Advocates of religious freedom were outraged on January 20, when the Obama administration announced it would enforce its new mandate for contraception and sterilization coverage in private health-insurance plans without a meaningful conscience exemption. Even most religious organizations can’t qualify for the rule’s incredibly narrow “religious employer” exception, which will remain unchanged. NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood have said pro-life organizations are wrong to oppose such mandates: After all, they argue, increasing access to contraception (especially “emergency contraception” or “EC”) will reduce abortion, and don’t we all want that?
This argument conveniently ignores studies showing that such access simply doesn’t reduce abortion rates. For example, out of 23 studies on the effects of increased access to ECs, not one study could show a reduction in unintended pregnancies or abortions. It also ignores the fact that at least one EC drug covered by the mandate, “Ella,” is a close analogue to the abortion pill RU-486; both drugs can induce abortion weeks into pregnancy.
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