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Critics: Trump’s religious exemption on birth control ignores science

A variety of birth control pills. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration’s new birth control rule is raising questions among some doctors and researchers, who say it overlooks known benefits of contraception while selectively citing data that raise doubts about effectiveness and safety.

“This rule is listing things that are not scientifically validated, and in some cases things that are wrong, to try to justify a decision that is not in the best interests of women and society,” said Dr. Hal Lawrence, CEO of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a professional society representing women’s health specialists.

Two recently issued rules — one addressing religious objections and the other, moral objections — allow more employers to opt out of covering birth control as a preventive benefit for women under the Obama health care law. Although the regulations ultimately address matters of individual conscience and religious teaching, they also dive into medical research and scholarly studies on birth control.

It’s on the science that researchers are questioning the Trump administration. They say officials ignored some recent research and stretched other studies.

“The interpretation is very selective in terms of the science that they use,” said Alina Salganicoff, director of women’s health policy at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “It’s always possible to find one study that validates your claim, but you have to look at the quality of the study and the totality of the research. You can make an argument that you don’t agree because of your religious or moral objections, but that is a different discussion.”

In a statement, Health and Human Services Department spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley responded to critics, saying: “The rules are focused on guaranteeing religious freedom and conscience protections for those Americans who have a religious or moral objection to providing certain services based on their sincerely held beliefs.”

The administration also says some parts of the rules are meant to illustrate the sorts of concerns that religious objectors may have, and don’t necessarily reflect government policy.

Here’s a look at examples from the Trump administration’s birth control rules that are raising questions:

The morning-after pill

Emergency contraception is birth control for use after unprotected sex, often called the “morning-after pill.”

Referring to the morning-after pill as well as intrauterine devices or IUDs, the regulations state that the Food and Drug Administration “includes in the category of ‘contraceptives’ certain drugs and devices that may not only prevent conception (fertilization), but also may prevent implantation of an embryo.”

Because of that, “many persons and organizations” believe emergency contraception methods cause “early abortion,” the regulations add.

But Princeton researcher James Trussell said that while studies years ago suggested the morning-after pill might affect the lining of a woman’s uterus and interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg, more recent studies have not found such an effect.

“The preponderance of the evidence, and certainly the most recent evidence, is that there is no post-fertilization effect,” said Trussell.

That’s not included in the administration’s rule.

“The actual medical evidence is that it blocks ovulation,” or the release of an egg from the ovaries, explained Lawrence, the OB-GYN. “If you don’t ovulate, there is no egg to get fertilized. It’s not blocking implantation.”

Effectiveness of birth control

The Trump administration’s rule takes issue with the science behind the Obama-era decision to require most employers to cover birth control as preventive care.

It suggests that some studies cited in a key 2011 report did not show a direct cause-and-effect link between increased birth control use by women and a decline in unintended pregnancy.

But Adam Sonfield of the Guttmacher Institute said solid research does in fact exist. The organization does studies on reproductive health that are cited by opposing sides in the political debate.

For example, Sonfield cited a Guttmacher report that found that women who used birth control consistently year-round accounted for only 5 percent of unintended pregnancies in 2008.

“The vast majority of women use birth control at some point in their lives,” said Sonfield. “As a medical service, it’s far more universal than almost anything covered by insurance.”

George Washington University public health professor Susan Wood, a former women’s health chief for the FDA, said there’s very clear clinical data that contraception prevents pregnancy. Why else would the FDA approve birth control pills?

“They are just using this as a smokescreen,” Wood said of the administration. “They are picking out things that they like, and leaving out (studies) that support access to contraception.”

The sexual revolution

The Trump administration’s rule suggests there may be a link between birth control and promiscuity.

It cites a study finding that between 1960 and 1990, “as contraceptive use increased, teen sexual activity outside of marriage likewise increased.” (The administration added a caveat that the study did not prove a cause-and-effect link.)

Lawrence, the OB-GYN, said he thinks that’s a stretch.

“There were a whole lot of other things going on in the ’60s,” he said, such as changing social mores about sex before marriage. Also, many people relied on condoms, diaphragms and spermicides.

“The world of birth control in 2018 is about as similar to the world of birth control in 1960 as a Ralph Nader Chevy Corvair is to a space shuttle,” he said.

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79 Comments

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  • The reason nosy employers with no sense of decency or respect for the privacy of their workers use religious appeals here is because the position is so impossible to defend on its merits in a rational sense. It takes the arbitrary ridiculousness of a religious appeal to work. How else can you blatantly ignore facts so easily?

