Why Rachel Held Evans is wrong about contraception

Rachel Held Evans has recently written a lengthy blog post expressing her views on the morality of contraception. She basically defends Obamacare’s contraception mandate and complains that evangelicals are mistaken in their views on modern birth control methods and “morning-after” pills.

Andrew Walker and I have published a response over at the First Things website, and we argue that her essay is mistaken on a number of levels. For instance, Evans denies that “morning-after” pills have an abortifacient mechanism. Yet somehow she misses that the FDA label on Plan B’s package says otherwise. But you don’t have to believe me. You can read the label for yourself. Notice the second sentence in bold underneath “Other information”:

Right there as plain as day, it says that Plan B may actually “prevent” a fertilized human egg from attaching to the mother’s womb. In other words, it can cause a spontaneous abortion.

Evans makes another claim that is quite surprising. She says that the birth control pill sometimes prevents human embryos from implanting in the mother’s womb. In her own words:

There’s the very remote chance that fertilization will somehow manage to occur. In this case the zygote will probably fail to implant on the uterine wall.

I was surprised that she held to this potential—albeit rare—mechanism of action for hormonal contraceptives. The question is highly disputed among evangelicals, and usually only those who oppose the pill acknowledge it as a possibility (see my discussion of this issue in chapter 5 of my book). Since Evans supports the use of the pill, it is astonishing that she would say the third mechanism of action ever comes into play. She tries to downplay the inconsistency by pointing out that the pill causes this to happen less often than it would otherwise happen naturally. But that’s a red herring. It’s not okay to kill some humans in utero simply because other humans die naturally in utero with greater frequency than the ones you’re killing. That’s a moral absurdity.

In any case, I could go on, but I think you get the picture. To read more about this and other errors in Evans’ argument, you can read the rest of our essay: “Equivocation and Contraception: A Response to Rachel Held Evans.”

65 Responses to Why Rachel Held Evans is wrong about contraception

  1. Don Johnson January 30, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    My take is there is a war going on between the 2 sides on abortion and truth is usually the first casualty in a war. I hope RHE reads your article so she can better understanding the concerns, and updates her post to at least engage the concerns, or better, change her mind on this.

  2. Kristin Richardson January 30, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    Anyone looking to have an opinion on this subject should probably read this as well:
    http://www.aaplog.org/position-and-papers/oral-contraceptive-controversy/hormone-contraceptives-controversies-and-clarifications/

  3. James Bradshaw January 30, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

    So is non-abortive contraception immoral or not, in your estimation?

    While I’m sympathetic to the pro-life movement, I find it difficult to align myself with an extremism that deems a fertilized egg “fully human” in the same way a grown adult is.

    • Chris Ryan January 31, 2014 at 1:20 am #

      Yeah, I’m not sure where it says in the Bible, “Life doesn’t begin at implantation, it begins at fertilization.” I’ll check my KJV again, but I don’t think its in there.

      I’m actually quite worried at this relatively recent move by some evangelicals to accept Catholic doctrine on contraception. The surest way to eliminate an abortion is to ensure that the woman has contraception.

      And, finally, the only people attempting to trample religious liberty are those ppl who think that my boss has a right to prevent my wife from using contraception. When these ppl come out and support a Jehovah’s Witness right to prevent his employees from getting blood transfusions, then we’ll know they’re really serious abt religious liberty. Until then, this seems less abt the BIble than abt differing political beliefs. How many evangelicals think that Christian Scientists should be able to rely on faith healing alone even when their little children suffer from cancer? Let me see evangelicals stand up for those families & we’ll have a robust discussion of religious liberty.

      • Kamilla Ludwig January 31, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

        Who is trying to prevent your wife from using contraception?

  4. Casey D. Boyd January 30, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    Simple biology is “extremism” now?

  5. Mike Dunger (@ModernEzra) January 30, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    To be honest, I begin from the position that Rachel Evans is wrong on any topic she discusses. Any woman who claims to be a Christian, yet continues to cling to her father’s house is double-minded, and therefore unstable in all her ways.

    • Paul Cook January 30, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

      Rachel is probably taking into consideration the recent discussion that the FDA’s warning on the Plan B pill is incorrect.

      • Rachel Held Evans January 31, 2014 at 11:16 am #

        Yes, I was. Christianity Today had a good report on that: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/may/does-plan-b-cause-abortion.html

        Denny’s article did such a hatchet job on my original piece, I hardly recognized the woman he was talking about. It was painful, actually.

