On June 30th, 2014 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Hobby Lobby did not have to cover certain forms of birth control that were mandated under the Affordable Care Acc (ACA), mainly emergency contraceptives, because of their deeply held religious belief that these treatments can cause abortions.
It is important to note that Hobby Lobby does not want to exclude all forms of contraceptives from their employees coverage. Rather they objected to the “after-morning pill” and two types of IUDs. Again, they did this because they believe these options cause abortions because they believe life begins at fertilization. However, other companies do want to exclude all forms of contraceptives from their health care plans. This case might give them legal precedence to do so.
Here’s the thing though: these two treatments work in almost the exact same way as regular oral contraceptives do. Regular birth control pills (commonly called The Pill) work by either preventing the eggs from leaving the ovaries or by thickening the cervical mucus so sperm can’t reach the egg. IUDs and the morning-after-pill work in the same way. The exact way depends on the type of treatment you receive. Some IUDs prevent pregnancy in the same way The Pill does: with hormones that prevent the egg from ever leaving the ovary or by thickening the cervical mucus. Others affect how the sperm moves within the body to prevent them from reaching the eggs. The morning-after-pills help delay the release of an egg so there is nothing to fertilize.
NONE of these treatments directly cause abortions. An abortion is defined as a “deliberate termination of a pregnancy”. According to that definition and what I’ve outlined above none of these treatments are causing abortions because they prevent pregnancy from ever happening. There are dozens of studies and years of research to back up these facts. If you walk into any Planned Parenthood clinic a team of trained medical staff will be happy to discuss all of these particulars to you.
You can read more about contraceptives of all kinds at PlannedParenthood.org
So here’s the thing about the Hobby Lobby ruling. Despite the sound medical science behind these drugs the owners of the company continue to believe (despite mounting evidence to the contrary) that these drugs cause abortions. Not that they may lead to a miscarriage or medical complications that might lead to a necessary medical abortion but that they are the direct cause of abortions. That’s simply not a fact and with less than five minutes of research you can disprove it.
Many people I’ve talked to about this issue have said “Well that’s their opinion. They’re entitled to it.”
See that’s the tricky thing about opinions. Yes we live in America and I can go on a street corner and spout off my opinion that the sky is blue because we live inside the eye of a blue eyed giant (Oh Game of Thrones I miss you so). But no matter how hard I might believe in that opinion it simply isn’t true. There is a hard scientific reason why the sky is blue and the grass is green. Just because your opinion is something different does not make it true. In fact the definition of “opinion” is: a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. So just by the basic definition of the word we can already see the fault logic behind the above statement.
Further along that line of thinking why should one person’s (or even several people’s) opinion be what decides the coverage for their employees? I don’t get opinions from my boss and then go to my doctor to ask for what my boss recommended on his/her personal beliefs or experiences. I go to my trained doctor who has medical knowledge beyond mine and ask their opinion on what would be best for me.
In addition to the Hobby Lobby case there are many other cases awaiting decisions for similar situations. Some companies don’t want to cover birth control in any form because they (wrongly) believe it ends unborn life. Some doctors and pharmacists are refusing to write or fill prescriptions based on their personal beliefs.
I don’t go to the doctor to hear their personal beliefs about birth control, abortion, when life begins, emergency contraceptives, or any other type of treatment. I go to them because they have gone to medical school in order to learn about all the options available to me as a human being. I honestly don’t care if my doctor has a religious or moral conviction that drives him not to prescribe certain forms of contraceptives. Unless that conviction can be backed up by sound and generally accepted medical science it is not relevant to what I believe and what my health care needs might be. If that is their conviction perhaps they should consider another line of work.
All the women in my family take birth control. Even my younger sisters have to. Yes they have to. Why? Because otherwise we have terrible debilitating cramps that leave us unable to function in our normal day to day life. My grandmother had to hospitalized from the amount of blood she would lose during her period and have transfusions to replace the lost blood. Without birth control we could not have led normal, healthy lives and the idea that a doctor would deny us that right boils my blood.
Finally the members of the court who voted for the decision (all the women voted against it interestingly enough) suggested that perhaps the government find a way to compensate these women who might have a legitimate medical need to have these specific types of treatments. This is the most round about way of doing things especially considering how frothy the Republican party got over the idea of the government paying for any form of contraceptives in the past. Remember Rush Limbaugh’s rant about sluts and birth control in 2012? The young woman he called a “slut” and a “prostitute” was Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown student who stood before Congress to advocate for coverage of birth control in religious institutions. And yet the conservative party ate it up.
On the other side of the spectrum has any doctor or pharmacist asked a man whether or not he plans on using the Viagra he purchased (which insurance can often cover with no problem) for having an affair? Of course not. Because men can be trusted to make medical decisions about their health and no one, not the government, the church, or anyone else, thinks to question them.
The bottom line is that over 90% of sexually active women use some form of contraception in their lifetime. That might include anything from condoms to the-morning-after-pill. We represent 50% (give or take) of the population of the entire country and yet American society still feels the need to ‘protect’ women from the ‘dangers’ of certain health care products as if we are not capable of making out own medical decisions about our bodies. Regardless of what her employers, parents, friends, or anyone else thinks, every woman should have access to information that is accepted by the medical community at large and the right to access treatments decided on between herself and her doctor.