It’s a difficult reality, but it needs to be stated: a ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby could lead to more abortions. We recognize that this is a provocative statement. Our intention is not merely to get your attention, but to provoke thought. As an evangelical Christian, political science professor and a Jewish, family-planning physician we hope to shed some light on the consequences of an issue that has been at the center of too much partisan rancor and division.
The issues are birth control and whether private for-profit corporations can deny their employees coverage based on the religious beliefs of their owners. In just a few weeks, the Supreme Court will decide what the Constitution requires. We believe that whatever the court decision, faith-based businesses that value life should provide the full range of birth control options for their employees.
Bottom line: Contraception doesn’t cause abortions, it helps prevent them. A ruling allowing for-profit corporations to deny their employees contraceptive coverage would actually undermine increased access to the most effective ways to prevent unintended pregnancy and abortions.
In March, the court heard arguments from a $3 billion national chain of craft and home décor stores called Hobby Lobby. Along with nearly 50 other for-profit corporations that have filed suit, Hobby Lobby is demanding a similar religious opt-out from the contraceptive requirement in the Affordable Care Act that the Obama administration has granted to houses of worship and faith-based nonprofits.
Here is the irony: Although the owners of these for-profit corporations oppose the contraceptive requirement because of their pro-life religious beliefs, the requirement they oppose will dramatically reduce abortions.
First, we feel a moral obligation to clear something up. Misinformation and outdated research have bred confusion as to how exactly various methods of contraception work. Freedom of religion is too important for claims of conscience not to be based on scientific evidence.
To be clear: None of the contraceptive methods employers are required to cover under the Affordable Care Act cause abortion, including the specific types of contraception to which Hobby Lobby objects. Instead, these contraceptive methods work by preventing pregnancy (fertilization) from occurring in the first place. For instance, the intrauterine device works primarily by preventing fertilization. Plan B (or the progestin-containing, morning-after pill), along with Ella (ulipristal acetate), delay the release of a woman’s egg from her ovary. The egg does not get fertilized, which means the woman does not become pregnant.
In fact, long-acting contraceptive methods, such as IUDs and implants, are the most effective forms of contraception for preventing unintended pregnancies. And preventing unintended pregnancy is key for those who identify as pro-life, because almost half of all unintended pregnancies end in abortion.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.