Fact checking time! Mitt Romney hit the campaign trail in Colorado last night and referred to emergency contraception/the morning-after pill as “abortive pills.” This could be because he or his team genuinely doesn’t understand that emergency contraception (Plan B) and the abortion pill (RU-486) are two completely different pills. Or it could be because he’s irresponsibly trying to totally conflate the two for political gain, which I am sure would shock — shock! — you coming from an anti-abortion politician. (Is Mitt anti-abortion this week? I can never keep track!)
Let’s recap, very briefly: The morning-after pill prevents a pregnancy by stopping a woman’s ovaries from releasing eggs — which could be fertilized by the sperm and go implant in the uterus — as well as thinning the lining of a woman’s uterus so a fertilized egg cannot implant. The RU-486 abortion pill, on the other hand, ends an existing pregnancy — as in, the fertilized egg has already implanted in the uterus and a fetus is growing. (I explain it all in more detail in this post.)
See? Two different things, Mitt.
Romney was speaking at a rally last night when he addressed the recent decision regarding health care reform by the Obama administration to require most employers to cover preventative health care — i.e. birth control — without co-pays or deductibles. This past August, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that health insurers would be required to cover birth control without co-pays following the release of a report by the Institute of Medicine. That independent panel of doctors had cited coverage of preventative health care, such as STD screening and birth control, in its recommendation of best practices.
Some employers will be exempt from coverage, specifically houses of worship and religious non-profits where employees are generally of a strictly religious faith. But other religiously-affiliated employers — such as schools, for example — are not exempt and have been given one year to figure out a way to be compliant with the regulations. This has become a bone of contention, especially among evangelical Christians and Catholics.
Romney told the crowd last night:
“I’m just distressed as I watch our president try and infringe upon our rights, the First Amendment of the Constitution provides the right to worship in the way of our own choice. This same administration said that the churches and the institutions they run, such as schools and let’s say adoption agencies, hospitals, that they have to provide for their employees free of charge, contraceptives, morning after pills, in other words abortive pills, and the like at no cost. Think what that does to people in faiths that do not share those views. This is a violation of conscience. We must have a president who is willing to protect America’s first right, our right to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.”
The issue of whether or not this is a “violation of conscience” — you know, like my paying taxes to finance wars that I don’t support — is for discussion in another post. What’s more concerning to me here is how Mitt Romney is parroting the same language used by Rep. Michele Bachmann when she referred to EC during a televised Republican debate as the “morning-after abortion pill.” It was wrong when Bachmann said it and it’s wrong when Romney says it. I support a woman’s autonomy to decide for herself whether carrying a pregnancy to term is the right decision for her, so I don’t have ethical issues with women using RU-486 or EC. But for anti-abortion foes to conflate two completely different things — comparing an egg, which may or may not be fertilized, but hasn’t implanted in a uterus to a fetus — either demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of that which they speak of … or it’s just shady.
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