The Strange Bedfellows of the Anti-Contraception Alliance
On March 25, lawyers representing the owners of a large purveyor of craft supplies and a much smaller cabinetry business will appear before the Supreme Court in what has become the cornerstone case for opponents of the Affordable Care Act’s “contraception mandate.” Under the mandate, all employers-with the exception of religious organizations like churches-must include free birth control under their insurance plans. Catholic schools, hospitals, and social service agencies immediately raised a ruckus. Dozens of Catholic nonprofits filed lawsuits against the government, arguing that because their tradition forbids them from using birth control, paying for it-even indirectly through insurance-would violate their religious liberty.
The cases that will appear before the highest court deal with a different question: whether the owners of corporations can claim religious liberty exemptions. But there’s a stranger and less remarked-upon twist. The owners of both companies aren’t Catholic at all; one is Mennonite, and the other is evangelical. While Catholic doctrine teaches that birth control undermines God by allowing couples to separate reproduction from sex, Protestants-whether they’re Presbyterian, Episcopalian, or Southern Baptist-have no such theological objection.
Strictly speaking, the Protestant entrepreneurs involved in the upcoming case aren’t trying to get an exemption for all 16 forms of contraception covered under the ACA. They claim-backed up by a growing multitude of pro-life activists-that Plan B and the IUD cause abortion by preventing a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. Every year, more scientific evidence piles up to support the opposite conclusion: that contraceptives only work before the egg has been fertilized, not after.