Hobby Lobby: Political Hypocrisy

by Maureen Fiedler

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The Catholic bishops and right-wing Catholics might be cheering the ruling in the Hobby Lobby case on June 30 … but they should temper their rejoicing -- fast. (In this case, the Supreme Court -- in a 5-4 decision -- said that for-profit companies do not have to provide contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds.) There are game-changing, under-reported facts about Hobby Lobby. 

According to Petula Dvorak in The Washington Post, and Mother Jones (April 1, 2014), “Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012—three months after the company's owners filed their lawsuit—show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k).” 

These are some of the very contraceptives to which Hobby Lobby objected in this Supreme Court case.   

Talk about hypocrisy! There are plenty of investment firms that screen out such holdings, but apparently, Hobby Lobby did not choose to use them. Interestingly, the Vatican (which officially opposes all birth control) also did not screen investments to meet their own moral pronouncements, and it was found to have invested in contraceptive manufacturers in 2009.

So, we are left with the question: what’s the real reason for the Hobby Lobby suit? Was it financial? Did they not want to pay for contraceptives?  Was it political? Did they want to “score one” against Obamacare? Was it patriarchal? Did they want to put up obstacles to women making their own reproductive decisions? (Incidentally, Hobby Lobby’s health plans will continue to cover vasectomies and Viagra!)

When you think about it, this was a ridiculous Supreme Court decision. Since when can profit-making companies claim a religion? Or religious beliefs? Whatever the Supreme Court says, corporations are NOT persons! 

For the record, polling done on this question weeks before the decision shows that all segments of the U.S. population (except white Evangelicals) opposed the substance of this decision. That includes Catholics, especially Catholic women (who, as anyone who reads polls knows) use artificial contraceptives at the same level as women of other religious traditions.

And although Justice Alito (who wrote the majority opinion) tried to limit its scope, it raises questions about other medical procedures to which some people have religious objections: vaccines, blood transfusions, etc. This decision may have opened Pandora’s box for other lawsuits.

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