    The family planning options of employees are not the concerns of employers. Hobby Lobby was gutted by changes in the law. The Little Sisters of the Poor lost their case.

    This order is just going to be another where the administration is getting sued for acting badly.

  • Religion ignores science whenever it is politically or religiously necessary. Why should this be different?

  • So you respond to us using nothing but hope and prayers. Not a piece of technology and global infrastructure for data transmission.

  • If the Evangelical Christian that are advising Trump and Pence had their way, women would have to go to the Evangelical Religious Police for permission for medical care. And they would demand to be in the examining room to oversee it.

    This is about the Evangelical Christians wanting to reign control over women, and deciding for them what they can and can’t do. Trump loves that idea – he’ll be able to continue grabbing women by their p*ssy with the support of Evangelical leaders.

  • Her book says it’s wrong.
    But I’m just not if she’s an endocrinologist or not. Then again, if you’re not like her in all the ways her book demands, you’re defective and must be made to change, or suffer the consequences as described in her book.

  • Hope and prayers means she can remain above and keep her distance from the unwashed hoi polloi.
    All words, no action.

  • Science says that a human being begins when the sperm and the egg unite. Its called a zygote. To destroy a zygote is to commit murder.

  • If you don’t want to have children, don’t copulate. That method is 100% effective, there are no drug side-effects, and it is FREE.

    If anyone has any evidence to the contrary — that is, if anyone can show that pregnancy results from something other than copulation (or artificial insemination), I ask to be informed. Otherwise, I don’t care to tolerate the howling of the canaille.

  • Is it suicide if the zygote fails to develop or implant? Destroying a zygote is not murder. Murder is the taking of a life, and although a zygote might be alive, perhaps even frozen, it certainly has no life. That requires a willing woman, capable of gestation, at least today.

  • just as science, ignores G-D here in the same physical story again for their own religious, deceitful, and political purpose. the scientists of the pharaoh, are nothing new with their religious, political, and mental magic.

    every time ELOHEEM and THEIR Son give this only physical story again. all of you, think you’re aliens on some other science friction planet.

  • what makes you, think ELOHEEM or THEIR Son is going to give wisdom to THEIR enemies who reject THEIR Wisdom?

    did you truly see what ELOHEEM did, to the pharaoh, his scientists, and egyptians that rejected THEIR Wisdom?

    or what G-D even Commanded to happen to the jews and christians that rejected, THEIR Wisdom?

    none of you, are paying attention to Scripture. or you would recognize it actually in The Physical Happening today.

    you! can’t even recognize yourselves here in it at this end of The Sixth Day again.

    this physical hereafter is only for Seven Days.from the last Seven Day hereafter to the next Seven Day hereafter.

    so do not tell me, that all seven billion of the current nobodies here in THEIR Story of The Physical Creation is not awkward and embarrassing.

    do you even truly know the name of ELOHEEM’S Only Begotten Son Who was put to death and always returned as THEIR Male Child adam and his sister? and always placed in charge for The Day of Rest as HaMosheeach.

    how many people even know that ad-am is two words? until/unto nations/population.

  • then you did not truly read it. sure i realize it is kind of butchered. but there still is some wisdom from G-D and THEIR Son in IT.

    did you even noticed what days, the story with THEIR Son to His return as THEIR son and daughter takes place? that covers the last three days here in TheTorah.

  • Your interpretation of the Hebrew word אדם is an interesting midrash but is not based on actual Hebrew spelling. The Hebrew word for ‘until’ is spelled with an ayin עד and the word for people or nation is spelled אם. Again, yours is an interesting spin but it is grammatically and linguistically wrong.

  • Jimmie SHORTBEARD Cooper Borges Silva Boswell, you are angering EWOAHEMAHEMWOOTWOOT by having such a puny beard. Remember, BEARDBUN is your goal and you aren’t even halfway to the floor yet.

    Now get that chin down and get those BEANS IN! No trip in the rapture capsule for you and your husband Windy Eddie if you can’t progress there.

  • If you don’t like other people using contraception or having abortions, tough luck!

    Its none of your business.

    Nobody is beholden to you for any decisions concerning how they engage in relations with each other. Its not your concern. Its not your problem. If you don’t want to engage in sexual relations for one reason or another, that is your business. If you think you are entitled to control how others do so, you are sadly mistaken.

  • Men should mind their business as to what women use as contraception. Nobody asked nor required their opinion on the subject.

