By Maya Paley, National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles
This past Saturday, the Reproductive Justice Coalition of Los Angeles (RJCLA), held a protest at the Burbank Hobby Lobby store: Hobby Lobby and Contraception: What skeletons does Hobby Lobby have in its closet?
Nearly 25 people came representing various organizations, including the ACLU of Southern California, CA Women’s Law Center, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles, Hollywood NOW, and others. We wore skeleton t-shirts and held up signs that read: Hobby Lobby: A Dead End for Women, My Healthcare is Not Your Hobby, Birth Control is Not My Boss’s Business, and LA Women Won’t Stand for This.
While the protest took place nearly four months after the Supreme Court’s decision on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, RJCLA’s goal is to continue raising awareness about the serious impacts of the decision as well as Hobby Lobby’s actions in hopes that other corporations do not follow Hobby Lobby’s lead. We also wanted to make sure that craft shoppers in Los Angeles, especially those preparing for Halloween this year, are aware of Hobby Lobby’s discriminatory policies towards their employees and know that there are other places they can go for their Halloween shopping.
RJCLA believes that the Court’s decision discriminates against women and subjugates not only their health care needs, but also their personal religious freedom, to the religious beliefs of their employers. Hobby Lobby chose to exempt four types of contraception, specifically morning after pills and intrauterine devices, from its employees’ health insurance coverage. The owners of Hobby Lobby claimed that these forms of contraception induce abortions and thus are contrary to their religious beliefs. They used the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as the basis of their argument.
Intrauterine devices and morning after pills are highly effective methods of birth control that should be accessible to all women. And it has been scientifically proven that emergency contraception and IUDs do not induce abortions. 99% of women use birth control in the United States so it is irrational and harmful to women to still be debating our ability to access contraception. Hobby Lobby lists 16 types of contraception it claims it still allows women workers to obtain through its healthcare coverage, but two of those are specifically for male use (male condoms and vasectomies).
The Supreme Court acknowledged that even if science proves that these four types of contraception do not cause abortions, which Hobby Lobby claimed, the employers’ religious beliefs still trump that of the workers. RCJLA believes that this decision was wrongly made and could have extremely negative consequences for both women and men who work for companies whose owners have different religious beliefs than their own. We protested to educate the public about the harmful ruling and the archaic, anti-worker, and anti-women policies of Hobby Lobby.
California State Senator Holly Mitchell stated the following about the protest: “Hobby Lobby and some other employers want to turn back the clock to a time when birth control was a privilege, not a right, for women. We’re saying that we’re not going back – and Hobby Lobby’s workers shouldn’t be held back, either. Regardless of the Supreme Court decision, it is Hobby Lobby’s chosen policies, not the Constitution, which limit their employees’ family planning options.”