Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the politics of abortion:
The birth control pill became commercially available in 1960, and in 1973 abortion was legalized. Those on the left who have been pushing for a libertine culture have won the PR battle on contraception (most Americans are okay with it), but they have lost the PR battle on abortion (most Americans want limits on when and why it should be performed).
The public has been trending pro-life in recent years. Technology is one reason why: baby pictures in the womb are convincing. This has upset the abortion industry, forcing them to develop new strategies. One preferred tactic is to include abortion-inducing drugs in public policies that allow for contraception.
The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate promoted by the Obama administration was designed to force all employers, including Catholic ones, to provide contraceptives in their insurance plans. They did not include abortion. However, they did include abortifacients, or abortion-inducing drugs. Why?
The Obama officials knew that abortion is viewed very differently than contraceptives, so that is why they left it out of the HHS mandate. They could have stopped right there—forcing employers to pay for contraceptives but not abortion. But they did not. They were bent on including abortifacients in their policy. In doing so, they showed their true colors: As I have been saying for years, the HHS mandate was never about contraceptives—it was always about abortion.
The long-term goal of pro-abortion activists is to have nationwide tax-funded abortions without any restrictions whatsoever. But they can’t get that now, which explains why they have settled for public funding of abortifacients.
Regrettably, some on the pro-life side have failed to see what the pro-abortion game plan is. That includes the University of Notre Dame.
In February 2018, Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins announced that the university would start providing coverage for what he called “simple contraceptives.” He said the plan would not cover abortifacients. If he thought this policy would prove to be non-controversial, he was wrong. Not only did some Notre Dame students, faculty, and alumni not agree with funding contraceptives, those on the pro-abortion side were livid. They sued because abortion-inducing drugs were not covered.
They didn’t wait long: their suit was filed in June, just four months later. Their incremental approach—push for abortifacients but not abortion—was exactly what the HHS mandate provided. Recently, on January 16, Notre Dame lost in district court in its bid to have the case dismissed. Jenkins should have known that the Left will never be appeased—they always want more.
Leading the charge for abortifacients in the school’s healthcare policy are Irish 4 Reproductive Health (a far-left student association), Americans United for Separation of Church and State (an anti-Catholic organization), the National Women’s Law Center (a radical feminist entity), and the Center for Reproductive Rights (an extremist pro-abortion institution). The students receive funding from the taxpayer-funded giant, Planned Parenthood, and Catholics for Choice (a Catholic-bashing group).
What unites the four groups suing the University of Notre Dame is their contention that abortifacients are a form of birth control and should therefore not be excluded in a policy that allows for contraceptive coverage.
Irish 4 Reproductive Health calls for a “comprehensive” policy that addresses “reproductive healthcare.” Americans United says Notre Dame is denying “certain forms of birth control.” The National Women’s Law Center says the policy does not fund “birth control guaranteed to them by the Affordable Care Act.” The Center for Reproductive Rights uses the identical language.
Are abortifacients really analogous to the pill as a form of birth control? Or are they really abortion-inducing medications?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says, “There is no scientific evidence that FDA-approved emergency contraceptives affect an existing pregnancy; no EC is classified as an abortifacient.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops disagrees, saying there is much confusion over what constitutes an abortion. “HHS uses it to describe only the disruption of an already implanted pregnancy. However, because a human life begins when sperm and egg meet to form a new living organism, the moral problem of abortion arises whenever a drug or device destroys the new embryonic human being, for example by preventing his or her implantation in the uterine wall needed to survive.”
Who does the pro-abortion industry agree with? For them, the question is irrelevant. They maintain that abortion, abortifacients, and contraceptives are all the same: they are a form of birth control.
Planned Parenthood says, “The Paragard [copper] IUD is the most effective type of emergency contraception. It works up to 5 days after unprotected sex, and keeps on preventing pregnancy for up to 12 years.” That puts them in partial agreement with the bishops—it is an abortifacient. But, of course, unlike the bishops, they are okay with that.
NARAL Pro-Choice, the other abortion behemoth, says, “Emergency contraception (EC), sometimes called ‘the morning-after pill,’ is birth control that significantly reduces the chances of becoming pregnant if taken soon after sex.” So it agrees with the bishops that EC works as an abortifacient, but it also celebrates its usage as a form of birth control.
The National Women’s Liberation says, “We want free and full access to all forms of birth control, including contraception and abortion.” The linkage is similarly acknowledged.
Interestingly, the idea that abortion is a form of birth control was rejected in 2016 by pro-abortion politician Nancy Pelosi. This earned her the wrath of her fans at NARAL. What gives?
Pelosi, who calls herself a Catholic, is constantly under criticism for her pro-abortion stance, so it behooved her not to be seen as a proponent of the position that “abortion is a form of birth control.” NARAL was free to say what it believes.
Casting abortion as a form of birth control is nothing new. In 1968, five years before Roe v. Wade, the Task Force on Family Law and Policy issued a report to the Citizens’ Advisory Council on the Status of Women (a group established by President John F. Kennedy). It argued in favor of repealing state abortion laws, calling abortion “an alternative to other contraceptive methods” (my italic).
Two years after Roe, in a journal published by an institution affiliated with the Department of Health and Human Services, a study was done on the “effectiveness of abortion as a form of birth control.”
In 1992, Dr. Susan Allen, a physician with the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta, and a practicing abortionist, flatly admitted that “Abortion is a form of birth control.”
The pro-abortion students at the University of Notre Dame, and their pro-abortion allies, are ultimately determined to sell the notion that abortion is a form of birth control. But because there are some nervous Nellies out there (e.g., Pelosi), they are now settling for equating abortifacients with contraceptives. It’s time to unmask these activists. It is not the pill that fires them—it’s abortion.