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LETTER: Hobby Lobby’s logic flawed on birth control

To the Editor:

Much has been made of the Supreme Court decision to allow the Hobby Lobby corporation to refuse to include contraceptive services in the employee health insurance coverage they provide. Personally, I believe this was an unfortunate and misguided decision from the court. At the same time, I understand the Hobby Lobby owners’ frustration about being pushed to provide services which they themselves are opposed to.

I recognize their concern but I believe their logic is seriously flawed. Reportedly, they oppose any intervention which might increase the risk of abortion. They include in this category IUDs and emergency contraception, even though the vast majority of medical experts in this field believe that these methods work by preventing fertilization rather than damaging the ovum after fertilization occurs.

Regardless of who is right on that argument, the more basic reality is that withholding contraception results in unintended pregnancies and a substantial portion of unintended pregnancies end in abortion. A Colorado program provided free contraception to teens and produced a drop in the teen pregnancy of 40 percent and a drop in abortions of 35 percent. A similar program for low-income women in St. Louis resulted in abortion rates of 4.4 to 7.5 per 1,000 for those women compared to 13.4 to 17 per 1,000 in the comparison population.

The unfortunate irony of the Hobby Lobby policy is that by setting up barriers to the provision of contraception, it very likely will increase rather than decrease the number of abortions that occur. Just the opposite of what they say they want.

Much the same can be said with regard to those who demonize Planned Parenthood. The vast majority of Planned Parenthood resources go to prevent unwanted pregnancy, and only 3 to 5 percent of their budget goes for abortion services. Eliminating such funding will predictably result in an increase in unintended pregnancy and secondarily abortion. These are complicated issues.