Misconceptions

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Mike Schilling

Mike has been a software engineer far longer than he would like to admit. He has strong opinions on baseball, software, science fiction, comedy, contract bridge, and European history, any of which he's willing to share with almost no prompting whatsoever.

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52 Responses

  1. Avatar Griff says:

    I didn’t read through all the Hobby Lobby threads but I was wondering if anyone brought this up. It’s easily the thing about the case that most offends my sensibilities.Report

  2. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    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.

    Fortunately, in the real world nobody’s trying to do that.Report

    • Avatar Herb in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      Not sure that’s so perfectly aligned with the Hobby Lobby position…..or that they would even agree with it.

      Yes, Hobby Lobby is arguing that they should be allowed to deny people access to an employer-sponsored healthplan that includes contraception coverage. The denial of access is the point.

      What you’re doing here is latching onto the idea that HL employees can go buy insurance elsewhere, which apparently is supposed to mean no actual denial has occurred.

      I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but –from lunch counters to wedding alters– we’ve been moving away from that kind of thinking for decades.Report

  3. Avatar Lab Rat says:

    Agreed, his belief is complete nonsense. It is not a matter of untestable faith, such as the existence of god. Rather, it is a demonstrably false statement. Regardless of the points of law or one’s personal opinion of the ACA, we would not have this national conversation and the Supreme Court would not have heard the case if he was a Christian Scientist who objected to providing any health care on religious grounds.Report

  4. Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

    As I understand it, that was the most complicated needle the Green team had to thread in the case, so they avoided it altogether. The standard they were arguing for was “sincere belief” which is something entirely separate from facts.

    Which is perhaps as it should be. Subjecting religious beliefs to legal standards of proof would pretty much end religion. If one is committed to absolute religious freedom, “sincerity” is the only standard possible.Report

    • Avatar Cathy in reply to Snarky McSnarksnark says:

      Yeah, but that’s because religious beliefs generally can’t be proven or disproven. Does God exist? I dunno. There’s no (admissible) evidence you could put on in court to either promote or dispute that notion. This particular “belief,” though, CAN be disproven. With Science. Which in a courtroom, would be dueling expert witnesses.

      To me, it is an acceptable answer to say “even in cases where we are 99% sure something is A, that leaves enough room for someone’s sincere religious belief that it is instead B,” for the purposes of deciding whether to credit that belief and use it as a foundation for an exemption from a general-purpose law – but maybe it decreases the weight on the scale, vs. a contradictory interest that assumes A? (Or maybe not, I’m kind of thinking out loud here.) And perhaps this case, as in most cases of Scientific Consensus, is such a case (I don’t know enough about the science involved here to know what the percentage of certainty is).

      What I don’t think should happen, though, is this deference being extended to cases where we are literally 100% sure that something is A. If Hobby Lobby’s argument were, “We don’t want to include this coverage because our religion teaches that frogs are evil, and this particular drug turns you into a frog” would we still let them argue that their religious beliefs should exempt them? Or, if we let them argue it, would we actually let them win?

      With all due respect to these hypothetical frog-haters’ beliefs, I really hope not. But the total absence of any acknowledgement of this issue in this case makes me wonder.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Snarky McSnarksnark says:

      This is why it’s a burden under the 1st. They hold a sincere belief that these are drugs and devices that cause abortion.

      That is not how they work; and they are included in the mandate to meet a variety of needs. Some women can’t take the pill or forget to take it reliably and prefer an IUD. Some women get raped and need a morning-after pill. Some women can take the pill, but need expensive prescriptions.

      They would shift his burden to their employees — 10,000 women, remember — based on their sincere belief which has no foundation in how they actually work.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to zic says:

        Why do you believe that the burden should be on the employer to begin with? What logical connection is there between employing a woman and incurring an obligation to pay for her contraceptives, or indeed any other aspect of her health care?

        Or is it just that this happens to be a politically convenient way to hide the cost of the ACA from voters who don’t understand economics?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to zic says:

        The government has made health insurance an advantageous form of compensation for employers.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to zic says:

        That’s a positive account of why many employers choose to offer health insurance as part of the compensation package. But it’s not an argument for the proposition that employers have an obligation to provide it.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to zic says:

        If they provide it, and that is the context in which we’re having this discussion, the issue is whether they have an obligation not to provide less than full coverage on the basis of gender.

