WSJ Privileges False Belief That Emergency Contraceptives Are Abortifacients

Blog ››› ››› SAMANTHA WYATT

plan B

The Wall Street Journal gave credence to Hobby Lobby's scientifically-disproven view that emergency contraceptives are abortifacients by privileging the claims of the corporation, currently fighting to expand corporate personhood with the notion that the Affordable Care Act's "contraception mandate" violates its religious liberty.

On March 25, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, a case that could allow secular, for-profit corporations an unprecedented religious exemption from the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) "contraception mandate," which requires all insurance plans to cover preventive health services without co-pays, including birth control. The owners of Hobby Lobby argue that the contraception mandate will force them to violate their religious beliefs by requiring them to offer insurance that covers forms of emergency contraception -- namely the morning after pill and IUDs -- that they incorrectly equate with abortion.

The Wall Street Journal's Jess Bravin privileged that falsehood on March 24, highlighting Hobby Lobby's beliefs without mention that the science is settled against the corporation: IUDs and the morning-after pill are not akin to abortion:

The companies' owners, who are, respectively, evangelical and Mennonite Christians, say they consider emergency contraceptives--"morning after" pills and some intrauterine devices--to be forms of abortion, which is anathema to their religious beliefs. For the corporations to win, the court must find that including such contraceptives in company-sponsored insurance would "substantially burden" their owners' religious exercise, unjustified by a "compelling government interest."

Medical experts at the National Institutes of Health, the Mayo Clinic, and the International Federation of Gynecology all agree that IUDs and morning-after pills are contraceptive, and prevent pregnancy by blocking ovulationnot by terminating a fertilized egg. Mother Jones explained (emphasis added):

The company argues that emergency contraception pills, such as Ella and Plan B, destroy fertilized eggs by interfering with implantation in the uterus. Hobby Lobby's owners consider this abortion. But the pills don't work that way. When Plan B first came on the market in 1999, its mechanism for preventing unplanned pregnancies wasn't entirely clear. That's why the FDA-approved labeling reflected some uncertainty and said that the pills "theoretically" prevent pregnancy by interfering with implantation.

Since then, though, there has been a lot of research on how these pills work, and the findings are definitive: They prevent pregnancy by blocking ovulation. In fact, they don't work once ovulation has occurred. As Corbin recently wrote in a law review article, "Every reputable scientific study to examine Plan B's mechanism has concluded that these pills prevent fertilization from occurring in the first place...In short, Plan B is contraception."

Image via Lalvanova under a Creative Commons License

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform, Reproductive Rights
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The Wall Street Journal
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