free contraception _plus_ abortions for Hobby Lobby’s employees.

  • Machintelligence

    If a corporation insists on cutting off their nose to spite their face (figuratively) I am more than willing to hand them a knife.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

    Birth control is sometimes used for other reasons than preventing pregnancy. Regulation of periods, reducing cramping and pain for examples. Obviously it’s nothing like paying for ice cream.

  • ReadsInTrees

    A friend on my husband recently said that is religion is against contraception…so he’s going to go get a vasectomy. Hm.

  • smrnda

    Keep in mind that evangelical Christians kind of live inside their own bubble with its own set of ‘facts’ – if Ken Ham says the world is 6000 years old, then it’s 6000 years old.

    Also, Hobby Lobby isn’t some benevolent agency doling out little gifts to people. It’s a businesses where the collective labor of ALL its workers generates revenue, and like a good Christian business, only the people at the top get to decide (undemocratically) what to do with the money, while the sheep get fleeced.

    I would totally support the workers walking off the job over this. I’d like to see this be a fight where Hobby Lobby loses in court, but I also would like to see workers themselves engage in resistance.

  • smrnda

    I’m not sure how anything being a ‘predictable purpose’ makes it something that insurance shouldn’t cover – it’s ‘health insurance’ not ‘medical disaster insurance.’ It’s meant to cover both preventative screenings, regular checkups, wellness AND emergencies. I mean, I have epilepsy and my meds are a ‘predictable purchase’ – does that mean I should have to spend 500 of my own money a month?

    Plus, it isn’t the federal government paying these. It’s the workers who pay premiums in this case

  • ortcutt

    When the Supreme Court decided that corporations were people, they probably never considered that corporations would have religious beliefs. I wonder what religion IBM is? Catholic, Jewish, Episcopalian? Has IBM been baptized? Does it have good seats for High Holidays? I mean, these are the important question you need to ask when you’re talking about the religious freedom of corporations.

  • Ryan Jean

    I actually agree with the quote; I simply deny that a corporation can have a religion. Therefore in my view the government by default isn’t putting the corporation in such a situation, but merely insisting that it follow the same reasonable laws as all other corporations…

  • allein

    “Birth control is a predictable purchase”

    Then that reasoning should apply to any prescription medication that is taken on a regular, ongoing basis. Or does it only apply to things that aren’t “necessary”? Who decides what is necessary? Insulin, yes; antidepressants, no? They’re predictable purchases as well. Should I have had to factor $180 a month into my retail-worker budget for several years to pay full price for perfectly legal, prescribed medication that some might think is unnecessary or harmful? What if my company was run by Scientologists? Would they get to decide no psychiatric drugs for me?? What if you are taking BC to treat a medical condition and not simply for preventing pregnancy? Should you have to share your medical records with your employer to prove you are taking it for an “allowed” reason? (Which I have read stories of people having to do, which forces them to waive their right, by federal law, to medical privacy – my employer has no business looking at my medical records unless I have a condition that directly affects my ability to do my job and I need them to make some accommodation for it; then they can ask for proof.)

    It’s a prescription medication; it should be covered like any other prescription medication. Condoms and Advil are not prescriptions (though my job’s benefits include the option to set up a health savings account and pay for those sorts of things with pre-tax money, so to an extent, they are covered in a different way). It’s also a hell of a lot cheaper than paying for the costs associated with pregnancy and childbirth.

    Also, my health insurance plan that I get through my employer is part of my compensation. They are not “paying for my insurance”; they are paying part (not all; I pay some as well) of the premiums for a group plan (group plans are cheaper for everyone) in exchange for the work I do for them. They have no more right to tell me how to use it than they do telling me how to spend my paycheck.

  • Robbo

    1. we all know there are various birth control measures, of varying effectiveness available over the counter

    2. just because you need a Rx for BC pills, does not mean you need someone else to pay for them.

    3. various BC measures obviously have more utility than ice cream cones, but is it the federal government’s job to dictate that an employer pay for one but not the other?

    4. Health care does not equal health insurance. You can get healthcare without insurance — but then again it’s always easier to spend someone else’s money.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    So if corporations have religion than is there a branch of Hobby Lobby in heaven or is there a corporate office of Microsoft in Hell? Can Starbucks take communion, or can
    Morgan Stanley be forgiven of their trespasses as they forgive the trespasses of others?