        Please read my original post before judging me based on Denny’s deceptive caricature. And for my actual position on abortion, read: http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/why-progressive-christians-should-care-about-abortion-gosnell

        I don’t mind disagreeing on this issue and engaging in healthy debates. But we should do it truthfully – dealing with actual science and with people’s actual arguments.

        • Kamilla Ludwig January 31, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

          Rachel, you’ve had multiple venues in which to show how Denny’s piece is a hatchet job. And multiple requests that you do so. And you have refused to provide any actual examples of this ‘hatchet job’.

          He engaged your article substantively on multiple points. I’ve shown two more places where you are in error in my comments on the FT piece.

          Don’t you think it is long past time to, in the colloquial way of saying it, “put up or shut up”?

          • Chris Ryan January 31, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

            “Put up or shut up”? That’s an awfully respectful way to discuss these issue. It seems to me that all this sturm und drang over Rachel’s article is merely b/cs some ppl cling to an unscientific view of abortion, while Rachel points out the fact that abortion has always been described scientifically as a **post-implantation** procedure. That’s always been the problem w/ this romantic notion that life begins at fertilization. Its neither scientific, nor more importantly Biblical. As Buddyglass points out below, if zygotes really had a soul then a women would have scores of children die on them.

        • Denny Burk January 31, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

          I’m aware of the debate about the FDA’s label on Plan B. The NYTimes reported on it months (a year?) before CT did. I deal with it extensively in chapter 5 of my book.

        • Alastair Roberts January 31, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

          I left this comment over on the First Things post (it is waiting in moderation at the moment), but thought that it was worth posting much the same thing here too.

          On which specific points have you been misrepresented? Could you clarify exactly where you stand on the issues that Denny Burk and Andrew Walker have raised? Some questions that might help to clear up some potential misunderstandings here:

          1. How would you answer the question of when life begins?

          2. Do you believe that there is a moral distinction to be drawn between a process that occurs naturally (‘natural abortions’) and intervening in such a way as to cause or increase the likelihood of that occurrence? As such distinctions are important in such cases as assisted suicide, how would you address such a case?

          3. In cases where we are operating without clear awareness of how contraception operates (the CT article that you link is clear that this is an area where we don’t have clear knowledge), should we err on the side of caution? If not, why not? What degree of risk, if any, should we tolerate when dealing with the earliest stages of life? (Germain Grisez’s observation comes to mind here: ‘to be willing to kill what for all one knows is a person is to be willing to kill a person’).

          4. How would you respond to the concern that when you are arguing that we should advocate widespread use of birth control to decrease abortions and maternal deaths, the argument is essentially one with the logic ‘let us do evil that good may come’?

          5. You have raised questions about whether we should really be focusing on removing the supply of abortion in the way that we are. Do you think that it is a matter of serious moral concern that we remove any medical, political, religious, or legal sanction for the killing of the unborn, whether or not this actually changes the rate of abortion?

          6. How should we respect and protect the conscience of devout Catholics and others who are morally opposed to contraception (even when it does not cause abortion) and object to being made complicit in it by government order?

          7. How would you address the broader questions surrounding the radical normalization of contraception and the part that recent political developments play in that? Is widespread normalized contraception use good for society’s sexual mores? For women’s relationships with their bodies? For our understanding of sex as bound up with procreation? For viewing sex as something that needs to be engaged in within a committed context that makes provision for its potential consequences? For our understanding of children (as ‘choice’ is increasingly valorized over all else)?

          Finally, considering the way that you represented the positions of those who differ with you on the issue of contraception within your post, the claim that you have been grossly misrepresented in the post above did give me reason for a wry smile.

        • Hannah Lewis January 31, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

          I need to get a t-shirt that says “Rachel Held Evans is my homegirl.” Eshet Chayil, sister. 🙂

        • Alastair Roberts January 31, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

          Rachel,

          Respectfully, it would be appreciated if you addressed the requests to clarify the specific ways in which you have been misrepresented. You have been asked to do so by a number of people and I am not aware of any answer that has been given. If you answered the clarifying questions that I asked, for instance, it would help us all to know where we stand relative to each other. While some of us may disagree with you strongly in what we understand you to be saying, we want to make sure that we understand you thoroughly and are not misrepresenting you (and I, for one, have read your various pieces on this subject and related issues closely).

          In the absence of any response to various specific and honest questions and points of concern that would tie you down and make where you stand on these issues clearer, the constant refrain that you have been misrepresented can start to appear as if it were a smokescreen. Denny Burk’s post may have addressed matters raised in your post from an angle oblique to your post’s primary point and may not have tackled what you considered to be the main thrust of your post. I see no reason why there is anything wrong with such an approach, one which you yourself have employed on occasions in the past. The matters that he raised were not just concerns and questions in his mind.