        If they choose not to provide it, there’s no contraceptive issue at all.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to zic says:

        What Chris said.

        I find it problematic that the ACA requires certain businesses to provide health insurance. It serves to strengthen the coupling of insurance and employment, while I would prefer to see the opposite happen. However, if they are going to take advantage of the benefits that providing insurance as compensation provides, I think it reasonable that the government have some say over how the form that insurance-as-compensation takes.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to zic says:

        To be clear here, the “benefits” of providing insurance consist of not having to pay the fine the government arbitrarily imposes on them for not doing so.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to zic says:

        Arbitrarily? Perhaps you don’t know what that word means?

        You might argue unjustifiably, but it certainly wasn’t arbitrary.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @brandon-berg HL’s attorney’s addressed that, from scotusblog:

        Kagan and Sotomayor suggested that the company could choose not to provide insurance for its employees at all, which would subject it to a penalty of $2,000 per employee – which, Kagan speculated, is probably less than it would have to pay to provide insurance for an employee. And if that’s the case, Kagan continued, where is the substantial burden? This theory seemed to pique the interest of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is often regarded as a key vote in high-profile cases. Assuming hypothetically that the costs to the company are the same whether it provides its employees with health insurance or instead pays the penalty and compensates the employees so that they can buy their own insurance, Kennedy asked Clement, what would your case be? Clement countered that Hobby Lobby would still face a burden because, if it didn’t provide its employees with insurance, it wouldn’t be able to attract workers.

        Source: http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/03/birth-control-business-and-religious-beliefs-in-plain-english/Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to zic says:

        @brandon-berg

        It is more than that.

        Let’s say Employer A is offering a salary of $50K and health coverage and Employer B is offering just a salary of $50K. Employer A has a clear advantage. Employer B doesn’t want to offer health coverage for whatever reason, so to balance it out, they up their pay to $60K and tell employees to use the difference to buy their own coverage if they see fit. The problem is, Employer B is taxed on that additional $10K of salary differently than they are if they provide the coverage directly. And the employees are taxed differently as well. Assuming the real cost of the insurance — to either the employer or the employee — is $10K. Well, Employer B is going to have to set their salary at greater than $60K since the additional salary will be taxed upon receipt by the employee.

        So, no, it is not just the fine.Report

  5. Avatar Pinky says:

    The National Catholic Reporter is way left-of-center. (I normally object to the use of political terms to describe religious disputes, but the NCR is equally politically and religiously left-of-center.) The National Catholic Register, also abbreviated NCR, is nonpolitical and mainstream Catholic.Report

  6. Avatar zic says:

    I brought it up in comments; I linked to a Balkanization post in one comment; as well as in one of the discussions we had before the court.

    I was sort of surprised it didn’t come up either.Report

  7. 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.

    I don’t think it’s all that unusual for an appeals court–and the scotus almost always acts as an appeals court, I understand–refuse to make findings of fact, especially if none of the litigants in the case contest it.

    The pattern is quite clear. Assertions are made by religious figures…and repeated by believers like David Green, while the actual medical evidence flatly contradicts them.

    I guess I have one question and one observation. The question: how “flatly” has the medical evidence actually contradicted the assertions? The articles you quote suggest that the contradiction is clear, but is it a true consensus, the way almost all scientists believe that vaccines don’t cause autism? Or is it something that’s generally accepted but that most people concede needs more study?

    My question is a sincere one. I realize science can never completely prove something and I’m not trying to dig up the one example of someone somewhere with a PHD who says different. I’d just like to know how much of a slam dunk it is that they’re not abortifacients.

    My observation: On one of the Hobby Lobby threads, Burt mentioned that if he were a judge, he’d have to accept, for example, the sincerity of Young Earth Creationists. He also pointed out the issue is complicated, that there are certain points where one has to walk the line a bit.

