Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Friday repeated the misguided conservative talking point that the birth control coverage rule included in Obamacare forces employers to cover abortion-inducing pills.
Cruz told the crowd at the 2013 Values Voter Summit that the Obama administration is forcing Christian-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby to provide "abortifacients" or pay millions of dollars in fees. Hobby Lobby is one of several religious-owned businesses currently suing the administration over its requirement that most employers include contraception coverage in their health insurance plans.
The Affordable Care Act requires most employers to cover birth control, including emergency contraception -- also known as the morning-after pill or Plan B -- in their health insurance plans. But employers are not required to cover RU-486, an abortion-inducing medication that is sometimes confused with emergency contraception.
Many conservatives, including former presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, have claimed that emergency contraception causes abortions by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting into the uterus. They argue that a fertilized egg is essentially a person, the same logic that is used to lobby for fetal personhood laws.
But scientists and medical experts have debunked the claim that the morning-after pill causes abortions. The New York Times wrote in June 2012 that "the politically charged debate over morning-after pills and abortion...is probably rooted in outdated or incorrect scientific guesses about how the pills work."
Emergency contraception works before pregnancy begins by delaying or inhibiting ovulation or thickening cervical mucus so sperm have trouble swimming.
Appeals courts have handed down conflicting decisions as to whether for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby should be able to refuse to cover birth control in their health plans, and the Supreme Court is currently deciding whether to take on the case next year.