          Also, many of the people asking for these clarifications aren’t Denny Burk or Andrew Walker and, while we have our concerns with your position, want to hear you defend and articulate your position in more detail before reaching definitive conclusions or seek to represent positively or negatively exactly what you stand for. Are you prepared to answer questions from such persons? It seems unreasonable to use the supposed misrepresentations of some to evade the honest inquiries of others.

    • Jon Charles January 31, 2014 at 7:05 am #

      well when Feminism is first and not the Bible/God what else to expect

    • Nish Weiseth January 31, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

      Now hang on just one minute. Are you suggesting that Rachel Held Evans is not REALLY a Christian and is also “double-minded and unstable” because she has chosen to use her maiden name AS WELL as her married name?

      Oh you’ve GOT to be kidding me. This is, quite possibly, one of the most outlandish and irresponsible claims I’ve heard out of this place, and that’s saying a LOT.

      • Jon Charles February 1, 2014 at 12:56 am #

        where did you get the whole “names ” thing? nothing to do with names

        its based on the bible not what people name themselves!!!

        • buddyglass February 1, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

          Mike wrote, “Any woman who clings to her father’s house…”

          Presumably that was in reference to her dual last-names.

  6. James Harold Thomas January 30, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

    Interestingly, in her post about how Plan B does not prevent implantation, Evans quotes someone (who quotes someone who quotes some very simplified statistics) who says that the regular old “pill” does.

    Quoting Evans:
    “With most oral contraception, a woman takes a daily pill, usually a combination of estrogen and progestin. The hormones prevent ovulation and thicken a woman’s cervical mucus, blocking sperm from fertilizing an egg. (Of course, hypothetically, there’s the very remote chance that fertilization will somehow manage to occur. In this case the zygote will probably fail to implant on the uterine wall. But, as Libby Anne points out here, this happens naturally in women who are not on the pill far more often than it happens to women who are on the pill.)”

    If you follow her sources, they claim that in those cases when the pill doesn’t prevent ovulation and fertilization occurs, then implantation is inhibited 100% of the time (vs. 18% naturally). In other words, according to Evans’ sources, the pill does indeed prevent implantation as a secondary mechanism.

    • James Harold Thomas January 30, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

      And furthermore, if I may be so bold as to reply to my own comment, I should have read Denny’s post completely before commenting – I read his First Things response and went straight to comment.

      But following on what Denny wrote, I think in addition to a red herring, the point that Anne and Sarah (Evans’ sources) are trying to make is also a strawman and a false dilemma.

      Here’s Sarah’s relevant quote:

      “Without Birth Control:
      Out of 100 fertile women on birth control, 100 of them will ovulate in any given month.
      Out of those 100 released eggs, 33 will become fertilized.
      Out of those 33, 18% will be rejected by the uterus.
      In a group of 100 women not on birth control: 6 zygotes will “die”

      With [the pill] Birth Control:
      Out of 100 fertile women on birth control, around 6 of them will ovulate in any given month.
      Out of those 6 released eggs, only 2 will become fertilized.
      Out of those 2, 100% will be rejected by the uterus.
      In a group of 100 women on birth control: 2 zygotes will “die”

      So let’s get this straight, taking birth control makes a woman’s body LESS likely to dispel fertilized eggs. **If you believe that life begins at conception, shouldn’t it be your moral duty to reduce the number of zygote “abortions?”** If you believe that a zygote is a human, you actually kill more babies by refusing to take birth control.”
      [end quote. emphasis author’s]

      (Anne changes Sarah’s numbers some, but the idea is the same.)

      The pro-life stance is not to simply reduce the number of zygote abortions. That’s a strawman plain and simple. The pro-life stance is to give life every chance it can have. 82% of the zygotes live in one scenario, and 0% live in another.

      This is also a false dilemma. Other methods of contraception are not mentioned at all. A principled pro-life couple, using barrier contraception, will have few, if any, fertilized eggs. It’s very possible that there would be even fewer unimplanted zygotes than with the pill. But those zygotes that do implant will be given every possible chance at life.

      • Barbara February 3, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

        “So let’s get this straight, taking birth control makes a woman’s body LESS likely to dispel fertilized eggs. ”

        No, it makes her less likely to have a fertilized egg in the first place, but if that does happen, it absolutely won’t find nourishment and a home. 18% vs 100%.

