Thursday, July 24, 2014

An open letter to Gabe Nabors of Mustard Seed Market

Dear Mr. Nabors,

First off, please know how much I love Mustard Seed Market. I love walking into your store (I patronize the Fairlawn location). I love browsing the aisles, which are brimming with a dazzling selection of goods. I love the health and beauty aisle to a fault. Your employees are consistently top-notch and a delight to interact with.

The last lunch I shared with my dad before he died suddenly in 2002 was at your café.

I'm writing to let you know that I will continue to shop at Mustard Seed no matter what happens with the Eden Foods birth control coverage controversy, but I will never ever select one of their products from your shelves.

Here is an excerpt from the Eden Food's 2013 complaint to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan:
The Affordable Care Act, through a Mandate from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, attacks and desecrates a foremost tenet of the Catholic Church, as stated by Pope Paul VI in His 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, that "any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation, whether as an end or as a means"—including contraception, abortion, and abortifacients—is immoral and unnatural.
To imagine the management of a for-profit corporation imposing those beliefs upon its employees is profoundly chilling. Please consider the implications of continuing your business relationship with Eden Foods.

Thank you for all you do and for all your employees do.


Erin O'Brien

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Anonymous said...

You certainly have every right to buy whatever products you choose. You have every right to boycott companies who have policies with which you disagree.

I do wish to point out that Eden foods is in no way dictating what contraceptives their employees may or may not use or purchase. They are simply saying they will not pay for them. As I have stated before "if you do not want your employer to be involved in your birth control you should not ask him to pay for it.

I suspect you will also soon write the HHS and President Obama since they have decided to let religious non-profits exclude these very products and has waive these requirements from from their health plans?

In the end, I am sure we will have to agree to disagree.


Erin O'Brien said...

Joe, all you see is birth control, which is all they want you to see.

This is about so much more. It's about exempting for-profit companies from laws based on the religious beliefs of the company's owner.

I honestly don't know how anyone can support that.

It's also about the perverse puncturing of the corporate veil. An entity incorporates in order to shield the owner(s) from the liability of the corporation. Who will be liable when the owner's religious beliefs negatively impact an employee? The owner? The corporation?

But all you see is birth control.

Joe said...

In reality what I see is not birth control, but an employer choosing what benefits to offer his employees. There is no doubt I am a dinosaur. My idea of benefits goes all the way back to 2010. My last employer did not offer vision care. It sucked, but that is life. To me benefits are incentives offered by a company to get the best possible workers.

I think the government has no role in telling an employer what benefits he should provide, whether it be vacation, dental or health insurance.

More to the point, the HHS (this required coverage is a mandate, not part of the ACA legislation) did not require employers provide gratis other medicines that are arguably as important to health and affect more people such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, or heart medicines. This issue is about a particular political agenda. You know it and I know it -- both the requirement and the push back against it.

If providing these products free is so essential to the population then non-profits should not be exempt. Why is owner of company A not allowed to have religious beliefs why owner of non-profit company B is? 14th Amendment anyone?

Sorry to ramble so long.

sarahm59 said...

I would imagine that as with most employee insurance policies, the employer only pays a portion of the policy so the overused word "free" when talking about birth control san error at best and a bold faced lie used to paint opponents as "takers" at worst. "Free stuff", there they go again… even if the employee paid nothing, it would still not be free any more than their paycheck is free but instead a compensation for work. I wonder if the workers policies offered birth control prior to ACA as most policies did.

So once again, we are back to whether or not a corporation can be exempt from a law based on the religious beliefs of the owner, who is protected as an individual from liability, acting as a corporation when it benefits him or her and as a individual imposing his religious will when it doesn't. He shouldn't be able to have it both ways.

Erin O'Brien said...

You are welcome to ramble on as long as you like, but quit with the "free" already. We paid $3600 towards our HC coverage last year. That's just the coverage, no copays, deductibles or anything else.

What the hell is "free" about $3600? But you'd tell a young woman that has very few health care needs that her $3600 contribution to coverage is ... what? Fictional?

As for birth control being essential, I can tell you without one moment's hesitation that if I were in a situation in which I had to decide between my goddamn cholesterol prescription and birth control, I'd choose birth control. As it is, my doctor had to yell at me for 10 years before I started taking the goddamn cholesterol pills.

For almost all healthy women of child bearing age, birth control is the single most important component of health care. That includes ALL the choices, hormonal, IUD, emergency, whatever.

Do you realize every time you got in bed with a woman without the intent of procreation, you were relying on birth control?

This is not about a political agenda. This is about implementing a program that will actually help the middle class. You are fighting to do yourself--and I daresay the next generation--in.

In other news, it's going to be a real floor show when your Scientologists chime in. Your Scientologists reeeeealy no likey pills.


