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Hobby Lobby: contraception vs. arbortificant

Hobby Lobby: contraception vs. arbortificant

This Bloomberg article by Margaret Carlson is disingenuous in a rather simple way: it discusses the Hobby Lobby case without once mentioning that the forms of contraception the plaintiffs are objecting to being forced to help provide funds for could at least arguably be called abortificants, and that this is in fact the basis of their argument. They have no problem with other forms of contraception coverage required by the Obamacare law.

You can take either side of the Hobby Lobby case and still write a piece that states the facts correctly without omitting one of the most important ones. In her article, Carlson refers to “contraception” and “some contraception,” and the casual reader would be led to believe that Hobby Lobby is objecting to contraception itself.

But two of the types of contraception Hobby Lobby objects to are the morning-after pill (“Plan B”) and the IUD. The left would argue that the preponderance of evidence at this point is that neither are actually abortificants, and there is certainly evidence to that effect. But the truth is that we really don’t yet know their mechanism in all cases, and that Hobby Lobby’s contention that they are abortificants is not the least bit frivolous:

The exact mechanism by which Plan B prevents pregnancies has been in question for decades and is not likely to be cleared up soon, says Donna Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“How you ask the question determines what kind of answer you get,” she said. “What you don’t have is a lot of funding for research that says, ‘Does this drug affect the embryo?’ “

There is a similar case that can be made to consider the IUD a form of abortificant—at least in some unknown number of instances—if a person believes that personhood begins the moment an egg and sperm unite [emphasis mine]:

IUDs primarily work by preventing fertilization. The progestogen released from the hormonal IUDs prevents ovulation from occurring so an egg is never released. The hormone also thickens the cervical mucus so that sperm cannot reach the fallopian tubes. The copper IUDs contain no hormones, but the copper ions in the cervical mucus are toxic to sperm. They also cause the uterus and fallopian tubes to produce a fluid that contains white blood cells, copper ions, enzymes, and prostaglandins, a combination that is also toxic to sperm. The very high effectiveness of copper-releasing IUDs as emergency contraceptives implies they may also act by preventing implantation of the blastocyst.

It’s that “blastocyst” (i.e. newly fertilized egg), and its possible failure to implant in some cases as a result of an IUD, that is the issue (see also this). That’s the basis of Hobby Lobby’s objection, and to call it a refusal to provide contraception is an attempt to portray Hobby Lobby as more extreme than they are, and the question as more simple than it actually is.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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It would never do to discuss the actual issues. An actual “conversation” might take place, and we simply can’t have that occur. Minds might be changed. {{shudder}}

    Ragspierre in reply to 49erDweet. | March 30, 2014 at 9:55 am

    But none of this is about convincing anybody of anything.

    Nor is it really about “health-care”.

    It is about control via coercion.

MouseTheLuckyDog | March 29, 2014 at 11:13 pm

Observe too that these two methods do not have beneficial side effects that other forms of birth control do ( such as some versions of “the pill”).

It should be noted that IUDs are dangerous. Punctured uterine walls, irritation resulting in infection, a direct open conduit through the cervix, etc. Plus, there have been reports of babies born holding the IUD (although these do sound exaggerated). The effective rate is around 93% which is not what the youngsters think the rate is.

War on women indeed!

Freddie Sykes | March 30, 2014 at 1:07 am

Catholic Charities may have problems with paying for any forms of contraception. What difference does that make/ The question remains whether employees are better off with a limited employer subsidized health insurance or to be forced to pay for their own insurance on the exchanges with pretax dollars. Why does the federal government insists upon people making this decision?

Ah, for those long-lost days of youthful idealism and innocence, when I could believe a phrase like “Margaret Carlson is disingenuous” uniquely applies to given case. The woman goes out of her way to distort and mislead, it is apparently the only way she knows how to frame an argument.

Anyone who EVER believed the federal government could design a better health insurance system that even the fractured market system we’ve had, is just an idiot – no matter what Ezra Klein said. Klein, btw, is even worse than Carlson because he buries his deceptions and omissions under heavy diversions of figures and charts and selective analysis (now, at Vox, to be augmented by animation for all you Kool Kids).

Economics isn’t rocket science, folks. Is more choice of menu and prices better or worse? Ask your toddlers. Ask your dog – he may be confused at first, but it’s the good kind of confused.

Yes, people make mistakes and choose poorly in health coverage as in other things. Heck, some poor wretches didn’t even learn from their mistake and voted for Obama a second time. They’ll survive.

Well, at least their odds are better than the Postal Service’s.

The issue really quite simple. Liberals want things and want others to pay for their things. Liberals don’t like things and want to prohibit you from having those things.

As if the only way women in the United States could get Plan B was through Hobby Lobby’s medical plan.

    gxm17 in reply to Redneck Law. | March 31, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    It’s not that simple at all. It’s about for-profit companies trying to use religion to excuse discrimination. What next? Not including gay spouse coverage because it goes against the corporation’s faith?

    There comes a point where the religious must exercise tolerance when they interact in a non-theocratic society. Not everyone shares the same faith. And, especially in the area of employment, one shouldn’t try to force their faith on others. I find it incredibly hypocritical that Hobby Lobby seems content purchasing merchandise from atheist China (with the one child rule and forced abortions) and taking the money of atheist and/or birth control-using customers. If you want to break from the law and the rest of society, then walk it like you talk it and segregate yourself. Go live like the Amish or the Hasidic communities. But the sanctimonious, money-grubbing BS that Hobby Lobby is trying to flimflam is as offensive as it is ridiculous.

I don’t mean to nitpick, but I think you mean “abortifacient”. Arbortificant sounds like something like an axe– cut short the lives of those trees, y’know.

What I want to know is if a for-profit corporation can claim its religion, then will it also get to claim a religious tax exemption (similar to churches)?