  7. Caree Lookabill January 31, 2014 at 1:44 am #

    I think the most troublesome comment in her blog is when she says ‘the most effective way to curb the abortion rate in this country is to make birth control more affordable and accessible’. Being pro-life means you want the slaughter of innocent children to be illegal, not lessened. And one could argue that just because abortion is illegal doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but there is a distinct difference between something being lawful and therefore declared OK and something being illegal and tragically occurring.

    • Jon Charles January 31, 2014 at 7:04 am #

      She and feminists do not realize that the best way to reduce abortion is by encouraging marriage and stable families i.e opposite to any basic feminist dogma

      thus they keep digging a hole for themselves

      • Jenna Pirrie January 31, 2014 at 11:49 am #

        Interesting. Many of the feminist blogger’s I’ve read either are married with children and have stable families, are married and are open to having children, or are open to marriage and a family.

        So you might be wrong.

        • Jon Charles February 1, 2014 at 1:01 am #

          Exactly- these women are smart in a sense- they enjoy the benefits of family etc but support ideologies that want to destroy families that cause damage to numerous women’s lives- thus leaving their families intact ( well its easy if the Husband is a wimp)

          • Andrew Orlovsky February 2, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

            I think Charles Murray talks about that in his book “Coming Apart”. Educated upper-class America has been relatively immune to the “moral decay” that has occurred since the 1960s. However, the working and lower classes have been practically destroyed by this culture. Many feminists live in a small bubble who don’t realize how much their ideas hurt those in trailer parks and housing projects.

    • Jenna Pirrie January 31, 2014 at 11:52 am #

      What would you say to the fact that making it illegal would also actually only lessen it? Desperate women would still do desperate things. “Illegal” and “lessened” are promoted as opposite in your argument, but that’s deceptive.

      I don’t know where I stand yet on much of this, and it’s important to me to see some of these arguments happen with as much sense and logic as they can have, to understand them better.

      • Brian Watson January 31, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

        Jenna,
        Any activity that is declared illegal will likely still occur. However, that fact does not mean we shouldn’t make something illegal. Murder is illegal, and yet murders still occur. Does anyone seriously think murder should be legal? We have laws that have outlawed slavery, and yet slavery can still occur. (I’m thinking of Ariel Castro specifically, but there are other cases of human trafficking.)

        The real issue is: what is the unborn? If the unborn is a human person, made in the image of God, he or she deserves protection. To kill him/her is murder. Sure, if abortion were illegal, women would still seek abortions. However, making something illegal is a deterrent and helps shape people’s thoughts about an issue. In an ideal world, one would hope that persuasion would be the best way to deter abortions. Yet we live in an imperfect world and that is we have we have laws. Since it is the role of government to punish evil (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17), and since abortion is evil, I don’t see any problem with rendering it illegal.

  8. Ian Shaw January 31, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    James B,

    If a fertilized egg is not “fully human”, what is it, partially human, 1/4 human? What makes something or someone that by all intents and purposes is “human” in it’s very essence and biology, subject to gradation? If it’s popular opinion that dictates what it means to be “fully human” (as modern science has been igonored in the last 25 years regarding the life in a mother’s womb), what’s to stop people from believing that “fully human” people aren’t truly “fully human beings”?

    • James Bradshaw January 31, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

      Ian: we determine biological death with the absence of a heart beat or functioning brain. I think it’s reasonable to assert that “life” begins with the presence of both. This is still relatively early in the developmental stage, mind you.

  9. Andy Chance January 31, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    I really like the section in chapter 5 in which you address the use of hormonal contraception. Is there a way to get permission to print that section for use within our church? Would that fall under fair use? Would I need your permission or also the permission of the publisher?

  10. Bill Griffin January 31, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    “To be honest, I begin from the position that Rachel Evans is wrong on any topic she discusses. ”

    Yeah, that pretty sums it up for me too. How anyone can take that woman seriously is beyond me.

    • Joe Wisnieski February 1, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

      Why Rachel Held Evans is wrong about (insert subject matter here).

  11. Barbara Shafer January 31, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    One of the things that bothers me most about Plan B is that the web site’s FAQs (what a 18 year old would use to self-administer) have a reading level that exceeds the readability for these same kids who couldn’t take a Midol in school without a nurse administering it. A reading level of 12.7-graduate school isn’t helpful for the young person needing to know what the side effects are, how to take it, or when to call the doctor. Even if those under the age of 17 getting it from a doctor and a pharmacist without parental permission won’t have those same professionals by her side as she’s at home with the packaging and can’t read it. Evans and everyone advocating for unsupervised use of this drug are putting girls at risk.

