Hobby Lobby Stores, an arts and crafts chain, plans to defy the federal mandate requiring insurance coverage for certain forms of contraception, even though they will pay a whopping daily fine of $1.3 million beginning January 1. According to the company’s attorney, Kyle Duncan:
“The company will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees. To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.”
The Oklahoma-based chain is owned by a Christian family, the Greens, who have the misguided belief that emergency contraception causes fetuses to abort. They maintain that to provide such coverage would cause them to compromise their religious beliefs. The controversy centers on Plan B, also known as the ‘morning after’ pill, and the longer-acting Ella, known as the ‘week-after’ pill. All the scientific evidence shows that neither drug has any effect on fertilized eggs. Rather, they temporarily stop a woman from ovulating so that no egg is released.
Hobby Lobby and its sister company of bookstores, Mardel, already lost the lawsuit against the government in District Court in November, on the basis that they are not religious organizations. Plus, the U.S. Supreme Court just denied them an injunction against the mandate while they appeal because they don’t meet the legal standard that defines an emergency.
Perhaps one reason the companies can afford the enormous fines is because they are receiving free legal representation from The Becket Fund For Religious Liberty. The fund’s mission statement says:
“The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit, public-interest legal and educational institute that protects the free expression of all faiths. The Becket Fund exists to vindicate a simple but frequently neglected principle: that because the religious impulse is natural to human beings, religious expression is natural to human culture.”
The fund in engaged in multiple lawsuits against the federal government and is currently using the Hobby Lobby case in a fundraising appeal, complete with a video of various members of the Green family who are all officers in the Hobby Lobby company.
The right of the companies to pursue their lawsuit through the lower courts was reaffirmed by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor this week. That’s where a battle will unfold on the main issues: the view that emergency contraceptives are abortive, the fact that neither the Green family nor the companies they own are religious organizations, and the fact that employers do not have the right to impose their religious beliefs on their employees.