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    Both Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad – 118 U.S. 394 (1886) and Pembina Consolidated Silver Mining Co. v. Pennsylvania – 125 U.S. 181 (1888) justify corporate personhood under the fourteenth amendment.

  • allein

    Most people without health insurance do not get basic healthcare. Then they end up in the emergency room with much more expensive issues because they couldn’t afford to get them treated when they were minor. Like it or not, our current system means that “healthcare” access is intimitely tied to a person’s health insurance status.

  • Daniel_JM

    Just stop please. You are not doing yourself a favor with your ridiculous analogies and lack of understanding of healthcare and the law.

  • DougI

    $100 a day per employee, I hope every employee remembers that next time they don’t get a decent pay increase.

  • allein

    Never studied etymology, did he? ;)

  • Cecelia Baines

    False dichotomy. How they choose to use their money has no bearing on “what should be done with it”. The opposite of using it selfishly is not using it selflessly. It is a matter of using your own resources how you want.

    I think the owners are assholes, but, it is their money as so far as they walk the walk and take the hit financially, I CAN respect the fact they are standing on principle – now, I disagree with the principle, but they at least are showing consistency, and yes, that is worthy of respect.

  • Achron Timeless

    And here I thought the first post was simply naive. This one just confirms you’re regurgitating someone else’s rhetoric without understanding what you’re actually saying.

    Your “arguments” are nonsensical when compared to reality. As Daniel already said, you’re not doing yourself any favors here. You are however providing a fair bit of entertainment, so if you feel the need to grace us with more words of ‘wisdom’ then I shall continue to spread joy by laughing at them.

  • Cecelia Baines

    Of course, until that point they fold, I shall respect the fact they at least have the stones to “walk the walk”. If and when they fold, then I shall be first in line to call them hypocrites and buttonholes. But as we cannot prove the existence of any particular future event, this remains a moot point.

  • Cecelia Baines

    buttonholes? Fuck this auto-check thing! That was supposed to read BUTTHOLES!!!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    hobby lobby is everything that’s wrong with the shopping experience in america today. not only because of the corporate religion thing, or the low, low wages they pay their employees, but esp b/c everything in there is crap made in a factory by slave labor overseas somewhere. and it’s all junk no one really needs. sure, they carry art supplies, but i’d rather go to a real art supply store than patronize them. i have family members who go apeshit every time they walk in that place; it sickens me.

  • Achron Timeless

    Which way will it go? Unknown, but hardly moot. They’re going to feel the pinch at some point and give this up, or go out of business trying.

    The only ways out of those two inevitabilities are if the government never collects and the fines are meaningless, or if a bunch of equally braindead religious organizations decide they’re going to handle all of the company’s bills from their own pockets.

    The latter wouldn’t surprise me at all if it were attempted, though those funds would dry up eventually as well, but the former seems more likely. Being such a high profile defiance of the courts, I’d be shocked if they didn’t follow through and collect. Worse case scenario, the company’s assets are seized and everyone is out of a job and have no healthcare benefits anyway. Now that would make the whole process of forcing them to provide proper insurance a moot point.

  • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com/ Jaynn

    I wonder how many of their employees don’t make that much to begin with.

  • primenumbers

    I acknowledge they’re standing for a principle, but cannot respect them for that, just like I know my kind is standing on a principle when they have a tantrum over something, and that doesn’t get my respect either.

  • Barbara

    If Hobby Lobby wants to throw a hissy fit and have to pay huge fines in return, great. Let the idiots go out of business.

  • ortcutt

    That’s what I’m referring to when I say that the Supreme Court decided that corporations are people. Unlike a natural person though, I fail to see how a corporation can have a religion.

  • Randomfactor

    Well, to be fair, the fine money WILL be going to an agency which WILL use it to the betterment of Americans: The United States Government.

  • ortcutt

    Since it’s a fine, it will be collected by DOJ, not by IRS. Believe me when I say that DOJ doesn’t sit around waiting to collect unpaid fines from corporations that have the ability to pay. They’ll attach bank accounts if they need to.

  • primenumbers

    They will use it for sure, but I doubt for betterment of all Americans. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/Freemage69 Freemage

    Folks, Robbo here is clearly a Lying Libertarian Lackwit. Allow me to elucidate:

    1: He’s deliberately choosing to rely on a semantic option–since the U.S. happens to refer to the overall method by which most Americans receive health care as “insurance”, rather than acknowledge that this is a semantic drift–which includes not only the classic insurance model, but also one closer to a pre-paid maintenance model AND a buyer’s club model, and argue the pros and cons of that larger model, and propose an alternative to it–he instead insists on an argument that says that anything that doesn’t fit the narrower insurance model should be discarded on purely semantic grounds. His goal is the traditional libertarian one of saying, “Screw the poor, I got mine.”