  12. buddyglass January 31, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    My take on this:

    1. Fertilized eggs are “fully human” regardless of whether they’re implanted.

    2. Nobody regards fertilized eggs as children; if they did, then women would be in a constant state of mourning. That’s because:

    3. Normal sex between fertile individuals results in a decent number of zygotes that fail to implant and subsequently perish. The process of human reproduction results in a lot of dead humans.

    Its a medical / statistical exercise to figure out whether hormonal birth control results in more fertilized eggs perishing than would normally occur if no birth control were used. It probably depends on the couple; some women have more hospitable wombs than others.

    But consider the implications of this. Imagine a couple who has been trying to get pregnant for a while but has had no luck. They’ve seen doctors and verified that the woman is ovulating and the man isn’t sterile. They’ve further eliminated from consideration the other typical barriers to fertilization. Maybe they’re going the IUI route. What does this mean? It means the woman has almost certainly spontaneously aborted a number of fertilized eggs that failed to implant.

    Now, if you’re someone who is passionate about prohibiting hormonal birth control because it might prevent a fertilized egg from implanting, how might you advise this couple? Can you in good conscience suggest that they “keep trying” since doing so will almost surely result in more zygotes failing to implant and perishing? Few would call for them to quit trying “for the sake of the zygotes”. But why? Is it simply pragmatic reasoning, e.g. its okay to sacrifice some zygotes if its in the service of creating a healthy baby, but if its in the context of avoiding pregnancy then it’s totally not okay and might even be murder.

  13. Ian Shaw January 31, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    Buddy, I would say intent has a lot to do with it, regarding your last statement.

    You must also consider that we are fallen, sinful human beings and live in a fallen sinful world. Some people can’t bear children. Some people have great difficulty trying to conceive. A lot of us have things imperfect or wrong with us physically, mentally, etc. (whether from birth or acquired) Are you going to place the same zeal on women who miscarry (regardless of pregnancy duration) as they just spontaneously had an abortion? Cleary, I think you’d have more empathy and mercy towards women (and their husbands) who have dealt with miscarriages.

    • James Stanton January 31, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

      Since you brought intent into the discussion.. what about women who use such contraception because they don’t intend to have children? Is this at all relevant? Perhaps not but there’s a difference between this and visiting an abortion clinic.

      • Barbara Shafer January 31, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

        I think if we’re talking intent, we need to distinguish between intending to prevent conception (which is genuine “birth control”–abstinence to other forms of keeping DNA separate) and intending to prevent maturation of an embryo (which already has the full DNA) and halting its natural course of development, technically abortive. The crux of the issue is creation versus maturation. Pregnancy prevention is different than live birth prevention. Plan B does not prevent conception, but certainly eliminates a live birth.

    • buddyglass January 31, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

      My point is that if causing fertilized eggs to die needlessly is wrong, then its wrong when it happens in the context of trying to conceive just as it is when it happens in the context of trying not to conceive. Let’s say my hypothetical couple decides they’re going to adopt instead. Should they then use non-hormonal methods of birth control, going forward, to prevent the possibility of an egg being fertilized, failing to implant, and perishing? If not, why isn’t that considered reckless endangerment of fertilized eggs?

      For what it’s worth, my wife and I have experienced three miscarriages. It took two rounds of IVF and numerous IUI attempts before that for us to conceive our second child.

      • Kamilla Ludwig January 31, 2014 at 11:24 pm #

        It beggars belief that so many folks cannot comprehend the difference between the result of a deliberate action and a result that is an accident of nature.

        That’s like equating an accidental death due to a car accident cause by an unexpected brake failure and someone who secret plans and carries out a murder.

        Is such a silly claim no one should need to refute it.

        • Chris Ryan February 1, 2014 at 1:03 am #

          Actually, its like someone who gets drunk & then gets behind the wheel. Sure, they don’t intend to kill anyone, but if they do they’re held fully responsible as if they did intend to.

          Ergo, under the theory that life begins at fertilization, anything done that kills those zygotes is murder. You simply cannot have it both ways. Either killing zygotes is murder, or its not. Intent doesn’t really matter. There are a lot of ppl in jail who know that for a fact.

  14. Adam Omelianchuk January 31, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    A few observations:

    1. There are no such things as “fertilized eggs,” because the egg ceases to exist at conception. At that point, a single-celled organism that is distinct from mom and dad exists and yes, it is fully human. What else could it be?

    2. Rachel seems to have been more concerned about the traditional birth control pill and, tangentially, the Plan B pill covered by Obamacare. She was not commenting on religious liberty or the merit of Hobby Lobby’s (and others) case before the court. No doubt she has opinions about these things, but they were not made explicit in her piece.

