The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and several other medical groups that support the use of emergency contraceptives have challenged Hobby Lobby Store's Inc.'s claim that the drugs are a form of abortion.
The groups moved Thursday to file a friend of the court brief in Hobby Lobby's court battle over a portion of the Affordable Care Act that requires the company to cover the cost of emergency contraceptives for its workers through its employee health plan.
Hobby Lobby argues that the drugs are a type of abortion and that covering the cost of the drugs for its employees would violate the Christian religious beliefs of CEO David Green and his family.
The contraceptives Hobby Lobby takes issue with include Ella and Plan B, commonly known as the week-after and morning-after pills, as well as some types of IUDs.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a nonprofit that claims to represent about 90 percent of all board-certified obstetricians and gynecologists practicing in the United States, filed the brief along with seven other women's health groups and three academics including James Trussell, senior fellow for the reproductive health advocacy group, the Guttmacher Institute.
The groups moved to get involved in Hobby Lobby's lawsuit to dispel myths about emergency contraceptives, the brief said. Several anti-abortion and conservative groups have also filed friend of the court briefs in the case in support of the company's position.
“This court has already been provided with considerable misinformation concerning the supposed ‘life-ending' effects of emergency contraception,” the groups said in a 26-page legal filing. “Likewise, the public discourse on (emergency contraceptives) is infused with misleading rhetoric stemming from political or religious views.”
Research shows evidence that emergency contraceptives work by preventing ovulation, the groups said in the brief.
“The court's decision in this case should, consistent with the scientific data, ensure this proper distinction between contraceptives and abortifacients,” the brief said.
Although the drugs can work by blocking ovulation, federal law specifies the emergency contraceptives can also sometimes work by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting into the womb, said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby in its court case.
“This brief completely leaves out what the Green family believes happens at conception,” Duncan said. “The Greens believe that the use of these drugs involves killing a human life.”
Groups that joined in the brief include: The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, which acts as the educational arm of Planned Parenthood; Physicians for Reproductive Health; the American Society of Reproductive Medicine; Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine; American Medical Women's Association and the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health.
The company's lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is pending at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
Hobby Lobby has said it faces fines of up to $1.3 million a day for failing to comply with the health care law if it loses its lawsuit.