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What’s At Stake For Birth Control In Upcoming SCOTUS Decision

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The owners say they are opposed to some forms of birth control – particularly emergency contraceptives Plan B and Ella, which can be used to prevent pregnancy if taken within 24 hours to as much as five days after unprotected sex – because these contraceptives prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus That is tantamount to a very early abortion, which violates their religion, they argue. The Greens – but not the Hahns – also object to two types of intrauterine devices (IUDs) for the same reasons.

“These abortion-causing pills go against our faith, and our family is now being forced to choose between following the laws of the land that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful and supported our family and thousands of our employees and their families,” Hobby Lobby founder David Green told reporters on a conference call when the lawsuit was originally filed.

Do those drugs and devices actually cause abortions?

Not according to the vast majority of medical and scientific opinion.

“Federal law and State law – which do preclude funding for abortions – don’t consider these particular forms of contraception to be abortion,” said U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verilli during the oral arguments in the case on behalf of the Obama administration. “We’ve got about 2 million women who rely on the IUD as a method of birth control in this country. I don’t think they are engaged in abortion in doing that.”

The brief filed by 10 medical groups led by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists noted: “there is a scientific distinction between a contraceptive and an abortifacient and the scientific record demonstrates that none of the FDA-approved contraceptives covered by the Mandate are abortifacients.”

That’s because the standard medical definition of the start of pregnancy is when a fertilized egg implants in a woman’s uterus, not when sperm and egg first unite.

But while blocking implantation of a fertilized egg does not fit the medical definition of pregnancy, it does qualify as ending a life for many religious people.

“As far as the science goes, the FDA has said these four drugs and devices can terminate a human embryo,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has been representing Hobby Lobby. She noted that the labels for the emergency contraceptives and IUDs say they can prevent implantation.

In the case of one and perhaps both of the emergency contraceptive pills, however, new research suggests they may not work that way at all – they much more likely simply prevent the fertilization of the egg in the first place.

Does whether these products cause abortion matter for purposes of this case?

Fri, Jun 13 2014

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