Dear Hobby Lobby, We’re Through

Dear Hobby Lobby:

Your yarns have been some of my favorites. Using your green eyelash yarn, I made scarves that were a good approximation of Oscar the Grouch, and people loved them. When I made things out of the super-soft Cameo yarn, they sold even before I could set them up on a shelf in a friend’s shop.

I tell you this not just to illustrate my yarn fancy, but to show you that I have been your customer. While my yarn budget of a couple hundred dollars a year may not seem like much to you, it’s a significant sum to me. As an aspiring yarn hoarder, I know what I like, and I liked what you had to offer.

We had a good working relationship, Hobby Lobby and I. But it’s over, and I need to tell you why.

Please understand I don’t go into the details of my personal health with strangers in public too often, but since Hobby Lobby has decided it needs to wedge itself into the most personal decisions a woman makes, I’m going to assume you’re OK with hearing about my own health.

A few years ago, I started bleeding heavily during my monthly period. Doctors will tell you that small blood clots during a period are normal, and that any clot up to the size of a quarter is nothing to worry about. But I was having blood clots the size of my palm. It was unmanageable. I had to go out of the office for a work assignment one day and changed my tampon before I left, but after 45 minutes, the blood was flowing down my legs. I couldn’t take a car ride longer than a half hour without having to pull over somewhere to change my pad.

After enduring this for several months, hoping it would just go away on its own, I finally went to see an OB-GYN. I had to have a dilation and curettage, a surgical procedure where my uterine lining was scraped away. It was determined that I had uterine hyperplasia and an “out-of-phase” uterine lining. She also found out that I was anemic from all the bleeding.

And then she laid out my options.

Left alone, there was a likely chance that the hyperplasia would worsen, and I would end up in a hospital emergency room being prepped for an emergency hysterectomy. I could avoid that by having a scheduled hysterectomy, a major operation that has serious consequences. Or, she said, I could get an IUD that emits progestin, which would inhibit the overgrowth of my uterine lining.

I ask you – what would you do? Risk a life-threatening emergency? Have a major surgery to remove a major organ? Or take medicine that would let you control the  problem?

While you’re considering those options, let me ask you another question. Who would you want to make that decision for you? I bet you’d like to make it for yourself. But what if someone you never met demanded the right to limit your choices and force you toward a more drastic option?

Because if I were your employee instead of your customer, that is where I’d be. I would be forced to either risk or schedule hospitalization in order to placate the fragile beliefs of a billionaire CEO who doesn’t know me, has never met me and will never have to contend with the debilitating bleeding I had.

I ask you, would a male employee of Hobby Lobby with an uncontrolled bleeding problem – a hemophiliac – have to endure his employer meddling in his medical care? Or could he simply get the treatments he needs to live and be healthy?

Hobby Lobby doesn’t want me using the IUD to save my health. They object because of a dubious claim that it might cause an abortion. But here’s the kicker – I’m both infertile and a lesbian. So, congratulations, Hobby Lobby. As your hypothetical employee, you have successfully saved my even more hypothetical baby that could never, ever be. That imaginary, impossible baby somehow is more important than my very real health needs. How is that?

I keep wondering, why would I be treated differently than a hemophiliac, or for that matter, anyone else with any other medical problem? I’m told it’s because of the “deeply held religious beliefs” of the Hobby Lobby owners, but let’s be honest. That doesn’t really ring true, does it? Your 401(k) plan invests in the companies that make contraceptives, including Bayer, the maker of the Mirena IUD, and TEVA, which makes the morning after pill. I suppose the Green family has no problem with these devices and pills when they make them money. Nor do they think twice about buying goods from China, where abortion isn’t just an option, but a requirement, for many women. Maybe the deeply held belief here is greed. Maybe it’s just the age-old desire to control women. I can’t say for certain, but I can tell you I despise it either way.

No, I do not work for Hobby Lobby. My employers – then and now – are more enlightened, and respect my ability to make my own health choices. But my condition is not rare, and I know that in a company of 50,000 employees, there are women here who share my health challenges. I am outraged on their behalf.

I can no longer feel good about spending my money with you. I can’t spend my hard-earned dollars at a place that wants to treat me as a second class citizen. Your founding family can be as self-righteous, as discriminatory and as hypocritical as they like. It’s still a free country for some, and that is their right. Just as it’s my right to put an end to our relationship.

So, today I’m bringing you back the rest of the yarn I bought from you. I’m not asking for a refund – you can just take it. I have no qualms with having an IUD in my uterus, but it feels immoral to have your yarn in my home.

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