Friday, July 4, 2014

Let's be clear: SCOTUS ruling is about contraception, not abortion

When Catholic bishops objected to the Obamacare mandate that required employers to include contraception in their health insurance plans, the lines were clear. Regardless of the fact that most Catholics use birth control, the church has a strong position against it.

But that was not the case that Hobby Lobby made to the Supreme Court. They were clear that they have no religious objection to birth control in general - just four kinds (two "morning after pills" and 2 IUD's). Their contention is that these birth control methods work by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus and are therefore abortifacients.

The truth is that science is never going to answer the question of when "life" begins. That one is always going to be left to us as human beings to struggle with. In those instances, many people turn to their religion. For the owners of Hobby Lobby, their belief is that life starts the moment an egg is fertilized. I don't agree with that conclusion, but I support their right to that belief and would hope that they would support my right to decide differently.

But ultimately those differences should never have come into play in the recent SCOTUS decision. That's because the scientific consensus is that the "morning after pills" (Plan B and Ella) do NOT work by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus (the science on IUD's is not as conclusive). The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetric's statement on this was unequivocal:
LNG ECPs [Plan B and Ella] do not interrupt a pregnancy (by any definition of the beginning of pregnancy). However, LNG ECPs can prevent abortions by reducing unwanted pregnancies.
So what are we to make of the fact that Hobby Lobby included these two forms of contraception in their case and that 5 Supreme Court Justices validated their claims?
In his opinion, Alito contends that these four contraception methods "may have the effect of preventing an already fertilized egg from developing any further by inhibiting its attachment to the uterus." He does not cite any science to back this up.
There are only two possible answers to that question. Either this is another example of a rejection of science or it is an assault on women's right to access contraception in general. The subsequent Supreme Court ruling seems to indicate the latter.

There are many areas of the Hobby Lobby (and now Wheaton College) case that are open to discussion. For example, when does "life" begin? When does pregnancy begin? Do the rights of corporations trump the rights of workers? But the one thing we should all be able to agree on is demonstrated science. Regardless of your position on the other questions, that is where the Court's decision is an abomination.


  1. I'm confused. Does it say in the opinion that women don't have the right to have these drugs or IUDs? I thought this was about Hobby Lobby not wanting to be forced to pay for insurance plans that cover those. Are women's actual rights being abridged, or is it just that they need to go pay for a better insurance plan that's not provided by their employer if their employer refuses to pay for the coverage? Maybe I'm completely missing the point of this case.

    1. Tien Le, this suit by Hobby Lobby was supposed to be about those four types of birth control. However, the conservative judges in their summary actually may have made it possible to deny women insurance. The three women on the court are furious.

    2. For who to deny women insurance? All the 'closely held companies', or just anyone? This makes the exchanges all the more important it would seem.

    3. Also, if a company denies their female employees insurance compensation but give it to their male employees, can't the female employees sue for compensation? Seems like the actual practice of people trying to deny women insurance is going to get them in more trouble than they bargained for.


    4. I'm not completely sure. This was about the conservatives granting an injunction for Wheaton College , not sure about spelling, an evangelical school that sued because they don't want to fill out the forms about not providing coverage.

    5. This is just in reference to "birth control".

  2. Hi SP,
    I think we should all start talking about this one. They need to save the WHITE babies! Then they just need to reduce the "Brown" people with immigration, prison, no medical care, no education, drugs, poverty, voter suppression etc, etc. There is REAL method to their madness and we keep pretending not to see it.
    Whats up with that!