The Hobby Lobby Fallout Is A Disaster For The Truly “Pro-Life”

I’ve always considered myself “pro-life” though I have distanced myself from the modern pro-life movement as I disagree with the goals (abolition instead of actual reduction) and because it’s not actually “pro-life” in any holistic sense; it’s simply pro-gun, pro-war, and pro-birth.

Most of those still culturally entrenched in the modern pro-birth movement have hailed the recent Hobby Lobby decision as a huge victory for the pro-life movement, but I think it’s a total disaster for anyone who is more than pro-birth. For the pro-birth folks however, this is a clear victory, because the only practical outcome is that we’ll see more births– at least in the short term.

The primary failure is this: this case attacked the very cure the pro-life movement should be seeking: access to contraception.

If we truly want to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, and therefore reduce the number of abortions, pro-lifers should become the “birth control people”. I don’t simply mean that we should embrace it– if we want to actually reduce unwanted pregnancy we should become the most radical contraception evangelists in society. Ironically, the IUD (one of the birth control methods involved in this case) happens to be one of the most effective forms of contraception that exists.  And yet, these pro-lifers don’t want women to have access to it.

The entire strategy befuddles me. When studies have shown that access to free birth control would actually reduce abortions by 75%, the issue should be an absolute “no brainer” for anyone who actually wants to reduce or eliminate the practice of abortion.

When I was still a Professional Military Education Instructor, one of the things that I’d teach my students in Airman Leadership School was using Pareto’s Principle as a method to correctly align one’s priorities for any given task. In short, Pareto’s principle teaches that 20% of our actions will often yield 80% of our results and effectively achieving one’s goal requires an identification of those high yielding tasks that fit within the 20%.

Ensuring that women have access to a full-range of free contraceptives is certainly among the 20% of goals that would yield high result– we could literally reduce abortion by 75% if we’d just do it.

Unfortunately, the modern pro-birth movement is not only against this concept but are radically against it, which is why we saw this case go all the way to our highest courts. This is precisely why, though I am “pro-life” in the traditional sense, I simply can’t self-identify with a modern political movement that has goals and values that are completely out of synch with the name that it bears.

The question becomes, why are they so opposed to this?

It all boils down to just a few forms of contraception which the pro-life movement claims causes abortions. The basic argument is that if an egg is allowed to be fertilized but prevented from attaching, that act constitutes an abortion. Unfortunately, science is against them– this is not what these forms of birth control are designed to do. Contraception such as the IUD can actually reduce the chance of a fertilized egg being discarded by the body. Furthermore, the oral birth control in question is usually taken prior to the egg even being fertilized, which begs the question: can one have an abortion without even having a fertilized egg inside them?

Unfortunately, this redefinition of abortion has sweeping implications for someone who I’d hope we’d agree isn’t guilty of anything: God. Here’s the math:

Without Birth Control:
Out of 100 fertile women without birth control, 100 of them will ovulate in any given month.
Out of those 100 released eggs, 33 will become fertilized.
Out of those 33, 18% will be rejected by the uterus.
In a group of 100 women not on birth control: 6 zygotes will “die”
Here’s the flip side:
With Birth Control:
Out of 100 fertile women on birth control, around 6 of them will ovulate in any given month.
Out of those 6 released eggs, only 2 will become fertilized.
Out of those 2, 100% will be rejected by the uterus.
In a group of 100 women on birth control: 2 zygotes will “die”

If a fertilized egg failing to implant in the uterus constitutes an abortion, well– God causes more abortions than birth control does.

This ought show us that we’re having the wrong discussion entirely. Instead of “when does life begin?” we should be having the discussion, “when does pregnancy begin?” and from there have an ethical discussion on when or how it may be or may not be ethical to terminate a pregnancy. If pregnancy begins at implantation (not fertilization), these contraception most certainly do not cause abortions. One can only say they cause abortions if they believe that pregnancy begins at fertilization.

And, if that’s the case, God himself has some explaining to do– because that argument makes God a natural abortion provider.

The entire case is a disaster for those who actually want to see abortion reduced, and here’s why:

1. At least in the short term, this case makes access to birth control harder, not easier– and the facts show the latter is actually how we reduce abortions. This is perhaps the most ironic: until a federal work-around is found for employees, this decision will actually cause more abortions! That’s not very “pro-life”.

2. This case, while originally thought to be limited in impact, has since been functionally re-interpreted by the court. We’re now seeing that the interpretation of the decision is far more broad than what we were told in the initial wake of the decision. Many other employers are about to get on board, and some are already asking to be exempt from providing any birth control.

3. This case redefines both pregnancy and abortion in a way so radical that it implicates God himself.

If you self-identify as “pro-life” as I do, please ask yourself: do you want to see abortion rates actually decline and go away, or do you simply want to make it illegal? If you actually want to see unwanted pregnancies reduced, and actually want to see abortions decline, then please join me in being not an obstructionist, but in becoming a contraception evangelist.

I’d love to see elective abortions end just as much as the next person. However, simply abolishing the legality of it while simultaneously making free birth control harder to obtain, is the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard of.

About Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey, is an Anabaptist author, speaker, and blogger. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Theology & Missiology), is currently a 3rd year Doctor of Missiology student (a subset of practical theology) at Fuller Seminary, and is a member of the Phi Alpha Chi Honors Society. His first book, Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, is available now at your local bookstore. He is also a contributor for Time, Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, Evangelicals for Social Action, Mennonite World Review, has been a guest on Huffington Post Live, and is one of the CANA Initiators. Ben is also a syndicated author for MennoNerds, a collective of Mennonite and Anabaptist writers. Ben is also co-host of That God Show with Matthew Paul Turner. Ben lives in Auburn, Maine with his wife Tracy and his daughter Johanna.

You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.


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