    Riffing off Burt’s statement, I’d the the truth/falsity of a belief is important depending on the nature of the case. If the very thing at issue (once standing, etc., is resolved) is whether a sincerely held belief is being intruded on, it’s not usually a question whether the belief is factual. However, in most cases in which I can imagine YEC’s coming to scotus, the issue is more directly related to what is or isn’t factual. For example, where the object of litigation is likely to be education policy that directly implicates a factual issue, like evolution and the natural sciences, it becomes important not only whether the YEC’er’s really believe what they do. It also becomes a question of whether their belief is credible enough to be taught as a legitimate scientific “controversy” in a public school, paid for by tax dollars, and attended by non-believers.Report

  8. Avatar zic says:

    @mike-schilling isn’t federal funding of abortion against the law? Like 100%?

    Wouldn’t all approved preventive contraceptives have to prevent an abortion, not cause one (within some margin of statistical probability)?

    Are there cases out there alleging this is a violation of federal law? Because that’s not what’s at issue here — this is about the Green’s belief it causes an abortion.

    Or am I missing something?Report

  9. Avatar Clancy says:

    Hi, gentle people, it’s Clancy Himmelreich, wife of the illustrious Will Truman and baby-delivering family medicine hospitalist doctor. I’ll preface this entire epistle by saying I have NOT read all the details of the Hobby Lobby case; I don’t know the precise degree to which the Hobby Lobby people did or did not attempt to investigate the facts behind the idea that contraception = abortifacient, and this is not an attempt to do that. Just the facts, folks, so with them what you will.

    To start, the statement that all forms of contraception are abortifacients would be incorrect. Do some of them technically fall under that category? Yes; however, the overwhelming majority of the time, this isn’t the case. Here’s a breakdown of how each of the currently available methods work.

    These following methods attempt to prevent sperm from ever contacting the egg, so no zygote gets formed in the first place.

    — Barrier methods: as the name suggests, there’s a physical barrier in the form of a condoms or a diaphragm preventing sperm from accessing egg.

    — Tubal ligation or occlusion: tubes are cut, tied, burned, blocked, or some combination of the above to mechanically disrupt the pathway between egg and sperm.

    — Spermicide: if the little swimmers are dead, they can’t reach the egg to fertilize it.

    — Progesterone-only hormonal contraception: this includes Depo Provera (the shot), Implanon (implanted rod under the skin of the upper arm), and the “mini-pill” (progesterone only birth control pills), all of which contain only a progesterone. This thickens cervical mucus, creating a hostile environment for sperm in that they can’t swim through it to reach the egg.

    IUDs work via a somewhat mixed mechanism. Placing a “foreign body” into the uterus creates a sort of low-grade inflammation. That inflammation is toxic to both eggs and sperm, preventing pregnancy primarily by spermicidal/ovicidal effect. Secondarily — and I think this is the source of all the controversy with IUDs — that inflammation also prevents the normal development of the lining of the uterus, such that any sperm and egg that manage to survive long enough to hook up and form a zygote would be unable to implant into the lining of the uterus. There are a couple of different types of IUDs:

    — Progesterone IUDs: these release a very low dose of a progesterone hormone. In addition to the usual inflammatory response to an IUD, these work via the “hostile cervical mucus” described above.

    — Copper IUD: these contain a small amount of copper wire. The free copper and copper salts released by the IUD are thought to be spermicidal, augmenting the spermicidal effects of the inflammation response.

    Combination hormonal contraception, all of which contain two types of hormones, a progesterone and an estrogen, work primarily by suppressing ovulation; no available egg, no zygote. If a wayward egg still manages to escape, it’s still unlikely to meet up with sperm; the contraception also thickens the cervical mucus, decreases fallopian tube motility (the tube can’t move the any egg and/or zygote through to the uterus as well), and impairs the development of the lining of the uterus (as with the IUDs) such that a zygote would be unable to implant. This group includes most birth control pills, Ortho-Evra (the patch), and NuvaRing (the intravaginal ring).

    Interestingly, one of the so-called “morning after” contraceptives that’s probably gotten the most heat for supposedly being an abortifacient is one of the ones with a less controversial mechanism of action. Plan B, high-dose progesterone pills taken up to 48 hours after unprotected intercourse, work mainly by delaying ovulation, such that all the sperm within the female reproductive tract will (hopefully) die off before an egg appears. There’s also some of the “hostile cervical mucus” as noted above with other progesterone-containing methods. This WILL NOT disrupt a pregnancy by preventing implantation; if you take it too late, and sperm has already met egg, that horse is already out of the barn.

