Craft goods chain Hobby Lobby filed suit last month, claiming they believed the mandate under the Affordable Care Act requiring that all insurance companies provide contraception without a co-pay violates the religious freedoms of employers who effectively equate all moder forms of birth control with abortion. Hobby Lobby’s entry into the lineup of groups filing these suits makes it the first non-Catholic business to actively refuse the new rule. It also makes it the only large retail chain to publicly rebuff the mandate, which has now left it open to customer criticism, potential boycotts, and bad publicity.
The negative effects are beginning to play out in the media’s eye, as progressive activist group Ultraviolet and a coalition of Christian organizations called Faithful America begin a petitioning process urging Hobby Lobby to drop their court challenge.
Via the Associated Press:
[Rev. Lance Schmitz, pastor of the Capitol Hill Church of the Nazarene in Oklahoma City] and spokespersons for the Christian groups said the drugs are contraceptives and that women have a right to make their own medical decisions.
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“Access to contraceptive care is a very good thing,” Schmitz said. “This isn’t about abortion. These pills do not cause abortion. It’s contraception.”
Michael Sharrard, spokesman for Faithful America, said a large part of his group’s efforts “is to try to counter extremists” and that it represents the “mainstream majority.”
“It’s a woman’s personal decision on what kind of birth control to use,” said Cat Barr, campaign director for UltraViolet. “Hobby Lobby is out of touch with mainstream Americans. It’s not their role to be dictating medical decisions.”
So far 80,000 signatures have been gathered of people who say they will not shop at the stores unless the owners agree to drop their lawsuit. The owners, meanwhile, say they are standing their ground. According lawyers representing the family, the company already covers birth control pills in their employee plan. However, when it comes to emergency contraception, despite the studies stating the medication works to keep a woman from ovulating, the family insists it is still an abortifacient and cannot in good conscience be allowed.