Antiabortion company Hobby Lobby reportedly invests retirement funds in abortion drugs


A demonstrator in favor of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and opposed to U.S. President Barack Obama’s health-care law contraception requirement holds up a sign outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 25, 2014. A divided U.S. Supreme Court debated whether companies can assert religious rights, hearing arguments in an ideological clash over President Barack Obama’s health care law and rules that promote contraceptive coverage. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

“Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions … 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,”  Hobby Lobby founder David Green wrote in an article for USA Today.

Hobby Lobby is so committed to those principles that it’s gone to the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge a provision in the Affordable Care Act that it says requires it to provide access to insurance covering birth control for its employees, some forms of which it equates with abortion.

No wonder then, the glee emanating from some quarters Tuesday when Molly Redden of Mother Jones reported that the company’s retirement plan holds $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that make abortion drugs.

Several of the mutual funds in Hobby Lobby’s retirement plan have holdings in companies that manufacture the specific drugs and devices that the Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, is fighting to keep out of Hobby Lobby’s health care policies: the emergency contraceptive pills Plan B and Ella, and copper and hormonal intrauterine devices.

These companies include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which makes Plan B and ParaGard, a copper IUD, and Actavis, which makes a generic version of Plan B and distributes Ella. Other holdings in the mutual funds selected by Hobby Lobby include Pfizer, the maker of Cytotec and Prostin E2, which are used to induce abortions; Bayer, which manufactures the hormonal IUDs Skyla andMirena; AstraZeneca, which has an Indian subsidiary that manufactures Prostodin, Cerviprime, and Partocin, three drugs commonly used in abortions; and Forest Laboratories, which makes Cervidil, a drug used to induce abortions. Several funds in the Hobby Lobby retirement plan also invested in Aetna and Humana, two health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions, abortion drugs, and emergency contraception in many of the health care policies they sell.

The retirement plan comes with a “generous company match,” which amounted to $3.8 million in 2012.

Investments in these sorts of companies are commonplace for the typical retirement fund. But Hobby Lobby has been arguing that it’s anything but typical.

Hobby Lobby did not comment for the Mother Jones story.

But plenty of other people did.

“Wow,” said the liberal DailyKos.

From Feministing:

Yup, that Hobby Lobby. The company that’s taken their “deeply held” religious objection to contraception all the way to the Supreme Court. The company that thinks allowing their employees to get coverage for certain types of birth control through their insurance plans — plans, mind you, that the employees pay the premium on — amounts to subsidizing immorality. The company that pulls out the world’s smallest violin as it earnestly cries that Obamacare is “forcing them to violate the law or violate their belief that life begins at conception — a choice no company should have to make.”

And here was the headline on the blog Scholars and Rogues:

Hobby Lobby hypocrisy: 401k plan invests in contraception; Obamacare litigant secretly profiting from the very immorality it publicly opposes.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week in the case.

Hobby Lobby says its committed to “honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles” and “providing a return on the owner’s investment, sharing the Lord’s blessings with our employees,” according to the company’s Web site.

According to briefs filed with the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby objects to the Obamacare mandate requiring employers to provide access to policies covering IUDs and the two morning-after pills, Ella and Plan B, because it believes the contraceptives cause abortion by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg.

Researchers say these devices don’t end pregnancies like the abortion drug RU-486. Nor do they stop implantation of fertilized eggs. Rather, these devices stop pregnancy before it happens by making it hard for sperm to reach the egg or delaying ovulation.

The kicker is that there are “faith based” investment options for companies like Hobby Lobby that are particular about whom they do business with. Dan Hardt, a Kentucky financial planner who specializes in faith-based investing, told Mother Jones that the performances of funds like the Timothy Plan or Ave Maria Fund, which screen for companies that make abortion drugs or support stem cell research, are about the same as if they had not been screened.

Forbes pointed out that Hobby Lobby has a fiduciary duty under federal law to know what the company-sponsored 401(k) is investing in for the benefit of its employees.

Gail Sullivan covers business for the Morning Mix blog.
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