THE BLOG

Can Scientific Illiteracy Be Protected as Religious Freedom?

02/05/2013 04:52 pm ET | Updated Apr 07, 2013

We teach teenagers sex ed so they can make healthy choices and, we pray, not get pregnant. But when you consider the opposition to the contraceptive insurance mandate in Obamacare, maybe we need to start giving sex ed to politicians and some employers, too.

Barack Obama's policy is that health insurance plans should have to cover female contraceptives at no charge as they do any other preventative medicine. This is already law in 28 states, but Obama's policy raised religious hackles, and lawsuits ensued. The Obama administration recently offered faith-based nonprofits a way out of paying for contraceptives for religious reasons without denying their female employees the ability to make their own choices.

"The proposed regulations released today make clear that women will have access to birth control at no cost, no matter where they work," wrote Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America

The new category of "religious employers" covers churches and faith-based nonprofits with religious missions, but it does not cover private business owned by religious people, some of whom are still squawking that they don't want to comply with the law. I respect anyone's right to worship as they please, but it's hard to give much credence to their objections when they say they don't want to pay for drugs that cause abortion. Because if you were paying attention in ninth grade health class, you know birth control doesn't cause abortions. It prevents them.

Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, described the contraception mandate as "a measure that's been put in place by the Obama administration to force private entities and businesses to provide abortion-producing drugs. And so you've essentially put religious people in a position of violating their conscience, forcing them essentially to be involved in the abortion industry."

It's factually wrong to equate hormonal birth control with abortion. This is how pregnancy works: The sperm takes the egg out to Bennigan's and fertilizes it, whereupon the egg heads back to her place at the uterus to implant. This officially kicks off a long process where the other eggs get jealous but throw her a shower anyway before one day you're broke and some kid eats all your food and doesn't clean his room. But here's the key: If you prevent the implantation in the uterus, you've prevented a pregnancy. And you can't terminate a pregnancy that doesn't exist. That's what they were getting at when they named it "contraception." Thinking that contraception causes abortion requires you both to misunderstand the word as well as the process.

When challenged that contraception would prevent unwanted pregnancies and therefore reduce the number of abortions (as a new study of St. Louis teens showed), Saenz said, "If you go to Plan B, if you go to their websites, the people that produce these emergency contraceptives, they will tell you very clearly that it has the impact of this happening and causing an abortion."

Actually, on the website for Plan B One-Step, it says -- very clearly -- "Plan B One-Step® is not effective in terminating an existing pregnancy." The National Institute for Health agrees that Plan B emergency contraception works "in the same way as regular birth control pills." For the record, Saenz is not a doctor. He's a lawyer.

The Hobby Lobby, the big-box craft stores that sell sequins, glue guns and dowels, is suing the Obama administration because they don't want to "offer coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in the insurance plan," says their lawyer. They already lost a preliminary hearing before Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and if the Hobby Lobby doesn't comply, then the federal government will fine them $1.3 million a day -- all because they don't want to pay to terminate pregnancies that the pills would prevent. These people are literally making a federal case out of their scientific illiteracy.

A Texas Republican has sponsored a bill to give the Hobby Lobby, a privately held, for-profit Oklahoma corporation, a sales tax break to offset the fine, meaning Texas taxpayers would have to subsidize the willful ignorance of a few wealthy Oklahomans.

This fight is not, as Saenz claimed, "part of a bigger issue of the Obama administration declaring war on religious liberty." This fight is about people who lost the sexual revolution and the last election trying to use religion to bully women by taking away their right to make their own health care decisions. That, and whom they want to go to Bennigan's with.