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The Anti-Birth Control Argument Is Getting Limp

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Message Rob Groce

Cardinal Timothy Dolan on April 20's Face The Nation
Cardinal Timothy Dolan on April 20's Face The Nation
(Image by CBS' Face The Nation)
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Hobby Lobby's argument against Obamacare won't be decided by the Supreme Court until later this year, but it's still staying in the news, thanks to the company's supporters.

On April 20's Face The Nation, Cardinal Timothy Dolan defended the company's stance against including prescription birth control in employee health-insurance coverage, which Hobby Lobby says it should be able to deny based on religious views. If women want birth control so badly, "all you have to do is walk into a 7-11" to get it, Dolan of the Catholic Church in New York said, apparently referring to condoms.

This disturbs me personally, and for a couple of reasons. First, I greatly support the Affordable Care Act and all of its terms and offerings, including birth-control coverage by insurance; second, I'm a baptized and confirmed Catholic of a Catholic family that raised me in a dominantly Catholic city. And when combined, these reasons make the hypocrisy of Hobby Lobby's argument, and Cardinal Dolan's support for it, stand out to me even more.

What these moral forces overlook is that a majority of women taking birth control (58 percent) do so for reasons other than, or not exclusively for, pregnancy prevention.

Just like antidepressants are also prescribed to help people quit smoking, and anticonvulsants are also used to treat bipolar disorder, so too is birth-control medication used for alternate purposes -- menstrual pain, menorrhagia, anemia, endometriosis, migraine headaches, and many other reasons, even for acne treatment. And, again, a majority of women using birth control do so for these other purposes. Hobby Lobby's church-supported argument against it, then, would leave these women without needed medication for many different medical problems. How moral is that?

Even worse, despite its argument against birth control, the cardinal's Catholic Church supports insurance coverage for prescription drugs that aid men with erectile dysfunction. It's different, the church says, because Viagra, Cialis, and other ED medications can aid procreation for the conception of life. And Hobby Lobby apparently supports those medicines, which are covered by health-insurance plans, and which the company has made no statement against.

But they're wrong in this case, too, overlooking three key points that defy their argument:

         A huge majority (90 percent) of the cases of ED occur to men who are in their 50s.

         Menopause typically occurs to women between 45 and 55 years of age.

         The average age difference between married couples in the U.S. is only 2.3 years.

It's a provable fact, then, that husbands and wives seem to enter the same circumstance at the same time. He can't get it up, but she can't get knocked up. (And even if she can, a man can still ejaculate sperm without an erection.)

So what, then, Cardinal Dolan and Hobby Lobby, is the point in supporting ED medications?

Unless the church and Hobby Lobby support men in their mid-50s having extramarital affairs, or dumping their wives for younger brides, they have no valid argument.

And their argument against prescription birth control, which has many other purposes for which it's dominantly used, is invalid, as well. 

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A progressive political insider (and meddler) in the red state of South Carolina, Rob Groce operates his own blog, ROBservations (
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