Skip to main content

The Supreme Court and Fox News Channel: Partners in Stupid

Fox News Channel and the conservative entertainment complex continued throughout the day Monday to repeat the lie that Hobby Lobby and other small businesses with religious owners were being forced by evil Obama to pay for abortion pills.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

The Supreme Court decision in Burwell v Hobby Lobby Stores continues to confound me. It's difficult to get beyond the basic dumbness of the conservative justices who utterly failed to recognize that the Affordable Care Act absolutely does not mandate that corporations buy employee insurance policies featuring abortion-inducing or abortifacient pills such as RU486. The law only mandates that employees cover emergency contraception that either prevents ovulation or fertilization or both -- not implantation of a fertilized egg, which can be defined as an abortion.

And yet, predictably, Fox News Channel and the conservative entertainment complex (credit as always to David Frum) continued throughout the day Monday to repeat the lie that Hobby Lobby and other small businesses with religious owners were being forced by evil Obama to pay for employee health insurance plans that cover abortion pills (which, by the way, are perfectly legal however stigmatized).

As we reported yesterday, Karl Rove said:

“It was not about contraception. [Hobby Lobby] accepted the contraception that was included in the HHS mandate. What they objected to were three drugs, and one device that were designed to end a pregnancy — to terminate a pregnancy. Morning after pills, for example.”

Erick Erickson on Twitter:

For what it's worth, Erickson posted a few other tweets (here, here and here) in which he basically indicted women who uses birth control covered by insurance as idiots, freeloaders and sluts.

And then there was Fox News' The Five which evidently just yesterday learned the word "abortifacient," and proceeded to incorrectly over-use it in the context of the ACA:

Kimberly Guilfoyle: "So here [the decision] is just dealing with Greg's favorite word, abortifacients, and whether or not those can be covered."

Eric Bolling: "Basically the Obamacare theory is abortion pills are preventative medicine, post -- and when I say abortion pills I mean the abortifacients, right? The four [emergency contraceptive meds] this is where Hobby Lobby said we're okay with the 16 [contraceptives], we provide 16, but the four that, uh, uh, would actually abort a fetus after it's been brought into life. They said they had a problem with those. So they said those abortifacients, Obamacare calls those preventative."

Bolling is a fantastically irritating example of someone who doesn't know what the crap he's talking about. First of all, and to repeat: Obamacare doesn't cover abortifacients, nor does it consider such pills to be preventative medicine. He's just making that up.

Secondly, a fertilized egg doesn't become a "fetus" until after three months of development. A fertilized egg is known as a zygote. This might be nitpicky but it's like Bolling referring to the Speaker of the House as the President of the United States. While the Speaker is, according to the 25th Amendment, in line to become president in the order of succession, he or she isn't the president until sworn in as the president. Put another way: if you're discussing something on television as an expert, and you refer to a zygote as a fetus, clearly you don't have a blessed clue about this topic and should probably shut the hell up. Lastly, "brought into life?" This is the host of the most popular show on Fox News? Sheesh.

And then on The O'Reilly Factor, a very caffeinated Megyn Kelly continued the same lie about Obamacare:

Kelly: "So it's a lot of corporations that could be effected, but only those that feel strongly about their religious beliefs. Those folks aren't going to have to provide abortion-related drugs. It's drugs that terminate an already-fertilized egg, that's the only out of the 20 birth control drugs that are available, they still have to cover 16. We don't want to fund those forms of birth control that end a fertilized egg!"

Wow, I thought Kelly was a born again liberal based on her allegedly hardball interview with Dick Cheney. I guess not, huh. Anyway, there it is again. Obamacare, she said, mandates Hobby Lobby to pay for drugs that "terminate an already-fertilized egg." Kelly joins a long roster of liars.

How do we know they're all lying?

1) The government provides subsidies for some small businesses to help pay for their employee insurance plans, but the Hyde Amendment forbids the government from financing any and all abortions. So if the government mandated abortion coverage, it would be unable to subsidize any insurance plans. But the government doesn't consider any of the contraceptive pills and devices to be abortifacients, therefore the mandate and the subsidies don't conflict with each other.

2) Why doesn't the government consider these contraceptives to be abortifacients? Because medical experts (not including Eric Bolling) agree that emergency contraception meds mandated by the ACA aren't abortion-inducing.

International Federation Of Gynecology Obstetrics:

Two studies have estimated effectiveness of [emergency contraceptive pills] by confirming the cycle day by hormonal analysis (other studies used women's self-reported cycle date). In these studies, no pregnancies occurred in the women who took ECPs before ovulation while pregnancies occurred only in women who took ECPs on or after the day of ovulation, providing evidence that ECPs were unable to prevent implantation.

The FDA's former women's health assistant commissioner on NPR:

The constant references to Plan B and Ella as abortion-causing pills frustrates, a professor of health policy at George Washington University and a former assistant commissioner for women's health at the FDA.

"It is not only factually incorrect, it is downright misleading. These products are not abortifacients," she says. "And their only connection to abortion is that they can prevent the need for one."

That last line is particularly salient: the contraceptives mandated by the ACA prevent the need for abortions. The question, then, has to be: why are Hobby Lobby, Erick Erickson and Fox News Channel so vocally against these meds and devices, which prevent abortions?

And, because why the hell not, here's Catholic theologian and sexual ethicist Jamie L. Manson writing for the National Catholic Reporter:

The reality is that there is overwhelming scientific evidence that the IUD and Plan B work only as contraceptives. Since Ella is new to the market, it has not been studied as extensively. But as of now, there is no scientific proof that Ella acts as an abortifacient, either.

There is only one drug approved to induce abortion. It is called RU-486 (mifepristone) and is not on the FDA's list of approved contraception. It is available only by prescription and no employer is forced to pay for it as part of an employee health plan.

In summary: everything overheard on this matter via Fox News Channel and other similar circles is wrong, and not just in an "I Disagree With Those Guys" wrong, but brutally, egregiously wrong.

Where are we as a nation, when 55 percent of one-third of the U.S. government agrees with the yammering non-expert view of Fox News Channel rather than medical experts in the fields of reproductive biology, medicine and even theology? Clearly we're a nation where the dumber factions are too often allowed to commandeer the debate and skew policymaking into the realms of the absurd and the dangerous, based on nothing but the slack-jawed gibberish of trolls and ignoramuses like Erickson and Bolling -- not to mention, in this case, Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts and Kennedy, who each appear to be locked into the same level of doofishness on this very delicate and vitally important matter.