    Some of the other “morning-after” pills have more controversial mechanisms of action. Ella (ulipristal) and RU-486 (mifepristone) work and anti-progestins, opposing the action of progesterone. This leads to delayed ovulation, the primary mechanism, but also will cause poor development of the lining of the uterus, preventing implantation.

    Hope that helps for anyone curious.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Clancy says:

      Thank you, Clancy.

      And welcome.

      Your husband is one of my heros.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Clancy says:

      Thanks you, Clancy. Much appreciated.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Clancy says:

      After reading Clancy’s post, I had a few questions and asked for some clarifications for my obtuse self. I thought I would share them.

      The issue arises when a multi-tiered defense system fails. First step is fertilization, second step is implantation. The goal of all of contraception is to prevent the fertilization. The controversy occurs whenever that line of defense fails but the next one – preventing implantation – succeeds, which it does rarely but with non-zero frequency. Anti-abortion activists argue that qualifies as an abortion. Which is contestable, from what I gather, but not flatly false or absurd. But that is neither the purpose nor – the vast majority of the time the effect of contraception (and in some forms of contraception, it does not happen at all).

      I should also add that Clancy is extremely busy working a residency-like schedule and may check back in or may not. I will pass along thank-yous and may get some clarifications on questions (or may not). Also, one of the reasons she did not offer much in the way of specifics to Hobby Lobby’s claims and the case is that she has not had time to follow it very closely.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

        Glad she popped in.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        The controversy occurs whenever that line of defense fails but the next one – preventing implantation – succeeds, which it does rarely but with non-zero frequency.

        “Can occur, in theory” is the impression I get from the reading I’ve done. Though it’s a very rare situation (at most) and would be next to impossible to measure against the 50% background rate of zygotes which fail to implant sans contraception.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Will Truman says:

        So the CIA hires a guy with a shady past and tells him to get answers from a prisoner. The guy asks if he has to follow the guidelines. The CIA chief replies, just get answers, I don’t wanna know how you get them. Would we be ok with that?Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Will Truman says:

        Just to clarify: it’s possible that the interrogator will stay within the rules. There’s a non-zero chance he won’t. The CIA chief has decided that he’s not going to find out exactly what happens. He knows that if the prisoner talks quickly, there won’t be any torture, but if the prisoner takes too long, then all bets are off. We as citizens are forced to pay for this interrogation, and it is being done in our name.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        Your assumption is that the guy has tortured in the past and might do it again. To make the analogy better, say he’s been accused of it by people who disapprove of interrogation in general. People who know him and his work say he’s a skilled interrogator who gets excellent results via approved methods and there’s no evidence he’s ever tortured anyone, but can’t give a 100% ironclad guarantee it’ll never happen in the future.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Clancy says:

      Clancy, awesome of you to stop by and share that information. You rock.Report

    • Avatar Mo in reply to Clancy says:

      @clancy Any thoughts on this article? It strikes me as highly misleading and ignores many spermicidal effects. Dr. Harrison seems as allergic to saying “Cervical mucus” as a teenage boy.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Mo says:

        @mo

        I’m not an expert, but it looks like the article takes the rare instances and makes them sound common; and the section on IUD’s seems downright deceitful.

        The article is based on providing information for women who feel, like the Greens, that life begins at conception, and not at implantation.

        And my analogy for this would be seeds, that are fertilized in the flower, but have no capacity to grow until they are planted in a suitable environment with soil, water, and sunlight — the equivalent of implantation. We do not have a new plant without the planting.Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to Mo says:

        @zic That’s my thought too. The whole article reads like a way to cloak red meat tossing with a veneer of science.Report

  10. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    Thanks, Mike. As I get older I find my tolerance level for bullshit marketed as sincere religious faith diminishes daily.

    As distasteful as this all is however, I don’t know how relevant it is or should be to the case at hand. Just substitute a Catholic family in for the Greens and the substantive issues remain for the Court to deal with.