    2: He obviously is fully aware of the semantic nature of his argument, but he insists on presenting it as if it were something of substance. This is deliberately disingenuous, as are most semantic debates. He knows what we mean when we talk about “health insurance” in the U.S.; he just wants to derail the conversation into a minor point where he hopes to distract from the more substantial debate, where he knows his views aren’t merely in the minority, but largely considered reprehensible. The inherent dishonesty of this tactic marks him as a liar.

    3: This attempt is, of course, painfully transparent, like a five-year-old who insists that since you only said he shouldn’t eat the cherry pie before dinner, he was totally in the clear to eat a pan full of brownies, I consider him a lackwit.

    The above is also why I’m not bothering to address him directly, but merely the other members of this board. His follow-up post makes it clear that even when called on his dishonesty, he’ll just double-down and pretend no one said anything. Seriously, it’s not worth the effort to continue the discussion.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    Private doesn’t mean you don’t have to follow the law.

  • Barbara

    Isn’t that a crying shame for humanity? That’s one of my biggest problems with Christianity – it puts an absentee god’s supposed wishes over what’s in the best interest of actual people. I feel so sorry for Hobby Lobby’s employees. It can’t be easy working for such a heartless lunatic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arthur-Bryne/100002441143047 Arthur Bryne

    I’m not so convinced about the choice of grounds. Though it may be the more important, the question of bodily autonomy is an “ought” proposition; depending on what particular is-ought bridge is used, it may be that favoring the fetal opportunity for development over women’s bodily autonomy is a genuine logical consequence of the person’s primary premises. On the other hand, the question of whether “Plan B” works by preventing ovulation or by preventing implantation is an empirical question of the “is”; it doesn’t require agreement on the preference ordering of options. While the acceptance of women’s autonomy as a general notion might be preferred, recognizing that the question of use of Plan B does not involve the choice between fetus and woman facilitates acceptance of Plan B, which in turn partially increases women’s effective autonomy in one specific way.

    It also seems a useful form of triage. If you can’t get someone to agree even on “is” questions, persuasion on “ought” questions seems much nearer a hopeless prospect.

    Of course, strategic preferences are an ordering relationship over choices, and thus dependent on your is-ought bridge selection….

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    “government can’t put a corporation in the position of choosing between its faith and following the law” Of course they can. The government can always place the law over faith. Jehovah’s Witness doctors are require to give blood transfusions. Muslim doctors are prohibited from performing female circumcisions. An exception can be written into the law, but if it isn’t, then you have to buck it up and follow the same law that the rest of us do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arthur-Bryne/100002441143047 Arthur Bryne

    The existence of local churches with corporate charters (EG: Vineville Presbyterian Church of Macon, GA; mentioned in Jones v Wolf) would appear to indicate your categorical denial is contrary to existing US case law. This leaves open the question of whether a corporation can have a religion other than in the case of an incorporated church.

    Myself, I suspect that the legally stronger arguments are that such indirect support is not a substantial burden on the exercise of religion, that freedom of religious exercise does not allow forcing one’s own religious practices and prohibitions upon third parties, and that the requirement is a neutral law of general applicability and thus (in accord with prior SCOTUS precedent) may permissibly infringe incidentally on religious action.

  • coyotenose

    Oh, no problem! You see, they are more important and have more civil rights than their employees (including some they made up) by virtue of having more money.

    No really, that’s their entire underlying argument when the obfuscations are stripped away.

  • curtcameron

    I’m starting my own religion, and its key religious tenet is that the minimum wage is an abomination. No bottom-tier employee should make more than what a sweatshop laborer in Shenzhen makes.

    Do I get an exception to federal minimum-wage laws?

  • coyotenose

    Recently there was a story arc in the webcomic Sluggy Freelance in which several evil supervillain corporations joined forces to combat a mutual threat. One corp changed ownership after its founder died, coming under the control of mutants whose intelligence had been reduced by the mutating agency (and they weren’t very smart or practical people to begin with, merely minions.) The mutant leader, suspicious of one of his partners, bought a thermobaric bomb on the black market to smuggle into said partner’s base “just in case”.

