The Corner

Re: The Times’s Convolution of Facts on Abortifacients

I’m a lawyer, not a doctor, so I’ll leave it to Dr. Harrison to explain why the Times article today on “morning after” drugs is wrong on the science, as she does here.

As to the litigation about the HHS mandate, the article confirmed a very important point of agreement — that, despite any disagreements about the mechanism of action of particular drugs, the mandate does force employers to provide drugs and devices that cause early abortions. In that regard, the most telling paragraph in the story is this one (emphasis added):

By contrast, scientists say, research suggests that the only other officially approved form of emergency contraception, the copper intrauterine device (also a daily birth control method), can work to prevent pregnancy after an egg has been fertilized.

Thus even if the Times is 100 percent right about the effect of Plan B and Ella (which is clearly not the case for the reasons Dr. Harrison explains), the very same article admits that intrauterine devices (IUDs) act after fertilization. IUDs, of course, are among the “all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods” which must be provided, for free, under the mandate. That admission from the Times is perfectly consistent with the administration’s public position that the mandate includes drugs that work by stopping implantation of an already-fertilized egg. As Secretary Sebelius has publicly admitted when promoting the mandate (emphasis added):

The Food and Drug Administration has a category [of drugs] that prevent fertilization and implantation.  That’s really the scientific definition.  So its unfortunate that there are some folks who continue to debate the science around fertility and what drugs do and do not do.  These covered prescription drugs are specifically those that are designed to prevent implantation.

Notably, Secretary Sebelius made this statement when issuing the mandate in August 2011, which is after the “new” research recycled in today’s Times (the latest evidence seems to be from 2010).

So now, amidst all of the debate over the mandate, the Times and Secretary Sebelius offer us the one fact that apparently everyone can agree on: The mandate requires employers to provide free access to drugs and devices that work “after an egg has been fertilized.”

To millions of people, that’s called an abortion.

Mark Rienzi is President of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He is also a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and a professor of law at the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.

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