    3. The pro-life position is large enough to encompass people who think pregnancy begins at implantation, not conception. While this is not my view, it is one that garners support from Christian bioethicists like Gilbert Meilaender, who has written for First Things on many occasions. The reasons for this are the ones Rachel worries about: too many spontaneous deaths of human persons would occur in the phase of a woman’s life where she is sexually active and fertile if the life-at conception model holds (he also cites the problems monozygotic twinning). Every elective abortion occurs after implantation, which he opposes; that puts him squarely in the pro-life category.

    4. The argument against birth control pills like Plan B and the traditional, every-day oral contraceptives (call these the Pills) is not so clearly stated or analyzed. Think of it this way:

    [a] If the Pills could possibly cause abortion, then it is impermissible to use them.
    [b] The Pills could possibly cause abortion.
    [c] Therefore, it is impermissible to use them.

    The scientific dispute concerns [b]. That’s what the CT article is about and that is what is debated by many pro-life physicians. But what about [a]? Is that true? Why would it be? To me, at least, our answer partially depends on how likely such abortions occur. If the risks are high, then [a] is true. But from all accounts, the risks are very low, and the chances of causing abortion are lower than getting into a fatal car accident (Driving with kids in the car could possibly kill them. Should we not do it then?). That doesn’t mean that care should not be exercised. A couple intending to use birth control should also consider the man wearing a condom. The intent of the sex act then would be to bond the partners together while trying to control when they want to have children, and at the same time taking appropriate precautions to avoid the unintended possibility of causing the death a human embryo (it also places the responsibility of birth control on both partners–not just the woman).

    5. This is more than a religious liberty issue. It’s a conscience issue. And it seems right to say that no one should be forced to pay for these things, regardless of their religious persuasion. If they believe abortion is immoral and that these things cause abortions, that should be sufficient to allow freedom not to participate in the plan.

  15. Sophia Eden January 31, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    Pardon me for coming out of a Rip Van Winkle sleep. I don’t remember how I even happened upon this discussion, but I am trying to get my bearings on what Christianity has come to. So, we have a well-known speaker with engagements at various religious colleges and organizations who claims to be “pro-life woman of faith” who makes a blow-by-blow case based on human reasoning without offering Biblical support and gives the benefit of the doubt to non-pro-life views?

    As a pro-life woman of faith, “I am all astonishment” at the following:

    1. She says, “As we discuss contraception, Christians especially must be committed to telling the truth and getting our facts straight, or else we risk losing credibility in the conversation and leading the faithful astray.”

    Yet she very much lost credibility and potentially led the faithful astray by misrepresenting the Christianity Today article http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/may/does-plan-b-cause-abortion.html
    She said, “Another popular rumor is that the so-called “morning after pill,” or Plan B, causes abortion. Christianity Today recently refuted this argument, citing multiple scientific studies that confirm Plan B does not inhibit implantation but instead blocks fertilization.”

    However, Christianity Today does not refute this argument, it presents both sides of the issues including final statements saying, “he still does not recommend Plan B because of its ineffectiveness and the murky knowledge of how it works. In the meantime, Harrison says, doctors are responsible to let their patients know about the possibility that Plan B could abort embryos. ‘As a point of informed consent, it’s only honest to say it’s possible that this may have post-fertilization effects,’ she said. ‘If that matters to you, this is not the contraceptive of choice.'”

    2. She says, “This is obviously an issue in which people of strong faith disagree, so let’s treat one another with respect as we engage, shall we?”

    I assume she thought she was being respectful by describing those with views similar to my own by using words such as “outrageous” “crudely-stated sentiments” “problem of privilege” “infusing…with misinformation and unhelpful assumptions” “shrugging off birth control”. Maybe she ought to attempt her post again with a better effort at engaging with respect.

    3. She says, “So those who oppose coverage of birth control based on their religious or pro-life convictions must take into consideration the fact that lack of coverage may actually lead to more abortions. And we must remember that shrugging off birth control as something people should be able to easily pay for on their own betrays some of our own economic privilege in this conversation.” Also, “When male politicians or pastors speak about women and contraception, they sometimes make generalizations that reflect a lack of experience.”

    Excuse me, but a Christian (male or female) with soul liberty, the priesthood of the believer, and a conscience accountable to God who has religious or pro-life convictions does not need to take anything else into consideration. Our liberty in Christ and the confidence we have in His Word and Holy Spirit to guide us do not need to be shaken by concerns that the Lord can take care of otherwise. Say we are wrong about some contraceptives potentially being abortifacients. If we had rather err on the side of our conscience and Biblical principles, the Lord can take care of other people and their needs apart from our potential error. There is no need to be intolerant of our rights and accusing us of making our decisions based on economic or gender privilege.

