By Brian Dann
In China, the government regularly forces women to undergo forced abortions in order to meet there strict population control policy of one child per family. In a report from the Associated Press and published on Yahoo! News in January 2014, “When her mind is clear, Gong Qifeng can recall how she begged for mercy. Several people pinned her head, arms, knees and ankles to a hospital bed before driving a syringe of labor-inducing drugs into her stomach. She was seven months pregnant with what would have been her second boy. The drugs caused her to have a stillborn baby after 35 hours of excruciating pain. She was forced to have the abortion by officials in China's southern province of Hunan in the name of complying with national limits on family size.” The same month that this report was released regarding forced abortions by the government of China, the CEO of Hobby Lobby, a chain of hobby and craft supply stores, released a letter stating that Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. is suing the United States government because the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, is forcing Hobby Lobby to provide their employees with health Insurance that includes a mandate that says, as David Green, the CEO of Hobby Lobby put it, “our family business MUST provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance.” Mr. Green goes on to say, “Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one.” Yet many of the products that Hobby Lobby sells in their stores are made in China. That’s right, China, the country that Hobby Lobby gives millions of dollars to every year, who forces there citizens to undergo forced abortions in order to comply with government policy. This they don’t seem to have a problem with. Never mind the fact that emergency contraception, or the “morning-after” pill, does not cause abortions but instead stops the egg from dropping , thereby never getting fertilized in the first place, just like normal contraception does. It does not terminate a pregnancy and drugs that do such as RU-486 are not covered by most insurance plans.
On one hand it would seem that we should be applauding Mr. Green and his family for standing up for their religious beliefs, but on the other hand the level of hypocrisy that Mr. Green, and Hobby Lobby is displaying on this matter is absolutely staggering. Chinese abortions are ok, but American “abortions” are not? Are we to believe that every product that Hobby Lobby sells in their stores first goes through a rigorous Christian values vetting process so that we can be assured that the hundreds of companies that they purchase products from all adhere to the same Christian values that Mr. David Green and his family adhere to? Are we to believe that none of the products in their stores are from companies that do business with any country that has values or practices that go against the values of Hobby Lobby’s owners? No we are not because all you have to do is walk into any Hobby Lobby and within 60 seconds you will find shelves of products that are all made in China. Hobby Lobby has no problem paying for women to have forced abortions in China, but allowing women in their own country the freedom over their own health decisions is just too far radical for their Christian values to handle.
In addition, if you allow Hobby Lobby, a for-profit corporation to be exempt from providing certain aspects of health coverage to their employees, simply because they say it conflicts with their religious beliefs, where do we draw the line? Some religions do not believe in giving blood transfusions. Do you allow the owners of those businesses to exempt blood transfusions from insurance coverage regardless of the beliefs of their employees? Scientologists discourage the use of psychiatric drugs to treat mental illness. Do we exempt Scientologists who own businesses from providing these types of drugs in their health plans regardless of the beliefs of their employees? Christ Church in Oregon City believes medical conditions should only be healed through prayer. Do we allow a business owned by one of their members to deny medical insurance completely regardless of the beliefs of their employees? The owners of Hobby Lobby are fully entitled to their religious beliefs just as any other person in the country is, but their employees are entitled to the full benefits of health care that any other person in this country is entitled to, and the personal religious beliefs of David Green and his family should not interfere with a person being able to have full control over the health choices that effect their own body, especially when what they are objecting to is not actually an abortion.
I have heard various arguments to support Hobby Lobby such as, “no one is forcing a person to work there.” That is true, but are we really supposed to expect that people are going to do research on every company that they apply to work at just to make sure that their own religious beliefs are in line with the religious beliefs of the owners of the company that they are applying for a job with? And what about the 22,000 people that currently works for Hobby Lobby? I would have to believe that not all 22,000 of them have the same religious convictions that the Greens do. In fact I would venture to guess that many of them may not even be Christians. I guess to the Greens, the only religious beliefs that matter are the beliefs of the owners, not the 22,000 Christian, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Scientologists, Buddhists, Mormons, Atheists, and so on that keep their business running on a daily basis. If those people want to keep working for Hobby Lobby then they have to except that their religious convictions or lack thereof do not deserve one ounce of respect from CEO David Green and his family.
The even larger issue here is that this lawsuit and similar debates further illustrates the inherent problems built into the Affordable Care Act, problems that would not exist in a single-payer system. Placing the burden of providing for-profit health care insurance to individuals, upon the shoulders of businesses, rather than non-profit health care insurance on the shoulders of government, opens up the entire health insurance infrastructure to debate, law suits, abuse, ongoing financial burden to individuals, and a state where millions of U.S. citizens will remain uninsured and vulnerable to bankruptcy, inadequate health care and even death. It places undue financial burdens on businesses that would not exist if health care costs were paid for by the government instead of individual, for-profit insurance companies that cost businesses billions in premiums each year. Financial burdens that cut into corporate profits that can be better used for things like research and development, or increasing wages, would be reduced by billions, and individuals would no longer have to ever worry that they would be without health insurance from the moment of birth to the time of death. And businesses like Hobby Lobby would not have any reason to be suing the U.S. Government for some provision the they claim conflicts with their religious beliefs, because they would not have the burden of providing health insurance to their 22,000 employees.
But for now the Affordable Care Act is what we have to deal with. And as long as we have the Affordable Care Act we will have to deal with everything from Senators who want to vote 40 plus times to repeal a law that has passed the test of the Supreme Court and is actively helping millions of Americans, and companies like Hobby Lobby and their CEO David Green who place their own personal religious convictions above the 22,000 individuals who work for them. On December 27th 2013, Hobby Lobby published a video addressing their law suit against the U.S. Government. In it Hobby Lobby's Mandi Broadfoot states, “Hobby Lobby and the Green family do not wish to control the actions of their employees, nor do they want to impose their beliefs on anyone. They respect the religious convictions of all Americans, even those with different views.” Again, a level of hypocrisy that is simply staggering. Well on a separate note, does anyone know where I can buy a set of paint brushes made in China? Oh, yea…never mind.