Hobby Lobby plans to face $1.3 million in daily fines for defying contraception mandate
An attorney representing the Hobby Lobby chain of arts and crafts stores said that the company intends to defy a court order that it comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s provisions regarding contraceptives, the so-called “morning after pill” and employee health coverage. According to Associated Press, the company says that it is willing to face the up to $1.3 million in fines it will accrue per day by not providing coverage for the medications.
The arch conservative Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby and the religious bookstore chain Mardel, maintains that allowing anti-conception medications like the “morning after” and “week after” pills is tantamount to supporting abortion. The family is being represented in court by Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a Christian legal group dedicated to fighting issues of this kind of the nation’s courts.
“The company will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees,” said Beckett’s Kyle Duncan. “To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.”
Emergency Contraception (EC) drugs do not induce abortions, but rather prevent pregnancy by keeping a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. An abortion terminates a pregnancy, whereas with EC medications, if used properly, pregnancy never began.
On Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor denied Hobby Lobby’s request for an injunction against the ACA, also known as “Obamacare.” Sotomayor said that the company’s religious objections to the law did not rise to the level of the demanding legal standard required to grant an injunction against a lower court ruling.
“While the applicants allege they will face irreparable harm if they are forced to choose between complying with the contraception-coverage requirement and paying significant fines, they cannot show that an injunction is necessary or appropriate to aid our jurisdiction,” she wrote.
Some religious institutions have won exemption from the contraception mandate, but last month U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton ruled that Hobby Lobby was not entitled to the constitutional protections for faith-based institutions in matters of principal. A chain of hobby stores, however pious their owners, Heaton said, does not qualify as a religious institution.
[image of birth control pills, courtesy of Flickr/brains the head, Creative Commons licensed]