Erin O'Brien said...

Ha! Sara and I were typing at the same time.

To that end, Joe, think about it: do you consider your health care coverage to be "free?" Your last employer did not offer vision care. Is the vision plan you're on now "free?" Maybe you should thank your boss for that free gift he so generously bestowed upon you.

And in case you didn't hear me the first time:


Anonymous said...

You are correct, "free" is the wrong word.

I do not dispute anything you say. My only issue is that the government should not mandate to any business what their benefits should be.

And again if it is not political, why are these medications the ONLY ones mandated by the HHS? Why not blood pressure meds, or diabetes meds or blood thinners? BTW, if you needed insulin to LIVE, then I suspect you would choose that over any kind of birth control, IUD, etc.

For the record, when my wife was of child bearing age, birth control was not part of our insurance plan. We managed, it is not so expensive. And yes, I thought it stupid the company would pay for a pregnancy, but not to prevent one. But that was the plan and if I did not like it... I also did not like taking one week of my vacation during plant shutdown, again, tha twas the benefit I could take it or leave it. To me there is no difference. I suspect this is the root of our difference in opinion.

Insurance/employer plans make decisions every day on what medicines and procedures they will cover. Why are these the exception to the rule? Of course it is political.


Anonymous said...

Should a single guy who owns a small handyman LLC business be forced to have contraceptive coverage?


Erin O'Brien said...

"why are these medications the ONLY ones mandated by the HHS"

Huh? Shoe me that link on HHS's page please. I'm pretty sure ALL prescription meds must be covered whether your on an Obamacare exchange or private insurance policy.

If I had to choose between insulin and birth control, I guess I'd have to choose insulin and rely on the least expensive birth control, perhaps condoms.

And if I became pregnant because the condom broke, I'd be a diabetic pregnant lady at a lot of risk (and probably without a lot of money since I couldn't afford better birth control.

If I live in certain parts of the country, getting an abortion is not an option. In other parts, providing I can afford said abortion, I'll be subject to any number of threats via "protesters" and regulations making that abortion as difficult as possible. If I have the baby (which I also cannot afford) and there are complications because I'm diabetic.

I'm in a hell of a pickle, aren't I?

(This is the part where you tell me to take one aspirin and hold it between my knees.)

As for your "single guy," no one is "forcing" him to have contraceptive coverage. He just has basic coverage. There are not "male" and "female" policies, nor should there be. He uses what healthcare he needs--like emergency and rehabilitation care when he wipes out on the slopes and busts up his legs.

You know, Joe, the mousey girl in accounting who doesn't ski isn't worried about the fact her policy covers the same skiing accident she WILL NEVER HAVE.

It's called actuary science and I don't think there's a conservative out there who understands what the hell it is.

Anonymous said...

"It's called actuary science and I don't think there's a conservative out there who understands what the hell it is."-EOB

They would if "Obamacare" was a Hedge Fund.


Anonymous said...

Well said, hermana.......


Michael Lawless said...

My beliefs do not allow support for war...I would like my $6 Trillion Dollars back please.

Bill said...

Dear Ms. Applicant,

We are pleased to offer you employment in the Nut Division of Edan Foods. Please review the enclosed benefits package, including our insurance coverage. The company pays 80% of the premium and the employee pays 20%. You may decline coverage if you wish. You may be covered under a different policy. We look forward to you joining our team but please don't accept the position and then bitch about the insurance coverage. OK? Regards, Manager, Nut Division.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Bill employer,

Do I have to agree with your religious beliefs to crack your nuts?


Bill said...

LOL! Touche' Anon.

philbilly said...

Speaking as a single guy with a handyman LLC business, I haven't seen the need for contraceptive coverage in one helluva long time.
This, however, is a personal dilemma, and not readily solved by politics. I have noticed that dropping 80 lbs. has increased the glance factor at Whole Foods. Won't be long now.

Erin O'Brien said...

80 pounds! Go Phil!

In other news, I also posted this on Mustard Seed's facebook page, and got this response yesterday:

"We appreciate your attention to this issue. I would like to extend an invitation to you to join me for lunch so we may have further dialog on this matter. You can reach me at

Class act.

Anonymous said...


AWESOME! May your efforts be richly rewarded.


Bill said...

That lunch to discuss the insurance coverage issue is a pretty impressive result of the power of the (your) pen. It looks as though the store has about 50 employees. Would be interesting to know what, if any, insurance he provides them and if they have to share the cost. I look forward to your reportage.

philbilly said...

Most of that 80 lbs. was donuts. Thanks to Erin's link, I now understand why I couldn't resist them.

Erin O'Brien said...

Methinks you are referring to this post.

philbilly said...

Actually, Erin, I was referring to the post about erotic donuts at the dealership. In the words of G-dubya, "subliminable."