    The partner found out about this duplicity, but, being a supervillain himself, was not offended by such a tactic. What offended him was that the mutants went out of their way to buy an unnecessarily expensive weapon of mass destruction when a black market nuke would be far cheaper and just as effective, if not moreso. That, he argued, showed that they were irrational enough that he couldn’t trust them as partners.

    Guess which so-irrational-and-dimwitted-that-it-had-to-be-explained-by-mutagenic-brain-damage party in this story is analogous to Hobby Lobby.

  • rlrose328

    It is entirely possible that the workers are of the same mindset and would fight WITH Hobby Lobby. It’s a crafter thing… I do scrapbooking and it is FILLED to the brim with religious ladies. Same with knitting, sewing, and other crafts. Those ladies yearn to be employed at Hobby Lobby and its counterparts, Joann Crafts and Michaels Crafts.

  • coyotenose

    Don’t presume to know my medical needs; my desire for ice cream cones is highly unpredictable.

    However, the odds that I will require ice cream cones DO significantly increase during and just after sex.

  • John (not McCain)

    The money they pay for insurance for their employees isn’t their money. It’s part of their employees compensation and is taxed as such. It’s no different than if they were trying to tell their employees what they can spend their cash compensation on.

  • coyotenose

    It’s even worse than what you’re describing. You would have to (in the name of your religion so as to avoid personal responsibility for your demands) tell other companies that they have to charge your employees more for purchases.

  • coyotenose

    Yes, this.

  • Robin

    Nicely said!

    The government should be setting the rules the protect and look after all citizens equally. Any organizations, companies, churches, or whatever can overlay that with their own silliness but they should not be able to change foundational protections.

    A high-tech firm, for example, could offer additional insurance as incentive to hire talent, and stipulate what that insurance pays for. But they should not be able to take away the base benefits mandated by the government for all citizens.

    A religious group, school, or church can offer additional benefits to pay for adoption or whatever they want, but should not be allowed to tamper with the underlying benefits offered to all citizens.

    This would be like a transportation company seeking exemption for their drivers to go above the speed limit because it suits them.

    Sorry. The base laws and benefits apply across the board, you can only add your own stipulations on top of those, not change the ones underneath.

  • Ryan Jean

    That’s a very nuanced answer and it does touch on an important angle. Thank you for the insightful response.

    My point isn’t that the science is unimportant because it’s the lesser concern (or because one is an “is” while the other is an “ought”), just that we spend far too much time playing a defensive game when we’re on the “does this cause abortion” ground (or the “is this clump of cells appropriate to recognize as a legal person” one).

    The opponents of reproductive rights want to play on that turf because they can employ the F.U.D. (fear;uncertainty;doubt) card almost endlessly, and crowd out the other issues with clever but ultimately meaningless rhetoric. It’s the Gish Gallop of women’s rights issues. Whenever possible we need to bring the topic off that and back to the base issue of bodily autonomy because that puts them on the defensive to have to explain in the most uncomfortable ways possible why they think women should be controlled by men and by the state more. It doesn’t mean we ignore the science side; we just use it as reserve ammunition rather than the main salvo.

    On the science we win, but science alone is not enough to shape policy because not nearly enough are swayed by facts and statistics. We need to win the rhetoric battle, too, and championing the right of women to control their body even half as much as men take for granted with their own is a way to do so (plus it’s such a reasonable, defensible ethical position).

  • SJH

    Please explain the difference between the two drugs you mention. Does “Plan-B” not kill a fertilized egg? What does it do?

  • gina

    Good for them they should not DEFY GOD. “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.” Thomas Jefferson

  • Ryan Jean

    Plan B is one of the market names for the most commonly-utilized Emergency Contraceptive (EC) pill [another name is Next Choice, and they're generically called "morning after" pills]. In particular, it is a progestin pill, for which the primary purpose is to disrupt ovulation, therefore preventing an egg from being available for fertilization. It is the same drug used in the most common formulations of the daily pill, just in a more concentrated dose.

    In addition, it is also suspected but not clearly evidenced that it may disrupt the process of fertilization by preventing the sperm from reaching the egg, perhaps by changing the amount and/or viscosity of mucus. The final claim, however, is that it disrupts the process of implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterine wall, thus preventing a pregnancy (in the medical context) or aborting a pregnancy (in some religious contexts).

    In studies specifically designed to determine the effects of Emergency Contraceptive on an already-fertilized egg, however, there was no evidence that it changed anything. In other words, even by the religious definition, it did not eliminate a pregnancy, but rather stopped it from happening in the first place. This is why the pregnancy rates on the pill are extremely low, but not zero, and why the time period after unprotected sex is so important for the “morning after” uses.

