The Hobby Lobby case is based on the objections of David Green, CEO, founder, and owner of Hobby Lobby, to certain common forms of contraception, based on his belief that they are not contraceptives at all, but abortifacients. This is the conclusion of a very simple syllogism:
P1: Human life begins at conception, that is when an ovum is fertilized by a sperm cell to create a zygote.
P2: The devices and medication he objects to act by preventing zygotes from implanting in the uterus.
C: Thus they act by causing the death of a human.
The logic here is correct. A strong case can be made that premise 1 deserves First Amendment protection as a religious belief. So if we admit Premise 2, we have to agree that the conclusion also deserves protection. Should we?
Well, no. According to Jamie Manson in, of all places, the Catholic Reporter:
The HHS mandate allows women free access to all FDA-approved forms of contraception. This includes the IUDs (intrauterine devices), the drug Plan B (levonorgestrel) and a new drug called Ella (ulipristal acetate), which came on the market in 2010. Church officials and others have argued that because these three contraceptives are abortifacients, the government is forcing them to participate in the distribution of devices and drugs that cause abortion. The reality is that there is overwhelming scientific evidence that the IUD and Plan B work only as contraceptives.
Likewise, according to Diana L. Blithe, director of contraceptive development for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, as quoted in the New York Times:
“There’s so much evidence for how these things work prior to fertilization, and there’s no evidence that they work beyond fertilization.”
The pattern is quite clear. Assertions are made by religious figures (in the Times piece, the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod and Richard Land, the head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention), and repeated by believers like David Green, while the actual medical evidence flatly contradicts them.
Harrison’s statement was made in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a hearing famous for discussing contraception without involving any women (e.g. Sandra Fluke). It also failed to call any witnesses with medical knowledge to correct these misstatements. Likewise, it’s fascinating to me that in our recent mock Supreme Court, the subject of whether the Green’s beliefs deserve special protection was examined from all possible angles, while the question of whether they rest on fact or falsehood was never even brought up. And I find it entirely reprehensible that in the real world, people could be denied access to the health care they need based on this sort of pernicious nonsense.