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Hobby Lobby Still Covers Vasectomies And Viagra

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Hobby Lobby -- now free to drop emergency "morning after" pills and intrauterine devices from its workers' health insurance plans -- has given no indication that it plans to stop helping its male employees obtain erectile dysfunction treatments.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the craft store chain, owned by evangelical Christians, doesn't have to pay for health care coverage of contraceptives prohibited by its owners' religion.

But pills and pumps that help a man stiffen his penis in preparation for sex are perfectly acceptable.

Last year, a federal court granted Catholic groups the right to opt out of providing coverage for contraceptives that they equated with abortion or sterilization, such as IUDs and vasectomies. But the groups were happy to foot the bill for treatments that could lead to procreation.

Julie Rovner, a reporter at NPR, wrote a blog post in February 2012 explaining where Catholic groups drew the line on sexual health coverage:

The answer on Viagra coverage is usually yes, Catholic leaders say. And they argue that's neither hypocritical nor sexist. Procreation is something the Catholic church encourages. And Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs can be of help.

A provision in the Affordable Care Act requires corporations to offer insurance plans that meet minimum coverage standards if those corporations take advantage of tax benefits for compensating employees in health insurance, rather than wages.

But the owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Store, a Pennsylvania wood manufacturer, challenged this provision, arguing that it violated their religious freedom.

Evangelical Christians have long argued that life begins at conception, and therefore that medical procedures that disrupt the first stages of pregnancy amount to murder. In the case of Hobby Lobby, this extends to a woman taking pills such as Plan B, Next Choice or Ella, any of which would prevent her ovaries from releasing an egg that could be fertilized after unprotected sex.

Perhaps taking a note from Catholic Church's opposition to sterilization, Hobby Lobby also objected to long-term birth control methods such as IUDs, which can cost women up to $1,000.

But that does not explain why Hobby Lobby doesn't object to covering the cost of its male employees' vasectomies.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

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