    4. She says, “Most women in the U.S. have used a form of oral contraception at some point in their lives. It might be worth asking them why” and “I talked with more and more friends who were convinced oral contraception was immoral. Many of them stopped using birth control altogether. But these rumors were based on misinformation.”

    Why should I ask them why? They can do as they wish, and I can do as I wish, including standing against being forced to be a part of their choice. In a better effort at “getting our facts straight” and not “losing credibility”, rather at least call it “inconclusive information” than misinformation. Give us a little more credit than simply making our choice based on a rumor–like prayer, perhaps, conscience, perhaps, a deep respect for life, perhaps.

    5. She says, “In conclusion, let’s talk about contraception. But let’s talk about it accurately and with our privilege in check.”

    as well as with our attitude in check.

    “Let’s avoid making generalizations about the millions of women and families who say they would benefit from affordable, accessible contraception.”

    as well as avoiding making generalizations about the millions of women and families who say they don’t want a part of making contraception affordable and accessible for others.

    “And when we are blessed with a podium or pulpit, let’s speak about our fellow human beings with love and care and without sloppy attempts to speak for them.” Amen.

    Again, as a pro-life woman of faith, “I am all astonishment.” Where was the fight for religious freedom? Where was the Christian principle to agree to disagree on matters of conscience? Where was the fight for life? In this particular post, she has revealed herself to be a self-proclaimed pro-life woman of faith who neither errs on the side of life nor accurately represents pro-life concerns with regard to Biblical principles. Perhaps a better self-description would be a “pro-choice feminist.”

    Now to awake from my Rip Van Winkle drowsiness, find a list of the conservative religious places she speaks at, and confirm they are aware of her post http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/privilege-and-the-pill

  16. Kamilla Ludwig January 31, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

    Denny,

    Rachel has a well-established pattern of accusing male critics of not respecting/ understanding her while she accuses female critics of hating her. Not anywhere does she substantively engage substantive criticism.

    Don’t you think it’s time we shake the dust off our sandals?

    • Andrew Orlovsky February 2, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

      From reading this article along with several other articles by Rachel Held Evans, it seems she purposely baits conservative evangelicals, but then complains that her views were “misrepresented” every time she gets called out. For instance, she’ll write a piece on homosexuality where you get the feeling that there’s a 99% chance she does not think it is a sin. But she is purposely vague about her actual view and does not actually make the statement that “Homosexuality is not sinful”, therefore, she pounces on anyone who accuses her on abandoning the historical Christian view on sexuality. She has done the same thing on the historicity of the Old Testament.

  17. Ian Shaw January 31, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    Kamilla, or should we take a page out out Matthew 7 and stop throwing pearls to the dogs and hogs of the world, for they will trample on the gift and then turn against you?

  18. Bob Wilson January 31, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    So do conservative Christians now oppose contraception because it might kill–unintentionally–a fertilized egg? Does intent not matter?

    Seriously, I am having trouble understanding how it can be practical to forbid the use of products that might unintentionally kill children in very small numbers.

    The list of such products is huge. For example,

    1) Back yard swimming pools
    2) Guns
    3) Just about any medication if you read all the side effects.

    None of these products are used with the intention of killing children. But when widely distributed, over time. they are statistically certain to kill a small number of children. How are these different from contraception?

  19. Ian Shaw January 31, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    Bob, let’s try to stick with at least the subject remaining on abortion causing birth control or comparible related realm such as abortion. I don’t think your swimming pool in the backyard would apply because no one ever uses the term murder to refer to an accidental child drowning in the pool. The issue of the article deals with birth control being an aborcient, and someone saying it’s acceptable/not equivalent to an abortion.

    My reductio ad absurdum was used to illustrate to Buddy that if you apply the same zealous overtones on a biological level of the life created, he must also to a miscarriage. It wasn’t supposed to start another side discussion.

    • Bob Wilson January 31, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

      That’s the point. Women don’t take birth control intending to kill a fertilized egg. If it happens at all, it’s a very small and unintended occurrence. Yet Dennis calls it “killing children” as if that’s the intended purpose.

  20. Ian Shaw January 31, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    Buddy, I am sorry to hear of your struggles. You have my sincere prayers. I’m not trying to say I have the answers, I just think that something like Plan B is (in my opinion) used as a last ditch effort to preserve any little bit of personal responsibility after making a non-thoughtful action. I believe that as we live in a broken world as broken human beings, we deal with hardships, pain, suffering just as part of our condition. For me, what you and your wife had to endure, is not on the same as someone running for the nearest CVS or Walmart to grab a box of Plan B.

