The Obama Administration’s Misleading Abortion Semantics

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Anna Paprocki
Staff Attorney, Americans United For Life
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      Anna Paprocki

      Anna Franzonello joined Americans United for Life in September 2009. Her areas of expertise include protecting the freedom of conscience, the case for investigating Planned Parenthood, so-called “emergency contraception,” and the life-affirming work of Pregnancy Care Centers.

      Among her many responsibilities at AUL, Anna consults with state and federal legislators and has provided testimony in favor of life-affirming legislation.

      Anna is a contributing author to AUL’s publication Defending Life. She is also a co-author of AUL’s Constitutional Law and Abortion primer for law school students and contributed to AUL’s July 2011 Report, The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood, that helped lead to the current Congressional investigation. Along with AUL’s William Saunders, Anna co-authored an academic article “Health Care Reform and Respect for Human Life: How the Process Failed” which was published in the 2011 Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy.

      On behalf of Americans of Life, Anna has authored multiple comments to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), addressing the inappropriate over-reach of the HHS mandate and the insufficiency of the conscience “accommodations” suggested by HHS. Anna also attended the Institute of Medicine meetings regarding “preventive services” and testified before the panel during the public comments period.

      While at AUL, Anna has been published and interviewed by a variety of news sources including National Review Online, Politico, Washington Times, Touchstone Magazine, World Magazine, National Catholic Register, Fox News, CBN, ABC News, CBS News, and NPR. She has also been an invited speaker at schools and events across the country including Albany Law School, Cardozo Law School, Washington University Law School, the University of Buffalo, the Values Voters Summit, the Conservative Political Action Committee, the Diocese of Rochester’s Fortnight for Freedom, and Franciscan University’s Life, Liberty, and Leadership Symposium.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s recent “misspeak” — outlandishly claiming the Hobby Lobby decision “outlawed” contraceptives — was far from the first misrepresentation about the case. Rather than be “afraid” of the Court, as Pelosi urged, Americans should be alarmed by the federal government’s own admissions in the courtroom.

Life-ending drugs and devices are masqueraded as “contraception,” and the Obama administration believes it has the power to enforce an all-abortion mandate against religious objections.

The Court in Hobby Lobby clearly articulated that what the Green and Hahn families find morally wrong is the “destruction of an embryo” and that the government conceded the drugs and devices at issue “may result in the destruction of an embryo.”

As the majority opinion accurately captured, the families’ religious objection is to ending a human life. The government admitted what science, not religion, confirms: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) label “contraception,” a term that sounds benign to many people, includes drugs and devices that can work after fertilization (conception) by killing an embryo — a unique human being.

Both sides agreed that the drugs and devices at issue in the case can end human life.

Predictably, the straightforward explanation of the Green and Hahn families’ religious principle to respect life at its earliest stages upset those who would rather get caught up in a bait-and-switch discussion about the term “abortion.” L.A. Times  columnist Robin Abcarian, for example, complained that the “worst” part of the opinion was the acknowledgment that, for the plaintiffs, ending an embryo’s life by blocking implantation is tantamount to abortion.

Citing a description of progesterone-based drugs, Abcarian wrongly concludes the progesterone-blocking drug ella (one so-called “emergency contraceptive”) would not harm an embryo in an “established pregnancy,” which she defines as beginning “after implantation.” Blocking progesterone, a hormone essential in pregnancy, ella can cause an implanted embryo’s death. Studies support that fact. Blocking progesterone is precisely how the abortion drug mifepristone kills a baby as well.

Abcarian’s error aside, the Court rightly rejected playing the semantics game she and others want to wage. Arguing over the “abortion” label is a distraction. The government admitted its mandate includes what the Greens and Hahns object to: drugs and devices that can end human life.

Some proponents of so-called “emergency contraception” embrace that reality.

Take, for example, “Embracing Post-Fertilization Methods of Family Planning,” an article published by the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care. Its authors include Princeton’s Dr. James Trussell — a researcher affiliated with Planned Parenthood, the Guttmacher Institute, and other pro-abortion groups, whose work related to “contraceptives” is cited by the FDA.

The authors state that post-fertilization effects (i.e. those that end the life of an already developing human embryo) should be “celebrated” since they make drugs and devices more effective. Pleading with legislators and policymakers to embrace, rather than deny, these life-ending effects, they argue “the essential value” to women “lies precisely in the attributes it shares with abortion.”

The authors are right that it is time to openly acknowledge that some labeled “contraceptives” have life-ending effects. But they are dead wrong to think women do not care about whether the drugs and devices they take may end the early lives of their children.

Hobby Lobby, for example, cares precisely about that distinction. The insurance plan Barbara and David Green offered their employees, prior to any government mandate, covered some “contraceptives.” The Green family objected to being forced to pay for coverage of four drugs and devices misleadingly labeled as “contraception” despite their known life-ending properties.