Cathi Herrod’s law firm spreads lies about birth control in federal suit

21 Jul 2014 10:49 pm
Posted by: Donna

Anti-choicers don’t have the truth or popular opinion on their side where birth control is concerned but that has not stopped the movement in its unrelenting quest to strip women of access to it. So they have devised a three part strategy to fool the public:

1. They have claimed repeatedly that effective forms of hormonal contraception used by women (IUDs, morning after pills, and even regular pills) are really “abortions” due to the slight theoretical possibility that such methods might interfere with a fertilized egg implanting on the wall of the uterus. I have yet to have an anti-choicer explain to me exactly how often they think an IUD or birth control pill snuffs out a fertilized egg* as opposed to working the way that the current scientific consensus holds that they do – by blocking fertilization. But scientific evidence is largely irrelevant to the anti-contraception crusaders.

2. They put the entire anti-contraception effort under the rubric of “religion”, so that any opposition to their attacks on birth control access will be painted as persecution of religious people. Additionally, anti-choicers successfully convinced the Supreme Court to agree that the mere belief on the part of religious employers that certain forms of contraception are “abortifacients” was sufficient to classify them as such in the Hobby Lobby case. Not that it mattered, ultimately, since the actual decision applied to all forms of contraception. Which neatly seques into the third component:

3. They have quietly included all forms of contraception in their legal efforts while loudly repeating the “only 4 kinds!” “abortificients!” canard at every opportunity. It is truly a perfect exemplar of the old saw about a lie getting halfway around the world before the truth gets its pants on. I have lost count of how many times I’ve had to explain, to what I perceive to be well-meaning people, what the facts are. No, there is no such thing as an “abortifacient” form of contraception and, no, we are not merely talking about “four kinds”, even if that were the case.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, the Scottsdale-based legal organization with close ties to Cathi Herrod’s religious lobbying group Center for Arizona Policy, is representing Sara Hellwege, a Florida nurse-midwife who claims she was denied an employment opportunity with Tampa Family Health Centers. Tampa Family is a Title X facility, which means it receives federal funds to provide a number of medical services to patients, including family planning. They decided not to interview Hellwege after she told them in an email exchange that she would not prescribe “non-barrier” contraception due to her religious views.

Per Alliance:

The lawsuit, Hellwege v. Tampa Family Health Centers, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, explains that “TFHC’s refusal to consider Ms. Hellwege’s application for employment on the basis of her religious beliefs and association with the pro-life group AAPLOG violates multiple federal laws.”

The lawsuit also explains that “Florida law shall not require ‘any person to participate in the termination of a pregnancy, nor shall…any person be liable for such refusal.’” Moreover, “Ms. Hellwege has the right to refuse to prescribe abortifacient contraceptives where such actions violate her religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

Hellwege wants to refuse to supply a number of contraceptives outside of the IUDs and morning after pills that Hobby Lobby did. Meaning no regular birth control pills of any kind, Depo Provera shot, or patch for you if you are her patient. Very few people outside of the most zealous anti-choicers believe that any of those methods affect a fertilized egg at all. But, again, SCOTUS set the stage for religious belief trumping science and the “abortifacients” lie now has such traction that even a “stridently, vocally pro-choice” prominent blogger Frances Locke sides with Hellwege:

Now, I am as liberal as they come, but the way certain liberal media sources are reporting on this case is reprehensible. Hellwege isn’t some entitled pro-life drama queen insisting on being hired for a job she refuses to do. Hellwege isn’t asking to be hired at all, only considered. And it’s clear to me from this chain of emails that if she wasn’t affiliated with a religious group, she most likely would have been considered. Not only that, but Hellwege seemed more than willing to compromise with this facility to perform the job required. Unlike what many media sources have reported, Hellwege never refused to prescribe ALL forms of birth control, merely anything that may lead to abortion. She is also willing to counsel patients on ALL forms of BC, including abortifacients.

Five will get you ten that Sara Hellwege, member of American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), did not just innocently and coincidentally apply for that position, but never mind that for now. It’s definitely noteworthy that Tampa Family Health is a private (albeit nonprofit) company and that Hellwege is asserting her right as a potential employee to impose her religion on her boss. I pointed out during the SB1062 debate that one of the lesser-noticed reasons the Arizona business community squelched the bill was out of fear of their own liability with disgruntled religious employees (who happen to hold religious views favored by the likes of John Roberts and Antonin Scalia). Hate to break it to you, my libertarian friends, but this has always been much less about property and business owners’ rights than you think it has.

*There was one women who told me that “one in a hundred is too many!”, referring to thwarted implantations of fertilized eggs, therefore birth control pills and IUDs are “abortion”. Which makes about as much sense as claiming that every time someone goes for a drive they are “getting into a car accident” based on the slight statistical risk of that happening. Ban driving!


  1. Comment by Azreb on July 22, 2014 11:42 am

    There is only one group of voters that is more silent than the mythical “Latino vote” and that is the women voters. The religious freaks attack your rights day after day and all around me I only hear silence.

  2. Comment by Andrew Clayton on July 22, 2014 12:56 pm

    You lie regularly around here, and nobody complains.

    Now go make me a sandwich.

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