  • Science says no such thing. Life began millions of years ago. And in any case, civil rights do not attach until birth.

  • Not true. If a woman murders a pregnant woman in some states she would be guilty of a double homicide. That means the unborn baby has rights and is considered a human being.

  • You clearly want to make it three. Two people engaging in relations and your special approval for how, when or if they do.

    Nobody requires your input on the matter.

    If you don’t like contraception, don’t use it. If you don’t like other people using it, tough luck. Its none of your business.

  • The concept of consent never enters the fundamentalist Christian mind.

    In your terrible analogy, the person murdered was intending to keep her pregnancy and an outside party, against her, will ended its and her life.

    Attacking a pregnant woman causing her to lose the pregnancy, but keeping her alive is considered entirely as an assault against the woman.

    A woman who does not want to keep her pregnancy is making a choice concerning her body. One she is entitled to. One you have no input on, nor ever should.

    Its telling your POV depends on treating women as your personal chattel property. Someone whose personal decisions and existence is somehow beholden to your opinion.

  • It contradictory and a shame what some states do. That pregnant woman who could be murdered would be a double homicide in some states and yet if she decides to kill her own baby via abortion that is ok. We both know that is murder.

  • No. We both don’t consider that murder.

    The concept of choosing to do something with your body as opposed to something done to you, completely eludes your train of thought.

    You also seem to be under the misapprehension that a woman’s body is your chattel property to do as you wish without any regard for her decisions. Which is why you have no moral background needed to distinguish between murder and making personal decisions.

  • Some states consider it murder and rightfully so. When a woman murder’s her baby in the womb that baby has its own body. Its an individual that she is killing.

  • Oh, I see. It’s an unjustifiable form of love. Got it. But you do understand why people like me think you’re demented, right? Of course, it’s the Devil, I almost forgot about her/him/it or whatever.

  • No, actually they don’t. Abortion is not considered murder in any state. Her body, her choice. Someone else doing the act, an attack upon her.

    Your dishonest premise ignores the fact that in the laws you cite, the primary victim of the murder is the mother. If only the fetus is killed, it is never considered murder. It is considered some form of assault. Still an attack on the mother.

    Your point of view is all about considering the woman to be of no consequence or consideration as a human being.

    Plus just to add, its not like you have any concern for those born anyway. So it is not like you have concern for life in general. You just extol gestation. Worshiping the fetus above all else.

  • Murdering a pregnant woman in some states is considered a double homicide which means the baby in her is considered a human being. Yet that same woman can go to an abortion clinic and kill her baby and that is not murder. In this case, just as when another person murders her and her baby she is not considered a murderer when she does it to her own baby.

  • “Murdering a pregnant woman in some states is considered a double homicide which means the baby in her is considered a human being.”

    Not really. It is still considered a crime against the mother and her person.

    She doesn’t murder her baby in an abortion. You do not understand the concept of consent. Of people making decisions for what goes on in their bodies. OF course you have no concept of respect for the lives of the born. So there is no need to pretend you are concerned with the unborn as well.

  • The government has absolutely no business in your body. You are sovereign over it and answer to God for what you do or don’t do with it or to. The government crossed the line many years ago and needs to be put back in its place.

  • Exactly –

    Even some researchers in homosexuality (themselves Gay or Lesbian) have concluded that “people are not born that way”.

    PFLAG pushes transsexualism on people who think they may be gay or lesbian.

    Freud was unaware that his daughter Anna was a lesbian.

    Freud thought incest people were claiming was in their imagination.

    Freud’s theory of id, ego, and superego was wrong.

    Freud was slow to recognize the Nazi threat.

    Marx was wrong as demonstrated by the horrors visited where his theories were tried.

  • “Nobody requires your input on the matter.”

    One must have a high opinion of oneself, to pontificate such a broad knowledge of human thought.

  • It helps when one is correct and you clearly are not. 🙂

    You must have a higher opinion of yourself to presume to have any say in how two consenting adults engage in relation. Again nobody was asking for your input and nobody requires it.

    If you don’t like contraception, don’t use it. If you don’t like others using it, just pout in as corner, because nobody has to care.

  • I’m a regular customer in a women’s consultation! The drug Alesse was advised to me by the doctor after an unsuccessful wearing of a spiral. He recommended them to me as a contraceptive and as a restorative. PRICHOM said that on Alesse, no woman has become pregnant. If it is correctly accepted, then there will be no problems. I buy tablets in a drugstore http://norxtabs.com/buy-generic-alesse-ovral-l-online.php

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