Because apparently even craft stores can’t keep their politics off of women’s bodies, Hobby Lobby is suing Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services over the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. Now where am I going to go to find ten aisles of color-coordinated Christmas ornaments?!
I think we’re all used to the song and dance put on by the Catholic church and various Catholic businesses over the ACA’s birth control provisions, but this is the first timewe’ve seen a major public business flip over it. Anyone who’s been inside a Hobby Lobby can tell that it is an undoubtedly Christian outfit. In fact, they are an Evangelical Christian outfit, which we haven’t really heard from in the birth control debate. Pick any aisle and chances are you’ll run into a cross, a piece of Scripture, an angel, or all three. The aforementioned ten aisles of Christmas ornaments are only part the Christmas consumer wonderland the store transforms into every winter (or autumn, as it seems to come out earlier every year). There are Bible-themed breath mints at the checkout counters and, like the infamous Chick-Fil-A, the store is closed on Sundays. Aside from alienating those who are of other religions or who are not religious at all, which may not really be the best business practice, there isn’t an issue with any of this. They can choose what they sell and consumers can choose whether to shop there. However, just because they’re an admittedly Christian business doesn’t mean that they get to make contraceptive decisions for their female-bodied employees.
Like other opponent of the mandate, Hobby Lobby and its founder David Green’s objections are based on the idea that life begins at conception. Some forms of birth control, such as IUDs and the morning after pill, keep a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, so opponents consider these methods to be abortifacients. Yes, any birth control which could possibly keep a fertilized egg from wandering over to the uterine walls is regarded the same as an abortion would be. And honestly, if someone personally believes that even in the face of science and logic, that’s fine. They can make their own choices for their own bodies based on that. It’s why I’m pro-choice. But the other reason I’m pro-choice is because I don’t allow for others to make that decision for any body that they do not inhabit.
David Green might take the same line as some of his partners in thought and insist that his employees can take whatever birth control they want, but he won’t pay for it. Requiring insurance provided by your employer as a condition of your job to cover women’s healthcare is not an outrageous request, first of all. Even if we’re going to play that game, it’s way more advantageous for a business to cover the comparatively small amount of birth control than to cover the huge cost of pregnancy, maternal healthcare, and healthcare for a child. I know if I were a greedy businesswoman, I’d much rather the insurance I offered my employers cover a $1,200 IUD that lasts for years than cover a $6,000 birth, but I’m a baby-killing feminazi who hates Jesus or something. The biggest issue here is that Hobby Lobby generally employs low-wage workers, albeit not as low as many similar retailers. And my guess is those workers are mostly women. Those women are probably worried about paying for rent and car insurance and utilities and maybe student loans. The $40 a month for birth control pills that so many conservatives think is insignificant may not be there for those women. I don’t even want to mention that many women, myself included, use birth control for health conditions such as endometriosis, poly cystic ovarian syndrome, irregular periods, and acne, because it shouldn’t matter if we’re using them to avoid pregnancy, treat health problems, or both (me again).
I have a feeling that this isn’t the last popular business we’ll see jumping into the political sphere, despite it not being the best business practice to alienate your consumers. One of the biggest fights in social justice right now revolves around battling businesses over personal beliefs, which is so absurd in this day and age. I guess that’s part of the Citizens United fallout, this having to fight corporations over basic human rights. Until that fight is over, at least I know where not to buy my glitter.