    RU-486 is a completely different kind of pill, however, and in the U.S. (and most of the world) is much harder to get than the morning after variety. It is actually a chemically-induced abortion, as it will both disrupt the implantation process and eliminate a pregnancy (as defined medically), resulting in the loss of said fertilization/pregnancy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=625329520 Debbie Walker

    So where does the $1 million plus a day go? For as long as they can afford to pay it, that is. Say they stay in business for 90 days at that rate some government agency is up over $100M so who profits from the fines? If we all shop there we could keep them in business longer and pay off a chunk of the deficit? Or use the money to create programs for poor women to get their own insurance. Or training programs for employees to find other better jobs.

  • coyotenose

    Contraception is not mentioned even by implication in the Bible. Abortion is not mentioned as a crime or sin, but rather as a Hebrew medical procedure… except when a man accidentally causes another man’s wife to abort by injury, in which case he has to pay a small fine SPECIFICALLY TO THE HUSBAND. Indeed, the Hebrews even said that a child wasn’t alive until it breathed air. Please learn to read your misogynistic book.

    Thomas Jefferson had no use for Yahweh. Google “Jefferson Bible”. And stop either blindly repeating quote mines or quote mining (lying), whichever it is you are doing. You can’t fool anyone here, but only make a fool of yourself.

    Oh, and that “Defy God” thing? Since there is no word in the Bible supporting your contention, you are claiming to know God’s will. Therefore, Google “false prophet”. While you’re at it, ponder why you speak confidently about arguments you are wholly ignorant of.

  • SJH

    If a person owns something isn’t is their religious right to choose prevent that thing from being used in a way that infringes on their religious beliefs. If I own a company isn’t it my right to make sure that that company does not do something that infringes on my religious beliefs? If I think that certain medications or procedures are immoral shouldn’t I have the right to decide to provide coverage that does not pay for such procedures? This should be especially true if, as an employer, I pay for my employee’s insurance. It is not like we are talking about a past era when some people used religion to justify slavery. We are talking about the luxury of being able to have sex without having to worry about becoming pregnant.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    I honestly don’t think that those questions are important in this debate. The government can not be in the debate about which religions or which religious views are valid or invalid. Just because you or I can’t understand how a corporation has religion, doesn’t mean it can’t.

    The two questions that are I think are the important ones are.

    1) Do corporations have personhood? (I don’t believe they should. Individuals within the corporation have rights.) But if corporations have personhood, then religious freedoms are automatically granted, even if other citizens don’t understand that religion.

    2) Is the government placing an overdue burden on Hobby Lobby (or if personhood isn’t granted to Hobby Lobby, is the government placing an overdue burden on the members of the corporation? Again, I don’t think that the government is doing that. They are not singling out Hobby Lobby nor is it that substantial of a burden. Paying for health care coverage that might include contraceptives isn’t a greater burden than paying an employee who then buys contraceptives with that money.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    What if instead of contraception, this was about pollution. What if a a company thought that since their religious views state that “man has dominion over the earth” that it was right to dump whatever, wherever, whenever. Would you still respect them for standing up their principles?

    Hobby Lobby isn’t only sacrificing their money, but also the money and health of their employees.

  • SJH

    In your third paragraph you state that it prevents pregnancy. Is this the “medical definition” or “religious definition” of pregnancy as you state?

    On a side note, it is interesting that you draw a distinction between the medical definition and religious definition. I think, however, that this distinction is inaccurate representation of the debate. It causes the debate to be framed in terms of pregnancy and not human life. I don’t think the pro-life community cares when the “pregnancy” begins. The issue is when does human life begin?

  • ortcutt

    Some rights only apply to natural person in virtue of characteristics that can only be held by natural persons. Corporations don’t have 19th Amendment rights because they can’t vote. I’m arguing likewise, that corporations can’t have Free Exercise rights because they can’t have a religion. Natural persons can have a religion, but corporations can’t.

  • coyotenose

    On a tangent here, but if corporations have personhood, then all laws that grant benefits to incorporating are Unconstitutional.

  • J-Rex

    I have noticed that the confusion regarding EC comes from the idea that conception occurs right after sex. People assume that you have sex and conception happens on one night and then over the next few days you take a pill to make sure that it doesn’t implant. This partly from lack of education on the subject and perhaps partly from the desire to see sex and procreation as a beautiful, holy event. They’d rather believe that a child was conceived at the end of this beautiful expression of love, than to think that a few days later, the woman ovulated and there was some left over sperm, so it just happened, maybe while she was washing the dishes or driving to work.

