Make Abortions an Anomaly: Support Contraception Coverage

Let’s get one thing clear: no one dreams of having an abortion. Here, America stands united. We all want to lower the U.S. abortion rate. We all want fewer unplanned pregnancies. We all want “life.” We all want to see an America filled with happy, healthy families and babies.

But, as a recent article by Julia K. Stronks and Jeffrey F. Peipert, “an evangelical Christian, political science professor and a Jewish, family-planning physician,” states clearly, if the upcoming Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision ruling favors Hobby Lobby, it “could lead to more abortions.”

The article, “A Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Hobby Lobby Could Lead to More Abortions,” describes a study done at the Washington University School of Medicine on contraceptive use and the abortion rate:

“The St. Louis Contraceptive CHOICE Project demonstrated that we are not just talking about a difference at the margins. Investigators at Washington University School of Medicine enrolled almost 10,000 women at-risk for unintended pregnancy. When they were given their choice of birth control methods, counseled about their effectiveness, risks, and benefits, with all methods provided at no cost, about 75 percent of women in the study chose the most effective methods: IUDs or implants.

As a result, annual abortion rates among study participants dropped to approximately 50 percent to 80 percent below the national abortion rate.”

The studies and data trends show increased contraception education and use highly correlated with lower abortion rates. If the Supreme Court ruling on “Pro-Life” Hobby Lobby allows “for-profit corporations to deny their employees contraceptive coverage,” it’s likely to increase the abortion rate. Sadly, “half of all unintended pregnancies end in abortion”; however, contraceptive use can help prevent those unintended pregnancies in the first place.

A Brookings Institution report from the Washington University School of Medicine found “more than 90 percent of U.S. abortions occur due to an unintended pregnancy.”[i] A ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby in Sebelius v Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc would “extend religious standing to for-profit corporations,” allowing them to use the 1993 “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” to exempt themselves from a wide array of non-contraceptive health care services, like psychiatric and transfusion services.[ii]

A favorable decision for Hobby Lobby comes with serious potential consequences and high-stakes risks, but also with significant, distressing irony: “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.”[iii]

In other words, though Hobby Lobby’s great fear is that these “drugs and devices can terminate a human embryo,”[1] in reality, none of the “drugs or devices” they object to are actually capable of causing an abortion.[iv]

The Guttmacher Institute reports that “the U.S. abortion rate is at its lowest since the 1970’s.” As Stronks and Peipert write: “The contraception mandate could very well reduce the abortion rate to its lowest point on record.”

Hobby Lobby is irresponsibly gambling with our national abortion rate using medically and scientifically incorrect, outdated, research. Hobby Lobby is making a grave mistake. As Stronks and Peipert have said, “Freedom of religion is too important for claims of conscience not to be based on scientific evidence.”

The point Stronks and Peipert make is so important it bears repeating:

“It’s a difficult reality, but it needs to be stated: a ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby could lead to more abortions.”

 

 

 


[1] Lori Windham, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (the group representing Hobby Lobby) was the one to articulate this fear. iv


[iv] http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/06/13/321638181/6-questions-about-contraception-coverage-and-the-supreme-court

 

Lindsey Bergholz is an intern for Eleison Group, a consulting firm that seeks “to align what is right with what works politically and economically.” She is a graduate of the University of Miami, a law student at George Washington, and a bookworm who occasionally takes a break from geeking-out to volunteer with animals.


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