Why Against Birth Control?

RFDreligiousfreedom3-sfSpanWhen reading that Hobby Lobby and other like-in-cause corporations won their Supreme Court challenge to forgo covering birth control for their employees due to religious objections, I wondered why are they so against birth control? Then when I was doing further reading in the NYT I found two great pieces in which the first poses, and then the second answers.

First, I found this quote in the Room For Debate op-ed feature of the NYT with a short piece by “Douglas Laycock, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Virginia. He wrote an amicus brief in the Hobby Lobby case on behalf of a coalition of groups led by the Christian Legal Society.” He writes:

Making Hobby Lobby pay for contraception methods that might also cause abortions… [My italics]

So I thought I found my answer to why Hobby Lobby and their legal cohorts fought the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for forcing them to cover women’s birth control: It’s tantamount to abortion.

But then I found a piece in The Upshot section of the NYT by that put this claim to rest. He writes that…

The owners of Hobby Lobby told the Court that they were willing to cover some forms of contraception but believed that the so-called morning-after pills and two kinds of IUDs can cause what they believe to be a type of abortion, by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall or causing an already implanted egg to fail to thrive.

As colleagues have noted, the scientific consensus is against this idea…Even without contraception, fertilized eggs often fail to implant naturally.

Carroll goes on to explain, with linked citations to medical journal articles, that neither IUD’s nor morning-after (Plan-B) pills cause abortions under this definition. He states:

Moreover, the fact that both of these forms of contraception can fail, and allow pregnancies to occur, provides evidence that if a fertilization occurs, it can move on to implant and grow.

So Carroll’s answer to my question proves one thing: the owners/founders of Hobby Lobby and their fellow plaintiffs are misinformed. In the Carroll piece, he goes into how IUD’s work stating that not much is known about their form and explicit function, hence a probable load of PR against them. These corporation owners need to step away from religious, right-wing, Pro-Life propaganda and get informed by the science.

 

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Christians Are Rational When It Serves Their Worldview

degrasse_tyson_limbaugh-620x412A great piece at Salon.com by constructs a great argument around the recent controversy stirred-up by religious fundamentalist against Neil deGrasse Tyson and his hit show “The Cosmos.”

It’s been the same thing since Darwin and his theory of evolution:

Religious conservatives have selectively adopted the legacy of liberal Enlightenment, from free speech to science, and jettisoned it when it does not suit their narrow ideological aims.

But McElwee puts forth a great analysis of this argument together with a lot of new points. Awesome read!

Read Here.

 

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Carter For Women’s Rights

BASE CLOSINGS CARTERAn article in The Guardian reports that the new book by former President Jimmy Carter rails against violence of all kinds against women and girls. Carter cites in the texts how the violence is justified through gross interpretations of religious texts.

Carter’s new book, A Call To Action, may be a must read according to the report.

Read Here.

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Supreme Court and Prayer in Townhall Meetings

supreme_court_buildingIn Greece vs. Galloway, an important battle for the separation of church and state is examined by the Supreme Court regarding whether town board meetings can be begun with mostly Christian prayers.

Read Here.

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Egypt Now Fertile Ground For Extremists?

egypthirshbannerA good article by Michael Hirsch in The Atlantic proposing that Egypt may become the new, fertile recruiting ground for Islamic extremists and how the lack of a clear American foreign policy stance on recent events is just increasing the odds of this happening.

Read Here.

In Light of the Reaction to Anti-Islamic Film, Where Should We Draw the Line on Censorship?

As the protests overseas continue to grow over a film trailer and violence has turned the demonstrations horribly ugly, a question is raised by the entire situation from a domestic perspective.  An article in the CSM points to the question:

The difficult legal question involving free speech is whether the offensive video in this case amounts to what US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1919 called a “clear and present danger” akin to someone “falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.”

The FBI has now spoken to the filmmaker but should he be implicated for the reaction to his video?  The obvious Constitutional answer is no.  But the fact he has been, at the very least, contacted by a federal law enforcement agency suggests the answer is not that obvious.

This question is provocative and has many debatable points but, for this post, let’s just focus on the idea of whether a negative depiction of a culture is akin to yelling fire in a theater.  The idea behind yelling fire in a theater is the knowledge a panic will erupt and people could get hurt in the ensuing chaos.  But when negatively portraying something in a film that is near and dear to another person’s heart, where should the line be drawn?