  • J-Rex

    It’s obvious that the issue here isn’t really about abortions. I’m sure that plenty of people have pointed out to them that they’re wrong and that the science is showing that it does not cause abortions. And since they’re Evangelical, they wouldn’t really have a problem with birth control. It seems like Catholics and Evangelicals have really been teaming up lately on these issues to fight Obamacare. Staying strong and refusing to let reality get in the way.

  • coyotenose

    The insurance is compensation. This is identical to telling employees how to spend their paychecks*. Furthermore, it is interference between the employee and the insurance provider; the employer is uninvolved in that transaction. Furthermore, it is an invasion of medical privacy to try to manipulate that relationship. Furthermore, it is an infringement upon the religious freedoms of the employee.

    If you think sex is a “luxury”…. well, Jesus. You do know that it’s the expression of the basic purpose of living creatures? That it’s unnatural, invasive and vile to try to control its expression in consensual adults? You DO know that, right?

    *This situation is virtually identical to a company owner in a small town deciding that drinking alcohol on Saturday is immoral, and based on that decision, giving every local store a list of his employees and using his influence to demand that those stores not sell alcohol to anyone who works for him on the assumption that they might drink it on the wrong day. THINK ABOUT THAT FOR A FUCKING SECOND.

  • Shockna

    Easy. You don’t matter. You’re not a Job Creator™.

  • monyNH

    Also, in certain states, boy corporations can only merge with girl corporations. ;)

  • phantomreader42

    No, no, no, you should RENT them a knife, at an extortionate price, and make sure it’s dirty and soaked in poison. That’s the free market way!

  • phantomreader42

    The medical definition reflects REALITY. The “religious definition” is a pack of idiotic delusions and lies. Religious nuts regularly screech that a fertilized egg is somehow a person, but even fetus-fetishists aren’t usually stupid and crazy enough to claim that human life begins BEFORE conception. The only way you can claim that preventing fertilization ends a human life is if you think life begins BEFORE THE EGG IS FERTILIZED. And if you think that, then you’re obviously too much of a lunatic to be qualified to make YOUR OWN medical decisions, much less anyone else’s.

  • phantomreader42

    Should an employer who’s a jehovah’s witness be allowed to prevent his
    employees from buying health insurance that covers blood transfusions?
    Should a christian scientist be allowed to mandate that employee health
    plans will ONLY cover prayer, not actual medical treatment? Health
    insurance is part of the compensation package. If the employer doesn’t
    want to provide REAL health insurance,
    they can just admit it, instead of demanding that they be allowed to
    promise employees health insurance but give them FAKE plans that don’t
    cover what they need covered. The christianist goons at Hobby Lobby are
    allowed to sell their employees phony insurance plans that don’t cover
    treatments that they were perfectly happy to cover before it became
    politically convenient to screech about “obamacare”, but they can’t call
    it health insurance, because it ISN’T. Pretentative care, including
    contraception and vacccines, IS healthcare, even if the invisible man in
    the sky is pissed off about it, and a health plan that doesn’t cover
    healthcare isn’t worth the shit-stained toilet paper it’s printed on.

  • smrnda

    I haven’t met anyone who worked for Hobby Lobby, though I know many Christian employers vet hires (particularly management) to make sure that no Undesirables end up hired who might start trouble (or a union.)

    All said, I have a rule that I won’t work for anybody who is overtly Christian (not that I’ve had to worry in my line of work.) They’re always scrooges when it comes to money and frequently preach the virtue of ‘sacrifice’ (meaning ‘do more work for less money.’) At least all the ones I’ve ever encountered were pretty much like that.

  • smrnda

    Someone ELSE pay for them? You mean after I put in 60 hours a week and pay my $120 for my insurance that they should turn around and NOT cover something for which there is a legitimate medical use? Nobody ELSE is paying for my birth control any more than someone ELSE is paying for any of my other meds. I am PAYING for my insurance, and the money my employer has is because me and other employees work.

    Or what, when women work and create the revenues that then get doled back to them by their employers, then various women-specific health needs should be denied since Mr Man thinks ‘it’s not a need.’ Care for people to examine all your health needs and decide what they think is a luxury that THEIR premiums and tax money shouldn’t cover? Shouldn’t INSURANCE COMPANIES with their actuaries decide what should be covered?The cost benefit analysis is already in. ALL insurers agree that covering contraception is best for them and their members.

