3/4 of Hobby Lobby's investment funds include contraception, abortion services

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2014/07/01/three-quarters-of-hobby-lobby.html

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So… will they abort their investments plans?


Pretty dubious logic here. The money in the 401(k) fund belongs to the employees who choose which funds to invest in. The employer match money also belongs to the employees–though some of it may be retained by the fund if employees leave before they’re fully vested. Maybe it’s a little inconsistent that they allow their employees more choices for their retirement funds than their health plans, but philosophical consistency is a liberal hang-up.


OK, I’m gonna get flamed and shouted at, but how many people have been given the impression that Hobby Lobby didn’t want to cover any contraception? I’ve certainly been hearing a lot of shouting that they are depriving their employees of any means of family planning.

In fact they always covered 16 of the 20 contraceptives required by the law, and have never had a problem with that. The ones they didn’t cover were the ones that they believe cause abortion of a fertilized egg; in their mind, a person.

Now, one can certainly argue against their stance, but let’s make sure we’re arguing about what they are actually doing. And depriving their employees of contraception is not what they were doing. In other ways, like a living wage, they are quite a good company to work for.

Once again, I’m not saying there’s nothing to argue about, but that it’s a much narrower issue than it seems.


That depends entirely on your perspective.


Explain. It seems to me that “rejecting a few forms of contraception” is a narrower issue than “rejecting contraception”.

If you’re a male in the market for some viagra or a vasectomy; it makes no difference what so ever.

If you’re a dirty slut who wants to hide her shame woman who wants to make choices about her own body; it makes all the difference in the world.


You’re really determined that HL is trying to keep contraception away from its employees. Regardless of evidence to the contrary.


“Home Accents”? Is this some kind of veiled racism?

And this strawman changes the fact that they invest in the “abortive” drugs and actual abortions that they claim to oppose how exactly?


Could we get a case all the way to the supreme court challenging the power or constitutionality of the supreme court?


The real WTF isn’t that in the US a corporation can have religious beliefs, it’s that the US still doesn’t have a health care system.


The four contraceptive methods that you cite are legal, and not thought by scientists to actually abort a fertilized egg. Regardless of the specifics though, what they are denying is choice, and they are imposing their religious views on their employees. That’s the really dangerous precedent here; they get to decide what you are covered for and what you are not. And the slippery slope leads to some much more invasive policies; could Hobby Lobby refuse, for instance, to allow a person to take a sick day to have an abortion? Could they fire someone if they found out they had one or were planning to have one? If an owner believes that any medication during pregnancy might harm the fetus, or even that drugs intended to delay a premature delivery interfere with “God’s plan” can the employer refuse to cover medications entirely? And beyond abortion, what exactly are the religious principles that Hobby Lobby stands for - do they have their interpretations of the bible posted anywhere so that employees know what they consider “right” or does Hobby Lobby just get to come out with ecclesiastical edicts whenever they choose? If they are inconsistent with their views (i.e. an owner has an abortion, has an affair, or wears a poly-cotton blend shirt) do they still get to impose their religious choices on their employees?


The more actual facts I learn about this case, the more confused I become and the more it appears to me that there was some exchange of money between Hobby Lobby and 5 of the Supreme Court justices.

For example, the way the ruling was written, it almost exactly says, “This only applies to Hobby Lobby and only to this specific case.”

It in effect states that religious liberty extends only to religious beliefs about abortion.

It in effect states that it doesn’t matter if these beliefs have any basis in fact whatsoever, since the few drugs they had issues with do not actually cause abortions even in the wildest stretch of the term.

Apparently certain kinds of corporations have such a close affiliation with their owners because the owners’ personalities are so strong the corporations they run are like extensions of these people and therefore accorded religious rights, even though the whole point of corporate structure is supposed to segregate out the owners from the corporation.

It’s very hard to understand what the ruling means except that Hobby Lobby appears to have some powerful folk on the take, because it is just so strange.


Evangelical Christianity’s hypocrisy is a feature, not a bug.


That’s splitting hairs in a silly way, and it’s in no way a “liberal” issue.

The way it actually works is this: the financial firm who handles the company’s 401(k) has a large number of mutual funds available. The company talks to them about what funds they’d like to offer their employees. They can say, “please exclude any funds which include these things we disagree with” (i.e., pharmaceuticals, guns, off-shore oil drilling, investments in Chinese labor camps, what have you), and then the financial firm sits down with employees and says “based on your company’s interests, we recommend this group of mutual funds for your 401(k).”

It would take five minutes on the phone for Hobby Lobby to exclude makers of IUD’s and morning-after pills in their employees’ retirement accounts, if they actually believed in what they preach. But they’re hypocrites.


My first job’s medical plan, the year was 1993, covered one abortion per calendar year. Safe to say, it wasn’t Hobby Lobby.

Companies that have employee self-directed 401k plans can easily be subject to lawsuits if they attempt to recommend or direct employees to invest in specific ways. If you ask “what should I invest in?”, you’ll get something like “please speak with the fund management company rep. or talk to a financial planner.”
They might be able to put together a list of funds that don’t conflict with their stated philosophy but I don’t know if it’s that easy.

What would be interesting to know is if Hobby Lobby has company controlled funds invested in companies that provide the services they decry.

I really think there is a case to be made against this decision on establishment grounds. Could a privately held, deeply religious corporation run by Jehovah’s Witness, get an exemption for not covering surgery or blood transfusions? Could a corporation run by Branch Davidians be allowed to strike maternity care from the policies of unmarried female employees under strongly held religious beliefs that one should be virginal until marriage?

What exactly is the criteria as to size and popularity of a religion to determine whether or not your deeply held beliefs qualify? Is there a list? Who decides?

The fiction of this whole debacle (and the Aero ruling) is the lie that the Supreme Court can make a narrow ruling that does not have larger implications. The law is supposed to be consistent and predictable, with the whole concept of precedent. If everything boils down to ‘it depends’ that we really do not have a ‘system’ of laws.


It’s actually written into the decision that these religious issues would NOT be covered by the ruling.