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Pro-life: It’s Not About Contraception!

It seems that many individuals who are pro-choice have no idea why pro-lifers are pro-life. At least that’s the only explanation I can find for this article, where the author assumes that the “Religious Right” will be against a new form of male birth control. They even point out that Hobby Lobby’s health insurance still covers vasectomies and then assume that they’ve made some kind of point, as if they’ve caught Hobby Lobby in some kind of hypocrisy. That doesn’t make any sense at all: unless, of course, the person writing the article has no idea why Hobby Lobby refuses to offer certain contraceptives. Asking why Hobby Lobby opposes certain kinds of women’s birth control but doesn’t oppose vasectomies is like asking why someone who is opposed to drowning puppies isn’t opposed to neutering dogs.

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe you, like the author of this article, doesn’t understand why Hobby Lobby made their lawsuit in the first place. Maybe you too work under the mistaken idea that everyone who is pro-life is pro-life because they oppose contraception. Maybe you think that pro-lifers just want there to be more kids in the world, and thus oppose anything that keeps people from having kids. If you’re under this assumption I simply want to let you know that you are mistaken. While some pro-lifers do oppose contraception (notably Catholics) opposition to contraception has nothing to do with being pro-life. Being pro-life is about being against abortion. I’m pro-life and I’m highly in favor of effective and cheap contraception. Fewer unexpected pregnancies means fewer abortions. I can assure whoever wrote that article that Hobby Lobby would likely be extremely enthusiastic about this new form of male birth control because it will prevent pregnancy without causing an abortion. That’s why they only refused to pay for four out of twenty different forms of contraception. Did you ever wonder why Hobby Lobby singled out those specific four kinds of contraception? It’s because they come with the possible risk of preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg: in other words, a kind of abortion. Now you can argue that preventing the implantation of an egg is not the same as aborting a fetus, or you could make the even stronger argument that those particular contraceptives do not actually prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg, but the fact remains that Hobby Lobby chose to single out those contraceptives because they believe they can cause abortions. You can’t say is that they are opposed to contraception: they are perfectly fine with 16 other forms of contraceptive. What they are opposed to is abortion.

I think a lot of people don’t understand the pro-life position, and many pro-lifers assume that the pro-choicers do which leads to miscommunication like this. So that we can better understand each other, let me lay out the pro-life position at its most basic level. Those who are pro-life believe four things:

  1. All human beings have a right to life.
  2. This right (alternatively, identifying human beings) is not based on anything (intelligence, level of development, ability to feel pain, race, gender, etc) other than the fact that the individual in question is a human.
  3. Zygotes and fetuses are human.
  4. Thus, human induced abortion violates a human beings right to life and is thus not morally permissible.

There are qualifiers to those three beliefs: some, for instance would add that a human’s right to life can be taken away through due process of the law (that is, a legal execution is not morally wrong). Still, this is the basic logical underpinning of the pro-life position. Male birth control does not end the life of a human and would thus be completely acceptable, even encouraged, by pro-lifers just as a person opposed to euthanizing puppies would likely be enthusiastic in insuring that dogs are spayed and neutered.

Now most pro-choice individuals disagree with one of the four points above. The vast, vast majority do not disagree with point 1 (All human beings have a right to life), but rather disagree with point 2. They believe that a human does not have rights until it can be considered a person, and that zygotes and fetuses are not developed enough to be considered persons and thus have no rights. From this point of view a fetus is human, but not a human being. A few disagree with point 3, but in doing so they go against what science has to show us. Zygotes and fetuses are not some kind of half-human half something else: they are human. They have the human genome, they are examples of the human species, and no scientist in their right mind would say that zygotes and fetuses belong to some other, non-human, species until the moment of their birth. The zygote is the first stage of human development, and is just as human as an old man on his death-bed. This being understood, the weight of the disagreement between pro-life and pro-choice falls on point number 2.

To put all of it even more simply, pro-lifers think that abortion means killing a human being. If a controceptive doesn’t result in an abortion then there is no conflict there.

It is sad that there are many who don’t understand why individuals hold the position they hold on abortion. Pro-choice individuals writing about how pro-lifers will be opposed to male contraception because they want to control people’s bodies is like pro-life individuals writing that pro-choicers are opposed to marriage because they just want to have wild and consequence free sex. Both statements show a huge amount of ignorance about what the other side actually believes. I think that we can all agree that we would have a better world if everyone actually examined the arguments of those who are politically opposed to them instead of relying on hearsay and caricature.