Hobby Lobby Gobbledygook -- On Both Sides

Dianne N. Irving
July 15, 2014
copyright July 15, 2014
Reproduced with Permission

"So people will continue to be divided on whether these drugs are abortifacients or not, based on their own perceptions of the reproductive process." (emphases added) [Julie Beck, "What's So Controversial About the Contraceptives in Hobby Lobby" (June 30, 2014), The Atlantic , at: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/whats-so-controversial-about-the-contraceptives-in-the-hobby-lobby-case/373709/ ]

In considering the Hobby Lobby case, the "religious beliefs" of the plaintiffs just happen to match the long-documented and long-acknowledged objective scientific facts of human embryology. It is not that the plaintiffs are forcing their religious beliefs or subjective opinions on the rest of us, or simply arguing on the basis of their own "perceptions". Their religious beliefs actually coincide with those objective scientific truths, and thus their position is both accurate and true. Indeed, it is the defendants and their pundits who refuse to acknowledge those objective scientific facts (because they have to) and are continuing to try to force their misguided subjective "beliefs" or "political ideologies" on the rest of us, while attempting to claim that "no one really knows", or "there are lots of opinions", etc. Sorry. We know. And it is not an opinion or subjective "perception". Nor are the objective facts of science to be decided by "consensus" of citizens or of politicians -- or even by the Supreme Court -- but by those who have the academic credentials, Ph.D's and practical experience, in their respective scientific fields (a point well-taken in both the Nuremburg Code and the Declaration of Helsinki ).

The "contraceptives" that the Supreme Court identified as "abortifacient" in the Hobby Lobby case are in fact abortifacient -- not because of any religious beliefs of the plaintiffs. In fact, of the other 16 so-called "contraceptives" not touched by this decision, many of those are also probably abortifacient -- and women especially have the right to know these objective scientific facts. Even many "pro-choice" women would not use such "contraceptives" if they knew that they could also, in fact, be abortifacient. Contraception is one thing; abortion is quite another.

But it would seem that there's enough gobbledygook to go around. It doesn't emanate from just the "pro-choice" side in these debates. Even though most "pro-life" pundits are arguing on solid ground and with good intentions, they often fall into the trap of using the same fake science perpetrated for so long (successfully) by the other side -- obviously shooting themselves in the foot in the process. (The otherwise excellent rebuttals by Megan Kelly of FOX NEWS come to mind when she continuously employs the pro-choice fake scientific terms such as "fertilized eggs" that "implant in the woman's uterus"!). No "eggs" ever implant in any uterus! And if such "pro-lifers" knew several other rather fascinating objective scientific facts about the early human embryo they'd have even more ammunition to use than they do now!

To that end, I am simply going to use a recent article about the Hobby Lobby case (copied at the end) that rather embodies the sort of purposeful "confusion", "doubt",, and gobbledygook that continues to permeate the air waves and other media on both sides. Aside from any "legal" politics involved, there is no "doubt" or "confusion" about the objective scientific facts involved which have been known and documented globally for over 125 years. I'll just list the points here, and bold in "red" the relevant statements in the article copied at the end. At least both sides would be able to proselytize with the accurate scientific facts -- rather than "on their own (mistaken) perceptions". Extensive, lengthy, even excessive scientific references from the real scientific experts in human embryology from around the world are available in some of my articles listed at the end. Hopefully both sides -- including even "prolife" -- will finally admit them:

IN SUM: Considering human beings who are reproduced sexually during normal human sexual reproduction, these human beings begin to exist at the beginning of the process of fertilization in the woman's fallopian tube when the sperm makes first contact with the "egg", resulting in a single-cell human organism/human being. This single cell human being begins to grow and develop as it travels through the woman's fallopian tube towards the uterus where it will try to implant at about 5-7 days when it has reached the "blastocyst" stage of development, consisting often of 200+ cells. At least three mechanisms built into many chemical "contraceptives" can prevent the early human embryo from implanting : (1) the lining of the uterus can be damaged so that even a healthy blastocyst cannot implant -- and so it dies; (2) the embryo is slowed down while traveling through the fallopian tube so that it is over-developed by the time it reaches the uterus and cannot implant (even if the lining of the uterus is fine) -- and so it dies; (3) the embryo is speeded up while traveling through the fallopian tube so that it is under-developed by the time it reaches the uterus and cannot implant (even if the lining of the uterus is fine) -- and so it dies. GIVEN that the four "contraceptives" identified by the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case are in fact, objectively, accurately defined as abortifacients, what could be more "controversial" is how many of the other 16 "contraceptives" not identified by the Supreme Court are also abortifacient.

