So how do contraceptives work?

Pro-lifers are told not to worry about the morning after pill, as mandated by Obamacare.  It doesn’t work by preventing the fertilized egg from being implanted in the womb, though that was how it used to be described.  It simply prevents ovulation, just like a regular birth control pill.  (Though how it prevents pregnancy the morning after ovulation has occurred is not clear.)  See the facts cited and the links given in our discussion of the Morning After pill on this blog here and here.

But when pro-lifers promote measures defining “personhood” as existing from the moment of conception, we are told that this would outlaw contraception, including the birth control pill, which–though we were always told it prevents ovulation–prevents the fertilized egg from being implanted in the womb.  (Example after the jump.)  If that’s true, many women would not want to take the things.  But that’s not what they have been told about how they work.

Is this dishonesty, rhetorical manipulation, or ignorance?  And what should we conclude about contraception from this controversy? [Read more...]

Over-the-counter morning-after pill for all ages

Recently, the FDA approved the “morning-after pill,” a contraceptive taken after sex, for sale without a prescription to females over 15 years old.  That created a furor from those who wanted it available to girls even younger.  The government has given up the fight, so now the pill will be sold over-the-counter to children.

Details after the jump, along with a debate over the drug.  Topics include, “does the pill cause abortion?”  (At first, the pill makers said that it stopped the implantation of a fertilized egg.  Now they are saying it simply prevents ovulation, which could take place while sperm are present.  At 89% effectiveness, though, it would seem to be working also after ovulation has taken place.  At any rate, no one seems to know exactly how the pill works or what its effects are, which seems odd in a drug sold over the counter.)  Also, “what will be the moral impact of the pill?”  What do you think? [Read more...]

The morning after abortion pill, over-the-counter

The “morning after” pill, designed to induce abortion immediately after sex, will now be available without a prescription to any female 15 and over.  This, my friends, is bigger than Roe v. Wade. [Read more...]

And now abortifacient vending machines

The “morning after pill” is now coming to vending machines:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration won’t take any regulatory action over a vending machine at a Pennsylvania college that dispenses the morning-after pill. [Read more...]

Law forcing sales of abortion pill struck down

Yes, Christians have often criticized the courts.  But as anti-religion laws proliferate, the courts may be a wall of defense.  The same judge that struck down the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about gays has made a ruling that protects religious conscience:

A federal court in Tacoma, Washington, struck down a Washington law that requires pharmacists to dispense the morning-after pill even when doing so would violate their religious beliefs. The court held that the law violates the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.

“Today’s decision sends a very clear message: No individual can be forced out of her profession solely because of her religious beliefs,” said Luke Goodrich, Deputy National Litigation Director at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The Becket Fund, together with the Seattle-based law firm of Ellis, Li & McKinstry, represents the plaintiffs in the case. “If the state allows pharmacies to refer patients elsewhere for economic, business, and convenience reasons, it has to allow them to refer for reasons of conscience,” added Mr. Goodrich.

The plaintiffs in the case are a family-owned pharmacy (Ralph’s Thriftway) and two individual pharmacists (Margo Thelen and Rhonda Mesler) who cannot in good conscience dispense Plan B (“the morning-after pill”) or ella (“the week-after pill”). These individuals believe that human life begins at the moment of fertilization, and that these drugs destroy human life because they can operate by destroying a fertilized egg, or embryo. Rather than dispensing those drugs, they refer patients to one of dozens of nearby pharmacies that stock and dispense them.

In 2007, the Washington State Board of Pharmacy passed new regulations making it illegal to refer patients to neighboring pharmacies for reasons of conscience, despite allowing them to refer patients elsewhere for a wide variety of business, economic, or convenience reasons. Because of the regulations, Margo Thelen lost her job; Rhonda Mesler was told she would have to transfer to another state; and Kevin Stormans, the owner of Ralph’s Thriftway, faced repeated investigations and threats of punishment from the State Board of Pharmacy.

“The Board of Pharmacy’s 2007 rules are not neutral, and they are not generally applicable,” the Court explained. “They were designed instead to force religious objectors to dispense Plan B, and they sought to do so despite the fact that refusals to deliver for all sorts of secular reasons were permitted.”

via Court Strikes Down Law Requiring Pharmacies to Dispense the Morning-After Pill | Becket Fund.

Maybe this will become a legal precedent when the Obamacare insurance mandate ends up in court.

How our government thinks of religion

Joseph Knippenberg at First Thoughts finds a telling quotation from Leondra Kruger, Assistant to the Solicitor General, arguing at the Supreme Court in the Hosanna-Tabor case:

The government’s interest extends in this case beyond the fact that this is a retaliation to the fact that this is not a church operating internally to promulgate and express religious belief internally. It is a church that has decided to open its doors to the public to provide the service, socially beneficial service, of educating children for a fee, in compliance with State compulsory education laws.

Mr. Knippenberg points out that this mindset helps explain why the government is requiring religious institutions except for churches to provide their employees free Morning After pills and birth control devices, even if doing so violates their religious beliefs:

The reasoning here is perfectly consistent with the thought animating the narrowly-drawn exemption to the widely reviled contraceptive mandate. Whenever a church or house of worship ceases to be simply inward-looking, when it in any way engages or serves the wider public, it becomes subject to much the same sort of government regulation as any secular entity. Relgious freedom is a purely private freedom. The moment you enter the public sphere, you’re subject to regulation. The public sphere is by definition secular, not pluralistic, with its tone, terms, and limits set by governmental authority. . . .

The logic of its argument in these two cases is that any religious institution that is public-serving has to behave in many instances (those determined by the state) like every other public-serving organization. The religious presence in the public square can’t be distinctive except in ways the government permits.

Pursued consistently across the board (and the Obama Administration hasn’t yet done this), this approach would gravely threaten religious freedom. It’s one thing to say (as some have, though I disagree with them), that if you take public dollars, you have to be thoroughly secular in your operation. Anyone can escape the secularizing effect of public money by refusing to accept it. It’s quite another to say that if you serve the public, your religiosity can’t permeate your efforts and your organization. This would require almost every religious organization I know of to choose between reaching out as a bearer of good news and a helper of widows and orphans and remaining faithful to the very understanding that inspired its outreach. Under these circumstances, a church can’t remain a church.

via The Obama Admininstration’s Crabbed Vision of Religious Liberty » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.


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