Cover Story

Conscience at the court

"Conscience at the court" Continued...

Issue: "What price conscience?," April 19, 2014

Conestoga’s Hahn family will be praying as they wait. “It is very hard to be in the national spotlight,” said Anthony Hahn in our email interview. Victory at the high court would mean a return to the life he longs to lead: “We want to continue to live our lives in a quiet and peaceable manner that glorifies God away from media attention.”

Corporate Europe

As Justice Alito’s question about Danish law indicated, not many would associate high conscience protections with European laws. But one strange amicus brief on behalf of the families leading up to the case came from a number of international law schools, mostly in Europe, arguing that European constitutional courts had recognized that corporations have human rights.

In one example, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court protected a limited-liability company operating a hospital from government regulation on religious grounds. The German court wrote about the corporation: “The practice of religion encompasses not only the sphere of faith and religious service, but also the freedom to develop and be effective in the world, as its religious and social task requires.” The same court later ruled in favor of a Muslim butcher on religious grounds.

The brief argues that Europe’s example of conscience protections shows that the U.S. government’s contraceptive mandate is not the “least restrictive means” of accomplishing its healthcare goals. —E.B.

Intra-feminist fight

Holly Grigg-Spall
Handout photo
Holly Grigg-Spall

While the Hobby Lobby case draws attention to evangelicals and Catholics who oppose abortifacients or contraceptives on moral grounds, a surprising secular feminist movement against hormonal birth control is gaining momentum. In Sweetening the Pill: Or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control, published last October, Holly Grigg-Spall argues Western society has pushed birth control pills on women in the name of feminism with little thought to health consequences.

She paints the suppression of women’s natural cycles as a form of left-wing misogyny meant to make women available for regular sex and office work. She blames the contraceptive pill Yasmin for harming her mental health, and notes how it can cause blood clots and dangerously elevate potassium.

Carol Downer, a longtime pro-abortion activist, has endorsed the book. “I am not anti-contraception, pro-life, or a frigid man-hater,” Grigg-Spall wrote as a disclaimer. “I use condoms, spermicide, and the fertility awareness method. I am a feminist.” Her feminist critique of the pill is provoking bitter backlash from other feminists: One reviewer at the website Slate panned Sweetening the Pill as “poorly researched, shoddily argued, and fundamentally incoherent,” and insisted the health risks of hormonal birth control (the FDA says they include a small risk of stroke, heart attack, and breast cancer) were worth “the benefits of reliable, convenient, female-controlled contraception and the spontaneous sex life.”

The popularity of Grigg-Spall’s book seems linked with broader interest in natural childbirth. Early this year former talk show host Ricki Lake, who has produced documentaries promoting home births and breastfeeding, optioned the rights to turn Sweetening the Pill into a documentary.—Daniel James Devine

Emily Belz
Emily Belz

Emily, who has covered everything from political infighting to pet salons for The Indianapolis Star, The Hill, and the New York Daily News, reports for WORLD from New York City. Follow Emily on Twitter @emlybelz.

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