Anything can be taken as offensive and potentially enrage people sensitive to the subject being ridiculed or criticized.  But in a country where free speech is king, how do we judge what is okay and what is dangerous?  Take the upcoming release of the film Red Dawn, for example.  In this remake, the bad guys are the invading North Korean army.  How can we be sure there will be no violent reaction in North Korea to this movie?  We simply can’t.

Let’s take another example more relevant to the recent protests: the Kevin Smith comedy relating to Christianity, Dogma.  Protests occurred and people were angry at the movie but no embassies were attacked.  No one that I’m aware of was killed despite the anger.  But how did we know for sure nothing would happen prior to the release of this film?  We didn’t know but allowed the release anyway.

And for these reasons, the filmmaker of the anti-Islamic trailer should not be prosecuted.  It is a difficult balance to reach, particularly on the subject of religion and also after lives have been lost, but we cannot know the reaction of the public when a movie, a piece of artwork, a song, or anything else that could be offensive is released.  Prosecuting this filmmaker would be no different than prosecuting the makers of the Dark Knight for the proceeding shooting in Aurora, Colorado.  Some may see this as the lesser of two evils but there is no doubt it is in the interest of freedom of expression in the long run.

The U.S. Electoral College and Cuba

’08 Electoral College Map (Credit: Wikipedia)

Florida continues to be a critical swing state in the race for president and the likelihood that changes anytime soon is tiny.  So it is no surprise both political parties pander to groups in that state much more than others in order to ensure they don’t alienate people in the interest of winning important Electoral College votes and the executive office.  One of the most powerful groups, of course, is the Cuban population who desperately want to see the end of the Castro regime and want to see regime change happen quickly.  This sometimes makes for odd U.S. policy and statements.

Some of that oddness was highlighted Friday in a commentary posted  on Foreign Policy.  The first was a comment by President Obama that mirrors comments of previous presidents toward Cuba:

I assure you that I and the American people will welcome the time when the Cuban people have the freedom to live their lives, choose their leaders, and fully participate in this global economy and international institutions.

Yes, if Cuba would just choose to fully participate in the global economy they would be so much better off.  Great point by the American executive office holder.  I wonder why they don’t?…Oh, yeah.  It’s because the United States continues to vote against lifting the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba when it is brought up in the United Nations.  If only the President of the United States knew someone who could talk to the President of the United States to change his position on the trade embargo then the President of the United States could say Cuba has joined the global economy.  Too bad William Shatner’s Priceline negotiator died.  Maybe he could have solved this communication problem.  And because the U.S. is the world’s light for democracy, we show it off proudly by voting with the majority on those trade embargo votes.  A worldwide majority typically of…two or three countries.  Versus roughly 185.  I wonder where dictators around the world get their ideas about authoritarianism?

But the main argument of the commentary was the fact the U.S. is at odds with a Catholic Cardinal, Jaime Ortega, and others like him who believe change will come to Cuba but it will be slowly so the church should still do whatever it can, working with the regime, to help whoever possible.  Since the Cardinal has decided to stay in Cuba and do his work there, he does not appear to be as much of an ally as the well-financed exiles throwing stones from Florida.  So the U.S. government goes after him and his kind, as stated:

When the SFRC (Senate Foreign Relations Committee) discovered that USAID and State Department contractors and government-sponsored NGOs were running operations, including websites, against church leaders in 2010-2011, USAID said that the groups were merely “exercising their First Amendment rights”…The State Department and USAID have spent about $200 million on these programs over the past 10 years.

In other words, Cardinal Ortega, stop being Catholic.  Stop doing what Jesus would do.  It makes you look bad when you are helping all those people who need help.  I mean, for God’s sake!  Giving out food and medicine to the needy?  What’s this guy trying to do?  Show up FEMA?  How arrogant!

Ultimately, this all comes back to the Electoral College and the fact only certain states and certain groups within those states have so much say over U.S. policy.  It begs asking the question: what would Cuba and American policy toward Cuba look like if the Electoral College did not exist?  It’s an interesting hypothetical that is impossible to answer.  In all likelihood, the policy would have been the same during the Cold War years.  But would it have changed in the ensuing decades.  No one knows.

But we do know one thing.  If you are a minority group or an underrepresented majority looking to heavily influence U.S. policy in the interest of your people, there is only one thing for you to do.  Move to a swing state where you would actually matter because living anywhere else in this “democracy” doesn’t seem to be as important to the decision makers in government.

New tactic, Occupy Wall Street!  Try Occupying Ohio and see what happens!

Sectarian Violence Among Syrian Revolt

According to Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Assad’s government is supporting sectarian violence amidst the revolt.

Read Here.