    It’s clear that you and your wife were engaging in activity for childbearing. That’s why God created it (I would also add pleasure between a husband and wife and glorify God as well). Now, this might be way out in left field and feel free to tell me if I am wrong, but in my view having to lose a child via miscarriage would be something horrendous to endure. But I also believe that God is in control of everything and we will not know the reason of “why” for what we have to deal with. We will eventually, but not know. Without getting into a massive can of worms of theology, etc., I will say that losing a child due to natural effects, whether miscarriage, complications, etc. is not the same as a birth control drug that prevents a fertilized egg from implanting on the uterine wall, thus killing/murdering the life. To me, it’s not an apples to apples comparison.

    I don’t care if I’ve got to use the Chewbacca defense, it’s not an equivalent comparison.

  21. Kamilla Ludwig January 31, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    On the contrary, the medical literature has never recognized abortion as *only* a procedure, whether pre or post implantation. That is why there are at least half a dozen terms that I am aware of which modify and designate more precisely what kind of abortion is being discussed.

    • Kamilla Ludwig January 31, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

      Not sure what I did to make my comment appear here. It is in reply to Chris Ryan above.

  22. Andrew Orlovsky January 31, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    Sorry if I come across as crude, but if male privledge was really so evident, why isn’t anyone pushing for health plans to provide free condoms. Many evangelicals that are uncomfortable with hormonal birth control have no issue with barrier methods. Say what you want about the birth control pill, but to suggest that “male privledge” is behind opposition to the contraceptive mandate is simply ludicrous.

    • Jon Charles February 1, 2014 at 1:05 am #

      Male privilege is not prevalent. The government provides more services to women and more health care benefits etc

      Male privilege does not exist in 21st century western culture and feminists use this lie to further their evil Agenda

    • buddyglass February 1, 2014 at 11:05 am #

      Two possible explanations:

      1. Pregnancy is considered to disproportionally impact the woman, ergo its more important for her to have access to birth control since she’s the one most likely to actually use it, whereas the man is mostly interested in getting what he wants “consequences be damned”.

      2. Condoms are available over-the-counter; birth control pills require a prescription (as far as I know). So it’s easier to view the pill as “health care”. If there were a male birth control pill that required a doctor’s prescription then I suspect the healthcare legislation would require insurers to cover it for men.

      If anything, the insistence on hormonal birth control (over condoms) is what smells of male privilege. From a woman’s perspective the condom doesn’t matter. From the man’s perspective it very much does. So who benefits from women having ubiquitous access to hormonal birth control (as opposed to their insisting that their partners use condoms)? Men.

  23. Sophia Eden January 31, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

    To clarify:

    I understand what she was relating from Christianity Today. The problem is that she did not accurately relate the article’s conclusion that research is not totally conclusive. I almost did not recognize the CT article based on her slanted representation of it.

    I did read the original article several times. I was actually relieved to have found Burk’s and First Things’ responses after reading the original post. I almost didn’t recognize the post they were talking about because they seemed so gracious all things considered.

    Healthy debate was inhibited because the original post did not accurately deal with the full scientific aspect, and it did not deal with people’s actual arguments and motives to a large degree.

  24. Kamilla Ludwig February 1, 2014 at 2:08 am #

    I’m sorry you’re having trouble with what should be a simple and obvious distinction.

    The drunk driving fails because you know that driving while drunk inhibits your judgment and coordination, making an accident more likely.

    To make a similar claim regarding pregnancy loss we would have to use the example of a couple acting deliberately in a manner that increases the chances of miscarriage.

    If a couple is not acting deliberately to cause miscarriage or doing something to knowingly increase the risk of miscarriage, they cannot be said to be guilty of murder.

    And yes, in some circumstances, intent is significant and matters very much. It’s called the rule of double effect.

    • buddyglass February 1, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

      “To make a similar claim regarding pregnancy loss we would have to use the example of a couple acting deliberately in a manner that increases the chances of miscarriage. ”

      Such as, for instance, having sex without employing a barrier method. Not using barrier contraception increases the chances of miscarriage. Obviously it also increases the chances of live birth.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Week in Review (1-31-14) | Magnify Christ - January 31, 2014

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  3. When “pro-lifers” make pro-abortion arguments | Eternity Matters - February 9, 2014

    […] She was also wrong about abortions and “morning after” pills: […]

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