National Journal: Loss in HHS contraception mandate case would “restrict access” for women

posted at 12:41 pm on March 13, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Behold, the layers of editors and fact checkers. With oral arguments scheduled at the Supreme Court in less than two weeks in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases, National Journal’s Sophie Novack and Clara Ritger offer up a primer titled “Everything You Wanted To Know About The Contraception Mandate (But Were Afraid To Ask),” as a way to educate readers on the stakes of the case. Most of this recounting of the legal fight is fairly straightforward — until readers get to the description of what happens if the plaintiffs prevail:

Implications: A win for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would limit women’s access to contraception, essentially allowing any business owner to refuse to provide birth-control coverage on the grounds of religious freedom.

That, in a polite word, is absolute nonsense. Nothing in this case “limits access to contraception.” The issue at hand is whether businesses owned by people who have religious objections to contraception should be forced to provide it for free to their employees, not bar them from purchasing it on their own. Employees (contra NJ, it’s not limited to women) who draw salaries have full latitude to use their income to buy their own contraception and sterilization services.

The problem for the government in this case is that the RFRA — passed under Bill Clinton, by the way — requires the government to prove that there is a compelling government interest in forcing business owners to go against their religious beliefs. In the hypothetical of the small-town pharmacist who refuses to dispense such supplies to a population unable to access it any other way, that might qualify as both compelling and a state interest. Unfortunately for the government, that’s simply not the case here; there is no compelling state interest in forcing employers and schools to provide contraception and sterilization for free, when contraception and sterilization services are widely and easily obtained in the US. The government has other options for this interest, including the current Title X program that distributes contraception to low-income Americans, which has been in place since the early 1970s to little objection.

I’ve linked this many times, but the government’s own CDC study shows that women have had no issues accessing contraception now or over the last 30 years.  That long-range study found 99% of all sexually-active women wishing to avoid pregnancy had accessed contraception, which is about as universal as it gets. This decision will not have any impact on the status quo, or narrow those choices in any way.

Now, some may want employers to expand compensation to give them free stuff, and some employers may see value in offering this to their employees. There isn’t anything preventing them from doing so now.  For those who say that women can’t figure out how to budget to buy contraception and need employers and schools to give it to them for free, I’d suggest taking the advice of the man behind the contraception mandate. Just replace “health care” with “contraception” — which Obama argues are synonymous anyway — and breathe deep the hypocrisy:

The President responded that “if you looked at their cable bill, their telephone, their cell phone bill… it may turn out that, it’s just they haven’t prioritized health care.” He added that if a family member gets sick, the father “will wish he had paid that $300 a month.”

There’s your fact check.

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air



Trackback URL


I think that’s loosely referred to as a FuManChu. Ed looked okay in the handlebar. I took it down though. He responded in the affirmative about the site being fixed. Passed right over the mustache entry. No reason to press my luck. I actually thought he’d get a kick out of it. I’ve been wrong plenty in the past. So….there is that. ; )

Bmore on March 13, 2014 at 7:03 PM

Camille Paglia

Bmore on March 13, 2014 at 7:28 PM

Did I mention Time sucks for that misleading link.


Bmore on March 13, 2014 at 7:30 PM

Ed always cites to the exact same thing and never cares to look at other studies that might challenge his view.

This study, for example, found:

•Nearly one out of four women report having put off
a gynecological or birth control visit to save money in
the past year. Such forgone care was more common
among those who are financially worse off than
among others (30% vs. 19%, p=.06). Women who
lost their health insurance during the past year are
more likely to report delaying a visit than are those
who did not.

• Eight percent of women report that they sometimes
did not use birth control in order to save money.* This
cost-cutting behavior is more common among those
who are financially worse off than among others (12%
vs. 4%).

• Among women using the pill, 18% report inconsistent
use as a means of saving money. Pill users said they
skipped pills (4%), delayed getting a prescription filled
(12%), went off the pill for at least a month (11%)
and obtained fewer pill packs at one time (8%). Such
inconsistent use is more common among women
who are struggling financially than among others (25%
vs. 6%)
Perhaps Ed should expand his horizons a bit before claiming to be a definitive fact checker.”

So, I’m a woman who wants caviar. Studies show I might put off buying that caviar until I can afford it. I might decide to have hamburger instead if I want something right now, because that’s what I can afford.

You seem to be saying that because I want caviar (vaginal sex/birth control pills) and I don’t want to settle for hamburger (condoms/sex of a kind that doesn’t result in pregnancy) or wait until I can afford caviar, someone else should have to pay for my caviar.

I think that’s ridiculous.

I would counter that people should be asked to be responsible for their actions and practice self control when they can’t pay for doing what they want to do.

Annielou on March 13, 2014 at 8:31 PM

Second, I don’t see a connection between being pro-abortion and being biased in a study of whether women can afford birth control. Perhaps you think that birth control is a form of abortion?

themuppet on March 13, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Perhaps you think abortion is a form of birth control.

Fenris on March 13, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Game, Set and Match.

itsspideyman on March 13, 2014 at 9:41 PM

Women have marched to demand the government and others ‘get out of their womb’ – that it is THEIR body and THEIR choice…until now when Democrats have convinced women that it is every one else’s business / responsibility to go back into their bedrooms, into their sex lives, and provide FREE contraceptives for THEIR (women) decision to have sex. REALLY?!

Whether or not to YOU have an abortion is a private / individual CHOICE and right, but YOU having sex is is a very PUBLIC matter – RESPONSIBILITY – that everyone must contribute money towards so you can do it? Give me a freaking break!

Yes, I KNOW contraceptives are medically for more than for use during sex. If you want that covered, I suggest you go on-line to the Obamacare web site and find yourself a policy that provides that coverage…that you can afford. The 1st part is easy, since Obama mandated that EVERY policy (even for guys) contain contraceptive and abortion insurance…but finding one you can afford is going to be the problem.

easyt65 on March 14, 2014 at 9:19 AM

Serious journalism?

Here’s Sophie Novack:

Here’s Clara Ritger:

Behold the faces of serious journalism.

Then again, it is the National Journal.

chuckh on March 14, 2014 at 11:19 AM

So, let me get this straight: because the government does not require my employer to provide food and housing to me and my family as a ‘benefit’ in addition to my paycheck (regardless of whether I make plenty to rent/buy housing and go to the grocery store and buy enough food to make the whole family morbidly obese in a month), the government through its failure to pass a law, write regulations, or issue an Executive Order to make my employer provide the ‘food and housing benefit’, is ‘restricting access’ to food and a place to live for me and my children. They are in effect trying to starve my kids and make us homeless!

Those evil government ba**ards!

s1im on March 15, 2014 at 12:28 PM