    That said, I’d actually feel better about all this, however it turns out, if the objection were “contraception is sinful” (unprovable religious doctrine) rather than “these contraceptives cause abortions” (religious doctrine depending on acceptance of scientific falsehood). I also wouldn’t care so much if real tangible harm to lots of women weren’t at stake.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Road Scholar says:

      I think the term abortion is being used in two differeny ways. Critics of the Greens can emphasize the strict medical definition of the word, but the Greens probably are using it in a looser sense, meaning it stops the process that God has already begun by bringing egg and sperm together, or one could be even looser and say it prevents a process God has intended to occur.

      Sure, they’re using the term incorrectly from a medical sense, but that doesn’t mean they are actually intending to use it in the strict medical sense.

      As an analogy, the U.S. states are not, in a proper sense, states, but provinces (states are independent and self-governing political units that can freely exchange diplomats, enter into treaties, declare war, set tariffs, coin money, etc.). But for someone from outside to object that we’re using the term “state” incorrectly is somewhat beside the point. We know what we mean, in context it’s an accurate use of the term, and we have no need to feel bound by the technical meaning.

      Likewise religious opponents of contraceptives, or certain types of contraceptives, know what they mean by abortion, it’s accurate in that religious context (and we can’t disprove their claim that God views it that way), and they have no need to feel bound by a secular technical definition.

      I’m not saying this means they should win. We can certainly say the legal definition should follow the secular medical definition rather than a religious one. But to say “they’re using the term wrong” is to assume they mean it in the secular medical context.Report

      • Thanks, @jm3z-aitch

        That was kind of what I was trying to get at in my comment above, although not really, because I was addressing something different. You’ve pretty much outlined what bothers me about some of this discussion.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        I’m pretty sure for the Greens it really is all about the distinction between preventing sperm from fertilizing egg (not abortion & okay) and preventing implantation of a fertilized egg (abortion & not okay). They’re at quite a lot of pain to say their objection is just to contraceptives that do that, and that they have no objection to contraceptives that don’t. You’re right though that their definition of abortion may not line up with the legal one. But i don’t think it includes preventing fertilization, because they’re at so many pains in the litigation to say they don’t object to contraceptives that do that.

        This is in contrast to Catholics, as Road Scholar says, who I think do see it more in terms like you describe – interfering with what God intend or would like to see. So: often not abortion, but still not okay.

        So I don’t think the issue is that we’re unduly restricting what the Greens see as abortion. They’re quite clear about what they do and on’t.

        The issue is the one Road Scholar gives: they wouldn’t have top be making that argument (that their objection to contraception is based on an objection to abortion, and where contraception is not abortionl, they do not object to it) in order to be advancing a sincere objection to contraception. (Many) Catholics haave a sincere objection to contraception even when it’s not abortion, and they just as well could be advancing this challenge, with no real difference to the arguments, on the basis of that more general objection.

        It’s just ultimately not really germane to the legal arguments not merely whether the Greens are right in identifying the forms of contraception that they do as abortion that they do, but whether or not they even base their objection on that belief or not in the first place.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Michael,

        Agree about the Greens vs. the Catholics (which sounds like European political parties, doesn’t it). That’s why I said, “or one could be even looser…” But I understand if that wasn’t perfectly clear.

        Ultimately, there are 3 conversations. One is religious, one is secular/medical, and the third is about the law and which of those other two conversations should be reflected in it. And of course we can all have an opinion about how that third one should turn out.Report

  11. Avatar zic says:

    The Hyde Amendment limits federal funding of abortion to cases of rape or incest. In order to bring pro-life Dems (Bart Stupack) on board to get the law passed, Obama signed an executive order 13535.

    I would zoom out a bit and look at this case as part of an overall legal challenge by the pro-life movement. (It is, the Greens were asked to pursue it by the Beckett Fund, also behind several other challenges to women’s rights to their own body based on religious belief.)

    There are two things here that are bricks in the pavement toward the Beckett Fund’s goal, or so it seems to me. First, and probably the most important, would be defining life as beginning at contraception, and not implantation. That would be a major victory for Beckett.

