The big argument in this case is that the morning after pill is believed to cause abortions, and as a company founded on Christian principles, the owners of Hobby Lobby are morally opposed to abortion and feel that it's wrong for the government to force them to pay for it.
Up until this week I was very much in support of Hobby Lobby and their stand for unborn babies. Who doesn't appreciate a company standing up for what's morally right?!?! Then I found a small detail tucked away at the bottom of this news article. Hobby Lobby already provides birth control in their employee health plans.
Why is this a problem? Let me explain.
How the Morning After Pill Works
There are a few different types of morning after pills, but they all primary work the same way. If taken 3-5 days after having unprotected sex they are about 89% effective. (Please note, the morning after pill is not the same thing as RU-486 which can be used to terminate a pregnancy up to 9 weeks along.)
The morning after pill works primarily by preventing ovulation. The hormone (levonorgestrel) keeps a women's body from releasing an egg. No egg=no baby. The hormones can also make it more difficult for the sperm to reach an egg after a woman has ovulated. No sperm=no baby. Neither of these methods is consider to be abortive because in both cases there is no conception.
However, it's speculated that the morning after pill can also disrupt the lining of a women's uterus making it difficult for a fertilized egg (a conceived human baby) to implant and grow. If the baby does not latch on to the uterine wall, it will die.
Herein lies the problem. Many Christians, including myself and the owners of Hobby Lobby, believe that life starts at conception. Thus intentionally doing anything to prevent that life from thriving is considered abortion.
This brings me to my objection in the Hobby Lobby case. Hobby Lobby already provides hormonal birth control as part of their health insurance plans, and hormonal birth control pills work exactly same way.
How the Birth Control Pill Works
Most birth control pills are basically just smaller doses of the hormones found in the morning after pill, and these progesterone mimicking chemicals also work in very similar ways:
1. Preventing ovulation
2. Thickening cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg
3. Making the uterine lining inhospitable for a baby
Thus if we argue that the morning after pill causes abortions, we must recognize that hormonal birth control pills do too.
Birth control pills work primarily by preventing ovulation; however, break through ovulation is quite common among pill users meaning that pregnancy is still possible. While the thickened cervical mucus does make it more difficult for sperm to reach the egg, fertilization can and does happen!
And when it does, we have a baby. A completely new, individual, human being. At the moment of conception a baby has all the DNA information they will ever need. Eye color, hair color, height, and personality are predetermined in that moment. In normal pregnancies the new life will attach itself to the lining of the uterus where it will receive the necessary nourishment from it's mother to continue to grow and thrive.
One of the ways the pills works is by preventing that baby from implanting in the uterine wall and receiving the nutrients and oxygen that it needs. The baby dies and passes out of the mother at her next monthly cycle. She probably won't even know it happened.
It's very difficult for scientist to measure exactly how often this occurs in pill users, but they do know that it is a very real possibility and statistically probable. Just consider this:
The Pill is used by about fourteen million American women each year and sixty million women internationally. Thus, even an infinitesimally low portion (say one-hundredth of one percent) of 780 million Pill cycles per year globally could represent tens of thousands of unborn children lost to this form of chemical abortion annually. (Alcorn 2010)Want to know where I got my info?
For a short version of how birth control works. For a more detailed overview from Randy Alcorn. Info on morning after pill. Info about Hobby Lobby here and here.
Where Do We Go From Here?
When I first found out about how the pill works, I didn't believe it. I has always heard that birth control was safe. I'd been told specifically by doctors that birth control didn't cause abortions. And truthfully, I didn't want to believe it. My husband and I used birth control for the first year of our marriage, and the thought that we might have unintentionally aborted a baby just seemed unreal to me.
Plus, birth control is easy, convenient, and popular. It just couldn't be true.
So I decided to do some more research, but every path I went down brought me to the same truth: birth control pills have the potential to do more harm than good.
One of the greatest resources I came across was Randy Alcorn's book "Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?". I was shocked to realize that all these years I'd been misled by simple semantics.
You see pill manufactures, doctors, and abortion advocates will agree that the pill works the way that it does. They recognize that the pill does have the potential to keep a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus and receiving the necessary nutrients for sustained life. However, they assert (very adamantly) that this is not abortion because they do not believe that life starts at conception.
I realized that the issue here isn't really one of good science or this study vs. that study, but rather it's a question of when life starts.
And as Christians we don't have to look to science for the answer to that question because the Author of Life has already answered it for us.
Look at Psalm 139:13-16, Jeremiah 1:4-5, and Psalm 51:5 to see God's care for the unborn, and check out this very detailed article from Answers in Genesis about how these fit into the argument that life begins at conception.
Given this information, my husband and I made the decision to stop using hormonal birth control for good. As we researched and prayed over this decision, God opened our eyes and changed our hearts. We realized that we'd been trusting in the world to shape our definition of family and fertility, and the world had led us astray. Instead, we turned to the Word of God and asked ourselves, "What does God say about children and family?" It changed the way we feel, the way we think, and the way we live.
I don't tell you this to try and convince you to stop taking the pill.
I tell you all of this because I believe that every woman has a right to know, and every Christian has a duty to pray and seek the Lord's guidance.
I also believe that consistency is important, and this is where I believe Hobby Lobby has missed the boat. If we choose to take a stand against emergency contraception like the morning after pill, we must recognize that birth control pills fall into the same category. So often as Christians we are eager to stand against abortion without fully considering in what ways we ourselves have been led astray by abortion advocates and the family planning community.
I recognize that many of these issues are technical arguments that are easy to misunderstand and much easier to just ignore. I also recognize that you could walk the same path I have and arrive at a different place with a different opinion and a different decision. I respect that.
God is the one who guides and directs our steps. We just have to agree to set aside our own ideas and agendas to follow him. If he leads you to a different place than me, who am I to judge?
My job is simply to share what I know in love.
Please feel free to comment, ask questions, share your thoughts, and even disagree, but please do so in wisdom and kindness. If you want to speak more privately about this topic or anything else the Lord has laid on your heart, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.