Sunday, April 22, 2018
Politics

PunditFact: Did Hobby Lobby know it offered birth control drugs?

The statement

"Hobby Lobby provided this (birth control) coverage before they decided to drop it to file suit."

Sally Kohn, liberal pundit, June 30 on CNN

The ruling

Hobby Lobby's Supreme Court victory over the federal government's contraception rule set off a fast-breaking wave of punditry on national TV. CNN brought in liberal pundit and contributor Sally Kohn, who panned the court's 5-4 decision as disastrous and Hobby Lobby's intentions as disingenuous.

We can't determine if politics motivated the company, but we did wonder whether Hobby Lobby covered the types of birth control at issue in its lawsuit but dropped the coverage before filing its complaint.

The short answer: Yes.

The Green family, which founded Hobby Lobby in Oklahoma City in 1972, said as much in its original complaint.

The Greens re-examined the company's health insurance policy in 2012, shortly before filing the lawsuit. A Wall Street Journal story said they looked into their plan after being approached by a Becket Fund for Religious Liberty attorney about possible legal action on the federal government's contraceptives requirement.

That was when, according to the company's complaint, they were surprised to learn their prescription drug policy included two drugs, Plan B and ella, which are emergency contraceptive pills that reduce the chance of pregnancy in the days after unprotected sex. The government does not consider so-called morning-after pills as abortifacients because they are used to prevent eggs from being fertilized (not to induce abortions once a woman is pregnant). The Green family, however, believes that life begins at conception and that these drugs impede the survival of fertilized eggs.

At any rate, Hobby Lobby stopped covering those drugs in its plan and took the health care contraceptive mandate to court, represented by the Becket Fund.

The only caveat here is Hobby Lobby said it didn't know it was covering the drugs.

"Coverage of these drugs was not included knowingly or deliberately by the Green family. Such coverage is out of step with the rest of the Hobby Lobby's policies, which explicitly exclude abortion-causing contraceptive devices and pregnancy-terminating drugs," the company said in its court filing.

Of note: Company leaders do not have religious problems with other forms of birth control, such as the pill, condoms, diaphragms and sterilization, according to the Becket Fund.

We rate the claim Mostly True.

KATIE SANDERS, Times staff writer

Edited for print. Read the full version at PunditFact.com.

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