    With that victory would come the second level of proscribing a host of contraceptive methods because they might (even though the science suggests this is rare) cause a failure for the fertilized egg to implant in the uterine wall. All of the contraception methods the Greens are challenging would then be off limits to women on Medicaid or receiving subsidies in the health insurance exchanges because of the Hyde amendment and exec. order 13535.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

      Correction: That’s Becket fund

      The ACLU also has a complete list of challenges to the contraception mandate. They are interested in these cases because they believe, as I do, that this is not an expression of personal belief, but employers shifting their personal beliefs onto others through the employer/employee relationship.Report

  12. Avatar scott the mediocre says:

    (I hope this isn’t too much of a tangent, but if it is, I trust that a mod will block it.) I have never heard any remotely satisfying answer from the anti-abortion crowd to the following challenge, which seems like high school level logic:

    Consider the Greens’ position that a contraceptive which prevents implantation (even as a secondary mechanism of action) constitutes a deontologically unacceptable thing because of the ontological status of the zygote/morula, Mike’s P1: then why is an implantation failure that is not caused by a contraceptive an accidental and at least potentially preventable death of a human, or if it is an accidental and at least potentially preventable death, why no detectable push for significant medical research toward reducing those numbers? (n.b. obviously for those who think abortions are only abortions post-implantation, the numbers change but the basic problem remains)

    The one time I brought it up (online) with a hardcore antiabortion activist (who BTW did not agree with the Greens about implantation-prevention constituting abortion), her answer was basically that she and her fellow activists had only so much energy and they didn’t want to diffuse it by taking on the other topic as well. I basically called BS, not on the woman herself, but the movement, on the grounds that out of all the effort spent on trying to restrict abortion, the low hanging fruit principles suggest that redirecting maybe a few percent of that effort into the medical research would at least quite possibly (I’d guess extremely likely, but since I have no specific knowledge in human embryology my guess is just a typical asspull) “save” vastly more zygotes than the marginal number of abortions prevented. I would consider a scientifically detailed argument as to why there actually isn’t any low hanging fruit to be a legitimate response, but I’ve never come across that argument, and I have looked for it.

    Has anyone heard an anti-abortion activist answer that, and if so, links or names that can be googled into links, pretty please? I know OT has posters and commenters who favor criminalization of abortion, though if they have ever expressed their takes on the nuances and edge cases I fear I have forgotten it (links, please?); if any would like to respond here, please do.
    Report

  13. Avatar DavidTC says:

    One thing I feel I should point out, late as I am to the party:

    While some forms of birth control (Although, interestingly, *not* the forms of birth control that people think.) can cause an egg to avoid implantation…

    …everyone who considers it has failed to notice that something like 50% of fertilized eggs either fail to implant by themselves, or implant but fail to trigger ‘pregnancy hormones’, and get discard the next cycle.

    So if a IUD has 95% chance of stopping ovulation, and a 10% *added* chance of causing the egg not to implant…uh, it just *reduced* the total amount of fertilized eggs that ‘died’. Hell, it would reduce the chances *even if it reduced implantation by 100%.

    Because without the IUD, let’s say there were 100 fertilized eggs, and 50% ‘died’. With it, there were 5 fertilized egg, and 60% or 100% or whatever died.

    All contraceptives reduce the amount fertilized eggs massively. They reduce it so much that you *mathematically* have a net loss in ‘number of discarded fertilized eggs’, no matter *what* happens to the few that slip through.Report

  14. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    Ulimately, here’s what bothers me most about this particular case: Imagine if you will, a sect of Christianity that held as doctrine that autism was a definitive marker of damnation, that all children with autism were irretrievably bound for hell, and that anything that caused autism was the work of the Devil. Suppose further that they held, as a matter of religious belief, that childhood vaccinations were a major cause of autism, despite the scientific studies finding no support for that belief.

    It’s not that they’re saying vaccinations, per se, are evil. That I would be willing to accept as a religious belief beyond the scope of rational disproof. Similarly for the belief that autistic persons are damned. Weird, but that’s religion for ya.

    But I can’t see it as anything other than a terrible precedent for the courts to accept, as a link in a logical chain of reasoning, a provably false empirical statement under the guise of religious belief.

    Believe clearly false claims if you must, but don’t expect the rest of us to respect that. It seriously makes me wonder if some people really don’t understand the difference between a belief founded on faith and a belief justified by reason and evidence.Report

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