By Gaetana Drake
The most recent attack on American women comes from a nation-wide chain of craft stores. Hobby Lobby has over 500 stores in 41 states and employs over 13,000 people. The chain is owned by the Green family, who has now filed a lawsuit concerning insurance coverage for birth control.
Twenty-six states already required insurance to cover birth control prior to the Affordable Care Act being passed. There have been no lawsuits filed in those states requiring such coverage. The majority of the states that have this requirement, have an exemption for “religious” employers. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I believe that by “religious” employer, they are referring to a business whose basis is religion. A religious bookstore, for instance. Most of these states have had these requirements in place for many years, without a problem. It’s just since the far-right extremists started this war on women, that other employers are trying to deny basic health care coverage for women.
Hobby Lobby doesn’t have a problem with all birth control methods. They are objecting to the ones they believe cause “abortions”. That includes the pill and the IUD. These methods don’t stop an egg from being fertilized, they simply prevent the fertilized egg from implanting itself in the lining of the uterus. They also happen to be the most commonly used and most effective forms of birth control.
The Affordable Care Act has exemptions for “religious” employers, those being ones whose primary purpose is the promotion of their religious beliefs. I just don’t see Hobby Lobby falling under that category, do you?
I’ve been in the Hobby Lobby store in Modesto. It’s a great store. It certainly doesn’t give the impression of being a “religious” store. I had planned to purchase some Christmas decorations there. I’ll be doing that shopping at Michaels now. I will not spend my hard earned dollars at a place that denies basic health care coverage to the vast majority of its employees.
I wonder what the next step will be? Will there be a religious test to work at Hobby Lobby? What other parts of their religion will this family try to force onto its employees?
If you work for a business owned by a Mormon family, will they deny health care coverage for the illnesses caused by tobacco and alcohol use? The Mormon faith doesn’t allow the use of alcohol and tobacco.
Many people argue that the problem is letting the government mandate what an employer can or can’t do. The government already mandates that an employer can’t sexually harass an employee, or discriminate based on the many protected categories (race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity….). In many religions practiced right here in the U.S., females are considered subservient to males. Would we allow that religious belief to spill over into the workplace? The government “mandates” many things that benefit us all. Overtime pay and safe work environments, to name just two.
I have nothing against any religion. But I believe religion should be practiced in your church and your home. Not the workplace, particularly when it is to the detriment of your employees.
Women make up 51% of U.S. citizens. We also make up 53% of registered voters. I think it’s a safe bet to say they make up over 65% of Hobby Lobby employees. I wonder how those employees feel right now.
I may be a bit misguided here, but I would think that any employer would look at this from an economic point of view. I used to work for an employer who did not provide coverage for birth control. I actually kept track of how many unplanned pregnancies occurred in our workforce each year. We would cover the pregnancy, the hospitalization, the well-baby check-ups and continue coverage for the child up to the age of 19. The employer had a “self-funded” insurance plan, meaning that we simply paid a company to administer the plan, but up to a certain dollar amount, the employer paid the medical bills incurred by employees. We could have saved tens of thousands of dollars every single year I worked there if we had just covered birth control. We could have saved additional payroll expenses by not having to have replacement workers for the women who were on leave to have babies.
It is so much less expensive to cover birth control than it is to cover unplanned pregnancies. It’s simple economics. You save money and you have happy employees because they are able to control their reproductive lives.
Guess when my former employer finally decided to cover birth control? You got it…when Viagra came on the market! And why was that? Because Viagra was something men wanted! Well, pay attention – women want birth control!
And on a side note – Rick Berg, a candidate for the Senate from North Dakota….voted for a bill that would sentence women who have abortions (and the doctors who provide them) to life in prison. Life in prison without the possibility of parole! With no exception for rape, incest or the life or health of the woman! Do you still believe there is no war on women?