Hobby Lobby’s contraceptive case heads to Supreme Court

A Hobby Lobby store (photo credit: Fan of Retail on Flickr)
A Hobby Lobby store (photo credit: Fan of Retail on Flickr)

A Hobby Lobby store (photo credit: Fan of Retail on Flickr).

On November 26, 2013, the U.S Supreme Court decided to take the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. At the heart of the case is the question of whether for-profit organizations with religious beliefs should be able to opt out of providing contraceptives that violate those beliefs.

Hobby Lobby’s website states, “At Hobby Lobby, we value our customers and employees and are committed to: Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles.” Like another popular Christian-founded company, Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby chooses to honor the commandment of maintaining the Sabbath by keeping its stores closed on Sundays. That decision alone shows Hobby Lobby’s commitment to putting principle over financial gain.

Hobby Lobby is currently refusing to cover four potentially life-terminating contraceptives to its employees under the Affordable Health Care Act. These drugs are the Plan B morning-after pill, the emergency contraceptive Ella, and two kinds of IUDs, or intrauterine devices, that sometimes work by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting into the uterus.

As they say on their website, to provide these objectionable drugs and devices would be to violate the deeply held religious convictions of the owners of the family business, the Greens. The Greens believe that life begins at conception and refuse to partake in any plan that would hinder or destroy life.

While it’s easy to assume that the Greens are against all forms of birth control, the family has no objections to the 16 FDA-approved contraceptives required by law that do not interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg. Those contraceptives are already provided for under their health care plan.

As the Huffington Post reports, “dozens of companies have sued the Obama administration over a rule in the Affordable Care Act requiring most employers – with the exception of churches and religious non-profits – to cover the full range of contraceptives in their health insurance plans.”

The Green family has expressed hope that the Supreme Court will recognize their sincere, deeply held religious convictions and apply the law in a way that protects those beliefs. Earlier this year, the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in their favor, recognizing that the Greens “allow their faith to guide business decisions.” The Tenth Circuit, located in Denver, said forcing Hobby Lobby to comply with the contraceptive mandate would violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 law providing special protections for religious expression.

Kyle Duncan, general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents Hobby Lobby, told Fox News, “This is a major step for the Greens and their family businesses in an important fight for Americans’ religious liberty.” “We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will clarify once and for all that religious freedom in our country should be protected for family business owners like the Greens.”

The White House released a statement defending their stand, saying, “The health care law puts women and families in control of their health care by covering vital preventive care, like cancer screenings and birth control, free of charge.” “We believe this requirement is lawful and essential to women’s health and are confident the Supreme Court will agree.”

If Hobby Lobby loses the case, it could be fined up to $1.3 million a day for refusing to provide the coverage. Oral arguments have yet to be scheduled. The court said the case will likely be heard in March, with a decision being announced before June 2014.

Whatever the Supreme Court decides, I’m proud of the owners of Hobby Lobby for not backing down on their beliefs.

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