Sandra Fluke’s lamentation over “a wave of anti-contraception state legislation” makes it sound as if Arizona and other states are banning birth control. That is demonstrably not the case. A student at a prestigious law school, who presumably is familiar with the legislation she writes about, Ms. Fluke should understand that her rhetoric amounts to a politically motivated scare tactic.
This inaccurate framing of the issue is just the beginning of a series of inexcusable flaws in Ms. Fluke’s article. She declares that, on the anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, “It is hard to believe that we are having this conversation” about permitting exemptions for those with religious objections to state-mandated contraceptive coverage.
However, the argument Ms. Fluke wants to advance runs counter to Griswold and subsequent Supreme Court cases touching on “contraception.” No matter what one’s opinion of the merits of the decisions, it is clear that these cases cannot legitimately be read to give any patient or the government the authority to violate the fundamental freedom of conscience by forcing private institutions to pay for health insurance covering “contraception” against religious, moral, or ethical objections. Rather, an administrative rule mandating that everyone participate in, by paying for, the contraceptive choices of others actually turns on its head a key Supreme Court principle: the freedom from government intrusion on matters of contraception. By contrast, according to Ms. Fluke, et al., the so-called “right to privacy” now demands coerced public participation.
Ms. Fluke, of course, never once mentions the life-ending capacity of certain FDA-labeled “contraceptives.” The debate over so-called “contraceptive” mandates is not simply about drugs and devices that “prevent pregnancy” as she states. A clear example of a life-ending drug masquerading as “contraception” (that Ms. Fluke and others routinely refuse to address) is Ulipristal Acetate, or ella. A selective progesterone receptor modulator (SPRM), ella works the same way as the FDA-approved abortion drug, RU-486: It blocks progesterone, a hormone necessary to maintain a pregnancy.
Without diminishing the legitimate and serious objections to the deceptive approval of other life-ending drugs and devices, it must be acknowledged that by approving ella as “contraception,” the FDA has obliterated the line between “contraception” and abortion. No longer is the FDA hiding behind a changed definition of pregnancy; the FDA-approved “contraceptive” ella can work by ending an “established” pregnancy.
The merits of the policy goal to increase “access” to contraception, and the flawed arguments that Ms. Fluke relies on to support government-mandated “contraceptive” coverage to advance it, could certainly be the subjects of other articles. However, it is not necessary to engage on these points when discussing legislation aimed at protecting conscience rights.
While religious liberty and freedom of conscience are enshrined in the First Amendment, there is no competing constitutional right to subsidized contraception; it is merely a policy preference. Even the ACLU’s “Reproductive Freedom Project” dedicated to promoting abortion and “contraception” acknowledges that “access” to contraception is not a constitutional right. As many articles have addressed in the wake of the HHS mandate, there are substantially less intrusive means to advance that goal. There is simply no need to violate constitutional principles and coerce those with religious, ethical, or moral objections to pay for and facilitate contraceptive coverage.
Ms. Fluke’s contraception-trumps-conscience arguments are not only legal losers, but losers in the eyes of the public. This is true even among women, for whom Ms. Fluke is supposedly an “advocate.” For example, a poll conducting by the New York Times and CBS News in March found that a majority of women believed that an exemption should be permitted for “religiously affiliated employers, such as a hospital or university.”
Women, it would seem, are still believers in the “we can do it” mantra of Rosie the Riveter, and do not believe, as Ms. Fluke intimates, that without government coercion of conscience we are somehow at a loss as to how to access ubiquitously available “birth control.”
Ms. Fluke found it “hard to know where to begin” her article, but it is fairly easy to know where to both begin and end an analysis of what she wrote. Ms. Fluke does a grave disservice to women by authoring a misleading, inaccurate piece of propaganda under the guise of being a woman’s “advocate.”
— Anna Franzonello is Staff Counsel for Americans United for Life.