Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard about the Hobby Lobby hubbub and the Supreme Court’s decision that a privately held company can choose which contraception options its insurance plans will cover based on the owner’s religious values.
I’m surprisingly not outraged. I think I’m too exhausted from fact checking every talking point and argument to be outraged.
Maybe I’ve become accustomed to politicians, corporations, and religious institutions banding together to stick their nose in women’s business that I am no longer surprised when hard science loses to “religious liberty” and “belief.”
See, the whole basis of the Hobby Lobby case was that the owners of the company had moral objections to four contraception options (copper IUDs, hormonal IUDs, Plan B, and Ella) covered by the ACA because they consider them abortifacients, meaning they induce an abortion.
IUDs and emergency contraception do not abort a fetus.
Most don’t even interfere with fertilization.
Emergency contraception like Plan B and Ella work by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary.
(An egg is not a fetus.)
Hormonal IUDs thicken the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching or fertilizing an egg, thins the lining of the uterus and partially suppresses ovulation.
(A sperm and an egg in the same general vicinity is not a fetus)
The copper IUD does not stop the release of an egg from the ovary, but it is similar in that it prevents sperm from reaching or fertilizing the egg, and may prevent implantation in the uterus.
(A fertilized egg is not a fetus)
The problem with the Hobby Lobby owners and others sharing their belief, is that it is scientifically inaccurate. They say “Life begins at conception.” Well, conception is much more than just a sperm managing to squirm it’s way into an egg. It is a process that can take up to 18 days. This is something they gloss over in even the most comprehensive of sex education lessons.
Let’s learn a little bit more about how babies are made.
According to the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology the first step in conception is ovulation, the monthly release of a woman’s egg. Then the egg must be fertilized. A single sperm penetrating the barrier of the egg can take up to 24 hours, then creating a zygote. If fertilization is successful (and very often it isn’t), the zygote begins to divide and travel down the Fallopian tubes. In the few days it takes to travel from the Fallopian tubes to the uterus it divides to form a ball of cells called a blastocyst.
Now, you can believe that life begins at fertilization, just like you can believe that we were all descended from Adam and Eve, or that the world is flat.
Believing it doesn’t make it true.
A blastocyst is not a baby. It is not a fetus. It is not even an embryo. It is a pre-embryo. It will not become an embryo until it has implanted in the uterine lining which can take anywhere from eight to eighteen days.
A pregnancy is considered to be established only after implantation is complete.
Your body does not start producing human chorionic gonadotropin (that’s the baby making hormone they test your blood for in a pregnancy test) until after the blastocyst has implanted in the uterus. Both the scientific community and the federal government agree that pregnancy “encompasses the period of time from implantation until delivery.” (Even George Bush agreed.)
Emergency contraceptive pills prevent pregnancy primarily, or perhaps exclusively, by delaying or inhibiting ovulation.
There is no evidence to suggest that either Plan B or Ella works after an egg is fertilized.
The copper IUD is the only FDA approved contraception (emergency or otherwise) that will prevent pregnancy after fertilization. Even then, the copper IUD must be inserted by a professional no more than five days after intercourse. Which is the earliest a blastocyst would be making its way into the uterus for implantation.
I could maybe, possibly, understand if they didn’t want to participate in the shared insurance cost of a copper IUD as emergency contraception, but the primary function of it as a contraceptive method is to make the uterus and Fallopian tubes are too toxic an environment for sperm to survive in, thereby making the uterus too harsh an environment for a blastocyst to implant.
Conception begins at ovulation and ends with implantation.
Only copper IUDs prevent conception after fertilization.
Pregnancy does not begin until implantation.
So, even if Hobby Lobby and those that share their beliefs, believe that life begins at fertilization, only one of the four objectionable contraception options could be considered an “abortifacient.”
Even though it isn’t.
Because the very word abortifacient literally means “making miscarriage.” You can’t abort a cluster of cells that haven’t implanted in the uterus. The earliest you can take “pharmaceutical abortifacients” is four weeks from the date of your last menstrual cycle (pending a positive pregnancy test detecting human chorionic gonadotropin) because for pharmaceutical abortifacients to work, an egg must have implanted in the uterus.
The Supreme Court didn’t rule on the side of religious liberty. They ruled on the side of anti-science.
There has been catastrophic failure on all sides of this argument. Hobby Lobby and those sharing their beliefs were completely ignorant to what they were objecting to. The Supreme Court justices ruling in their favor failed to bring to light that ignorance, maybe because they too shared those beliefs. The media’s great failure was in perpetuating uninformed outrage on both sides.
Even I was duped by the media. It wasn’t until after the ruling that I even knew Hobby Lobby was objecting to only four of the 20 FDA approved methods of contraception. In every article I read, with the exception to one or two on conservative websites, simply stated they were arguing religious exemption from the contraception mandate in the ACA. This is the liberal equivalent of “They’re coming for your guns!” when anyone mentions the possibility of back ground checks.
Yes, I am angry about the ruling. I think it’s ridiculous that an employer can cherry-pick what they will or won’t share insurance costs on in an employer sponsored plan. In my opinion, it is gross overreach into an employees personal life — and not just in the bedroom.
A person’s medical decisions should be between them and their doctor. Insurance should be, and usually is, just a means to pay for treatment of medical issues or prevention of possible medical issues.
This Supreme Court decision has the possibility to open a whole can of worms that will clog our court systems for decades to come, which Justice Ginsburg noted in her dissent.
“Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”
This opens the door for “closely held” corporations to use the same argument to deny shared costs in insurance coverage based on any number of religious beliefs. Even if Justice Alito of the majority believes the ruling should not be understood to hold that an insurance coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs.
Instead of clarifying the law, as the Supreme Court should do, it has simply muddied the waters.
I’m not outraged, I’m disappointed.
Camicia Bennett: Founder of The Well Written Woman, Florida Native and cerebral creature, she loves her husband, yoga, red wine, potty humor, swearing superfluously and putting hats on her dog. If given her druthers she’d be surfing the web and writing randomness from someplace sunny and tropical whilst sipping her favorite vino. Oh wait, that’s exactly what she does.You can find her randomly sharing her own brand of slightly pretentious propaganda at her personal blog.