[ Note: The definition of "pregnancy" as "beginning at implantation" referred to by the Supreme Court in its Hobby Lobby decision is from the 45 CFR 46.202 federal regulations (URL in the article below: http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/45/46.202 ), which in turn was legally derived from the 1981 OPRR federal regulations on the use of human subjects in research (mandated by the 1974 National Research Act , which also mandated the formal "birth" of bioethics) -- now referred to as the OHRP federal regulations. It was Richard Doerflinger of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) who proudly and admittedly inserted two false scientific definitions in those 1981 OPRR federal regulations on which the OHRP and the CFR federal regulations are based: "fetus" was falsely defined as "beginning at implantation" (absolutely absurd; the "fetal" period doesn't begin until 9 weeks post-fertilization; no definition of "embryo" throughout the first 8 weeks at all); and "pregnancy" was also falsely defined as 'beginning at implantation".]

For extensive scientific references, see Irving:


The Atlantic
June 30, 2014

What's So Controversial About the Contraceptives in Hobby Lobby

Surprise: The Supreme Court hasn't defined "conception" in a new ruling on religious freedom


Today in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., the Supreme Court decided 5-4 that "closely held" for-profit corporations have a right to religiously object to government regulations, in this case the so-called "contraceptive mandate" of the Affordable Care Act, which requires businesses over a certain size to cover FDA-approved contraceptives in their employee insurance plans.

The Court was careful to limit the healthcare implications to contraception, writing: "This decision… should not be understood to hold that all insurance-coverage mandates, e.g. for vaccinations or blood transfusions must necessarily fall if they conflict with an employer's religious beliefs ."

As the Court repeatedly states in the decision, the plaintiffs believe that "life begins at conception." But what does that actually mean? For those who believe that life begins at conception, the question then becomes this: What specific point in the reproductive process counts as "conception?"

This case centers around specific religious objections to contraceptives that prevent an egg from implanting in a woman's uterus , which plaintiffs believe are tantamount to abortion . Out of the 20 Food and Drug Adminstration-approved birth control methods , the two companies involved in the case- Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood-object to four : two kinds of emergency contraceptive or "morning after" pills, and two types of intrauterine devices, or IUDs.

The morning-after pills work in a couple of ways. They may just prevent ovulation so the egg is never released from the ovary, they may prevent fertilization of the egg, or they may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus . It's that last one that's the problem. IUDs are a little more confusing-as my colleague Olga Khazan wrote , though they typically prevent the sperm from reaching the egg, they can also be used as emergency contraception, if they're implanted up to five days after unprotected sex.

The plaintiffs in Hobby Lobby define conception as the point when the sperm and egg come together to make a zygote, which is why they object to these birth control methods- they can interfere after an egg has already been fertilized. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, on the other hand, defines conception as the moment when a fertilized egg implants in the uterus. The Supreme Court noted in its decision that federal regulations also define conception this way-"pregnancy encompasses the period of time from implantation to delivery," one reads . [ http://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/45/46.202 ]

But not everyone agrees on this definition , and the court did not weigh in on the timing of conception or what kinds of birth control may or may not be abortifacients. "It is not for the Court to say that the religious beliefs of the plaintiffs are mistaken or unreasonable," the decision reads.

Even among members of the same faith, opinions differ . For example, Catholic priest Richard Sparks told The Atlantic that "the Catholic position is that from the moment of conception - the moment his DNA combines with her DNA - you can argue that you have a unique individual," but also mentioned that some Catholic theologians come down on the side of implantation . None of the plaintiffs in Hobby Lobby are Catholic, but other groups who have filed suits are, including Notre Dame University and an order of nuns called the Little Sisters of the Poor .

While the Court has clarified these businesses' right to religiously object, it doesn't offer an opinion on a standard definition of conception. So people will continue to be divided on whether these drugs are abortifacients or not, based on their own perceptions of the reproductive process.