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3 Facts I Hope the Supreme Court Keeps in Mind About Birth Control

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March 26, 2014

You might have heard about that birth control case involving Hobby Lobby that’s reached the Supreme Court. The case is Sibelius v Hobby Lobby and oral arguments were held yesterday, Tuesday March 25th. For those of you who might be wondering what the case is about, The Washington Post explains thusly:

“It all starts with the Affordable Care Act. The law stipulates that employers need to provide health care for their employees that covers all forms of contraception at no cost. However, some for-profit corporations have insisted they should not have to pay for all of these services. The owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties don’t have a problem with offering insurance that covers most forms of birth control, but they aren’t willing to cover emergency contraceptives — like Plan B or ella — or IUDs. Hobby Lobby contends its “religious beliefs prohibit them from providing health coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices that end human life after conception.”

Yes, Hobby Lobby doesn’t have a problem with offering insurance that covers most forms of birth control. They draw the line at IUDs however, even though IUDs are some of the best forms of birth control, but that’s just my opinion. What a lot of the media conveniently forgets to tell us is that Hobby Lobby’s reason for objecting to IUDs and emergency contraception is based on incorrect science. You see, Hobby Lobby incorrectly claims that IUDs and emergency contraception induce abortion. And they can’t cover IUDs and emergency contraception in their employees’ health coverage because that would violate their religious beliefs. The thing is, IUDs and emergency contraception DO NOT induce abortion.  IUDs and emergency contraception DO NOT induce abortion. It bears repeating because so many people wrongly think they do. Since IUDs and emergency contraception DO NOT induce abortion, Hobby Lobby will not be violating their religious beliefs by covering these two contraceptives.

In the op ed, The Danger of Giving Science and Religion Equal Weight On Birth Control Cases, Dr Lin-Fan Wang reprimands the media about how in their quest to present “both sides” of the issue, they become complicit in perpetuating lies about IUDs and emergency contraception and thereby misleading their audiences:

“The news coverage of the birth control benefit has been riddled with inaccurate statements, in particular, the allegations that the law requires coverage of abortifacients (medicine that causes abortion) or that the science is unclear on whether the FDA-approved contraceptives are abortifacients. Neither of these statements is true from a medical or scientific viewpoint and no matter how many times they’re repeated in the media’s misguided efforts to present multiple sides of an argument. What would be best for readers: the media should adhere to the facts. Some readers are interested in opinions on the facts, but opinions and facts are not the same.”

So for the Supreme Court, and everyone else following this case, I encourage you to keep in mind these 3 facts, courtesy of Lin-Fan Wang, MD, MPH, regarding Sibelius v Hobby Lobby:

FACT #1: The ACA requires new health insurance plans to cover the full spectrum of FDA-approved forms of birth control. It does not require coverage of abortion or abortifacients.

FACT #2: No FDA-approved forms of birth control – including emergency contraception pills or the IUD – cause abortions. Emergency contraception pills and IUDs prevent pregnancy, not disrupt pregnancy.

FACT #3: Pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants into the uterine lining. After implantation, that’s when a pregnancy test turns positive. Even among women not on birth control, not every fertilized egg implants. Therefore, the possibility that the copper IUD could inhibit implantation does not make it an abortifacient. This is not an opinion. This is the shared consensus of the medical and scientific community, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

This case is important for many reasons, the health and economic well being of millions of women and families are at stake. Universal access to reproductive health care, which includes contraception, is part of the UN’s Millenium Development Goals. Studies after studies have shown that access to reproductive health care allows for healthier and wealthier families and better educated children The use of contraception to plan families allows for women to participate in the workforce and achieve economic independence. This case is also important because of the precedent it might set by opening up the floodgates of discrimination.

It shouldn’t be up to politicians to regulate women’s bodies. It shouldn’t be up to employers to decide which medical services to cover, especially when those employers are basing their decisions on incorrect science. Of course this case brings to light how badly our country needs medically accurate comprehensive sex education. Imagine if we had medically accurate comprehensive sex ed programs that taught people that IUDs and emergency contraception DO NOT induce abortion. What if people were aware that no FDA approved forms of birth control cause abortions? Well, the Supreme Court might put their time to better use.


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