Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts chain at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court case over birth control and religious freedom, is expanding in Connecticut.
And with the Oklahoma-based business preparing to open three new stores in Connecticut later this year, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal has written to the firm’s CEO to ask that it provide full insurance coverage for contraceptives.
Blumenthal, who will hold a news conference Monday morning at the construction site of the Manchester Hobby Lobby store, said Connecticut law mandates that all health insurance coverage through group or individual policies must provide “coverage for prescription contraceptive methods approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.” During the press conference, he plans to release a letter he wrote to Hobby Lobby CEO David Green.
On June 30, in one of the most closely watched U.S. Supreme Court cases of the year, the court ruled 5-4 that closely held for-profit businesses have a right to exercise their religious beliefs. The owners of the Hobby Lobby chain are conservative Christians who believe certain types of birth control are immoral and, the company argued, providing employees access to such contraceptives would violate principles of religious freedom.
Blumenthal, a stauch defender of access to birth control and legal abortion, is cosponsoring legislation that overturn the Hobby Lobby decision and clarify “the intent of Congress to provide equal and broad health insurance coverage for all forms of FDA approved contraceptives.”
“Religious liberty is about the right to practice your own religion, not the right of bosses to impose religious beliefs on employees,” Blumenthal said. “I am calling on Hobby Lobby to do the right thing and provide full contraceptive coverage to its Connecticut employees. Connecticut residents have enjoyed a long history of respect for individual rights and I urge Hobby Lobby to comply with our state laws.”
Blumenthal will be joined at the press conference by Christian Miron, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, Christine Palm, communications director for the Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, Victoria Veltri, state healthcare advocate, Susan Yolen, vice-president for public policy and advocacy at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.
According to the Hobby Lobby website, the store on Buckland Street in Manchester is scheduled to open on Sept. 12. The chain is also planning to open a store on Farmington Avenue in Bristol on Oct. 3 and on the Boston Post Road in Milford on Oct. 10.