Dem dares Hobby Lobby to follow state birth control law

One Senate Democrat is challenging Hobby Lobby, in the wake of its Supreme Court victory, to follow a law from his state that guarantees healthcare coverage for a full range of birth control methods.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) threw down the gauntlet with a Monday letter, urging Hobby Lobby to respect the "strong, well-established public policy" of the state.

"I am writing to request that Hobby Lobby offer its Connecticut employees health insurance coverage with the full range of contraceptives," Blumenthal wrote Monday to CEO David Green. "Connecticut employees have been afforded health insurance coverage for contraceptives so long as the Food and Drug Administration has approved them."

The letter follows the Supreme Court's decision to allow closely held, for-profit companies to opt out of federal healthcare coverage rules on religious grounds.

Hobby Lobby was a plaintiff in the case, and because it is self-insured, it does not have to follow state laws ordering coverage of contraception.

It is unlikely the national arts-and-crafts chain will choose to follow laws like Connecticut's, which exist in more than two dozen states.

The conservative Christian Green family argues that emergency contraception is equal to abortion and that covering it in an employee health plan is a sin.

Nonetheless, Blumenthal's letter highlights a wrinkle for companies hoping to suspend insurance for health services they disagree with following the court's ruling. Unless those companies are self-insured, they will be subject to state laws that already guarantee coverage for a full range of birth control methods.

A spokeswoman for the Greens did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Blumenthal noted that Connecticut played a major role in the 1965 Supreme Court case that articulated a constitutional right to privacy.

The ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut struck down a state law banning the use of birth control.

Blumenthal will lead a hearing Tuesday on his bill to eliminate most abortion restrictions around the country, the Women's Health Protection Act.