Hobby Lobby Invests in Contraceptive Manufacturers?

Does Hobby Lobby invest in contraceptive manufacturers?

Published Aug 13, 2014

In April 2014, Mother Jones magazine published an article

reporting that Hobby Lobby, a national chain of craft stores that has been fighting on religious grounds a provision of the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) requiring businesses to provide insurance coverage to their employees for contraceptives, nonetheless has significant investments of their own in companies that produce contraceptives. (Hobby Lobby's stated objection is not to all forms of contraceptives, but rather to certain forms of contraceptives, such as morning-after pills and IUDs, which they consider to be abortifacients.)

According to Mother Jones, as of December 2012 Hobby Lobby's 401(k) employee retirement plan had $73 million invested in various mutual funds that included manufacturers of various forms of contraceptives:

Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012 — three months after the company's owners filed their lawsuit [against the federal government] — show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k).

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 and Mirena; 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.

Although this information was widely touted as demonstrating hypocrisy on the part of Hobby Lobby, some aspects of it are uncertain. The reported information dates from 2012, and it's not known whether Hobby Lobby has made changes to its retirement plan since then. Additionally, Hobby Lobby reportedly provides its employees with the option of making 401(k) investments in 24 different mutual funds, with each fund's portfolio consisting of "at least dozens if not hundreds of different holdings." How assiduously Hobby Lobby might have screened every single company included in the portfolios of dozens of different mutual funds, and whether they were aware that some of those companies had ties to contraceptive producers, is also unknown. (As the Mother Jones article pointed out, however, some mutual funds do service companies interested in "faith-based investing" by screening out companies that, for example, "manufacture abortion drugs, support Planned Parenthood, or engage in embryonic stem cell research," but "Hobby Lobby's managers either were not aware of these options or chose not to invest in them.")

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as back in 1994.

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