  • smrnda

    Sorry, insurance companies are under no obligation to offer health care plans tailored to your religious beliefs.

    Also, ‘your company’ exists and makes money because workers work. If you’re running it as anything but a democratic cooperative, you’re trying to undemocratically use resources which were generated through people’s collective labor. You don’t ‘pay for’ their insurance – where did these revenues come from? Everybody just sat around while you conjured up a pile of money that you now decide to give people as a free gift? If you want to deny workers health care with contraception, they should go on strike, and I’d encourage everybody I knew to boycott such a business.

  • Baby_Raptor

    You spend other peoples’ money every time you step outside. You didn’t build the roads you travel on. You didn’t fund the food you eat, or the air you breathe not being polluted, or the water you use being clean. Your own healthcare is co-funded by other people. You have no qualms about other peoples’ money when it’s spent on you.

    You just don’t think women deserve the same thing. And yes, it’s bullshit.

  • Baby_Raptor

    They’re not sacrificing for their principals. They’re throwing a fit because they can’t force their false beliefs on someone else. That’s not noble. Bankrupt them. They deserve it.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    “Butt-ton”…

    Is that what you get when you mix a “butt-load” and a “shit-ton”?

  • Sue Blue

    I seriously doubt whether Hobby Lobby’s christian corporate overlords are fasting, praying, donning hair shirts, shaving their heads, walking over hot coals, or even missing out on a single golf game or catered dinner in their “stand” for their oh-so-righteous principles. They’ll just chalk up the fine as a loss and claim it on their taxes, raise their prices to cover it, or take it out of their employees’ already meager paychecks.
    Fuck them and their principles.

  • Ryan Jean

    In your third paragraph you state that it prevents pregnancy. Is this the “medical definition” or “religious definition” of pregnancy as you state?

    If you’ll notice, I said precisely that “even by the religious definition” it prevents the pregnancy from ever happening in the first place. By the medical definition, which as PhantomReader42 noted reflects reality rather than superstition, it was not even close to a pregnancy since that doesn’t begin until implantation, but even by the religious interpretation it prevents conception therefore it is still not a pregnancy in those cases.

    You call them pro-life; I’ll do that only when their actions match the label. I think it more accurate to refer to them as “anti-choice” since they are all about coercion and control of women’s bodies, even when not talking about abortion at all, or perhaps “pro forced birth” since they don’t seem to care about either the woman or the child after that.

    As for the question of “when does human life begin,” what is the agreement on what constitutes a human life or not? Breathing? Thinking? A functioning nervous system? A heart? A vaguely-vertebrate body shape? Or is it a clump of a few dozen cells that need to attach, quite parasitically in fact, to a host for months in order to have a chance at developing into something we would even be able to differentiate from a blood clot without advanced tools? If you’re in Arizona, you might be considered legally pregnant before conception. Of course, sperm and egg were both “human” and “alive” prior to conception, which I suppose makes menstruation into murder and masturbation into genocide… My point isn’t to poke fun, but to show that the situation is complex enough that utilizing superstition to create a magic demarcation line is utterly worthless in a situation defined by a gradient.

  • Ryan Jean

    Excellent point, J-Rex!
    The whole reason that the “morning after” pill even works is because in so many cases the sperm are there before the egg is even released, and conception is usually a few days after the sex that made it possible. This isn’t an easy one to tackle, though, as I think you’re precisely right that religion often views sex as some sacred act, therefore they must act as if conception occurs in the first 1-2 seconds after ejaculation or it seems too distant of a link.

  • Stev84

    SHJ is just a stupid trollfuck. And here he proves it again. He should be ignored.

  • walkamungus

    The Blue Screen of Death was definitely a product of Microsoft’s Hell branch.

  • AxeGrrl

    I might be mistaken, but I don’t think Cecelia meant the money that goes to insurance ~ I think the “their money” Cecelia is talking about is the $1,300,000 penalty that Hobby Lobby will have to pay each day.

  • AxeGrrl

    You mean he’s getting neutered so that he can *gasp* have sex without worrying about pregnancy?

    I’m shocked by the hypocrisy, I tell you, shocked!

  • AxeGrrl

    They’re perfectly free to do that…….then they’re going to suffer the legal consequences for doing so, as they should.

    It’s pretty simple.

  • Little G

    When Hobby Lobby goes under & all those employees lose their jobs & maybe the only means they have of feeding their children the owners can claim it was “God’s will.”

  • John_in_Vegas

    Why do you suggest that an exemption to the healthcare law (or any law for that matter) is OK for a church or religious group? The law was passed for the good of the people, using sound judgement from medical professionals, economists and other educated and reasonable people, whereas the objection on religious grounds offered none at all. We cannot allow religion to guide the legislation in this country when there is clearly no benefit to the people to do so.

    We are fighting so many battles on this front because we fail to draw a distinctive line between what we know to be reasonable, scientific and medical jurisprudence and the fantastic assertions related to an ancient system of beliefs.

    It is time to stop placating religion for the sake of religion, especially when the health and well-being of others may be at stake.

  • Blacksheep

    Everyone here is talking about abortion, women’s rights, etc. – what about the fact that they are a self-made, private company, and the government should not force them to do something that goes against their beliefs? That’s what they are fighting.

  • Blacksheep

    So you don’t believe in freedom at all – from this post it seems like you believe that everyone should be forced to behave in a certain way – your way – or else we should “bankrupt them” because “they deserve it.”

  • SJH

    It is precisely this attitude that perpetuates the negative stereotypes that people have of atheists.

  • SJH

    Those that argue a human life begins before conception are just being silly and I don’t know of any person who actually makes that argument.

    I’m not sure where you think superstition comes into play. Either a fertilized egg is a human life or it is not. That is purely a scientific question? I would venture to say that a fertilized egg, whether implanted or not, is still a human life. That is the only logical point at which we can say that a new person is constructed. Any other point along the life span of that being is simply a distinction invented by us in order to suit our wants or agenda.

    The parasitic nature of the newly fertilized egg has nothing to do with anything. A human person is not defined by how it sustains life.

    I refer to the pro-life movement as such because they believe that a life is present in a fertilized egg and attempt to defend that life. The pro-life movement would refer to you as anti-choice because the unborn human is given no choice. Interesting how we all use a play on words when it is really irrelevant to the real discussion. This is not politics it is science. Does it really matter what we call each other?

    Also, I believe you are highly inaccurate when you say that pro-lifers do not care for the women of infants after birth. What is your basis for this accusation? It seems to me that there are plenty of charities which service new mothers who need aid. My wife and I have been involved with one and I know there are many others.

  • SJH

    I think you are making judgements about people which are unfounded. I don’t think people are blinding themselves as much as you would like to think. It is my understanding that people are against the morning after pill because it potentially kills a new life if the egg does get fertilized before the pill is taken. Is the possibility of this occurance real or fabricated? (For myself, I am morally opposed to birth control so the distinction is irrelevant to me but I think it is an interesting discussion.) If it is in fact simply another form of birth control and does not present a danger of killing a fertilized egg than I think that your average evangelical should not have any religious objections to it.

  • Laylou

    You said that you are morally opposed to birth control. Are you morally opposed to it when it is used to treat medical conditions like, Endometriosis, Polycystic ovary syndrome, and other disease which birth control is used? I worry when people forget that some of us women have to use birth control to manage a disease and if that is not covered by our insurance we have to pay a lot of money for our medicine. Not every woman taking birth control uses it for “birth control”.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    For myself, I am morally opposed to birth control

    We can’t have recreational sex AND no birth control AND medical intervention to save babies’s lives AND a stable human population.

    Which of those do you think should go?

  • Witchgawd

    It’s cheaper for most people to get insurance on their own rather going through their employer. I know it is for my wife and family. We need to stop requiring employers provide health insurance and this wouldn’t even be an issue. Atleast I know where not to spend one penny when looking for hobby related supplies. Ignorant evangelical twits.

  • smrnda

    So, if my self-made private company decided to start demanding new hires perform sex acts with employees with more seniority as part of their training, the government should let that slide too? Can a company choose to pay workers in ‘company money’ that can be redeemed only at the company store, and demand that they live in the company dorm? Should my restaurant get an exemption from food safety inspections because I don’t believe I should be subjected to them?

    The government should legislate relationships where parties have unequal levels of power.

  • Leslie

    Birth control can indeed cause abortions.
    That is why birth control is referred to as abortifacient:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiCU46_lWeE

    When you say Hobby Lobby has to “play by the rules” whose rules are these?
    If the CEO’s religious beliefs are that contraceptives are sinful then last I checked our religious freedom allows him to practice his belief system in America.


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