Thursday, March 27, 2014

PolitiFact takes the blue pill on Boxer's contraception claim

In the popular 1999 film "The Matrix," the protagonist is offered a choice between a red pill, which will reveal reality as it is, or a blue pill, which will sustain the illusion he has lived for his entire life.

PolitiFact chooses a blue pill in its evaluation of a recent claim from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

Boxer registered her objection to the position taken by Hobby Lobby in its case now before the Supreme Court.  Hobby Lobby argued that the government could not force it to provide birth control methods through its insurance plan that offend its owners' religious beliefs, specifically by preventing pregnancy by thwarting the implantation of a fertilized egg.  The owners of Hobby Lobby view that as a form of abortion.

Boxer, as PolitiFact's fact check noted, registered the objection that Hobby Lobby fails to oppose insurance plans that might help pay for Viagra, and elaborated on her dubiously relevant criticism with the following (via PolitiFact):
"I view this as very much an anti-woman position to take," Boxer said. "And it’s important to note that women take birth control, more than half of them, as a medication for other conditions, so it is an attack on women."
PolitiFact dutifully examined whether more than half of women who take birth control do so as a medication for other conditions.  PolitiFact found that 58 percent of women taking birth control pills identify a non-contraceptive purpose as one of their reasons for using the pill.  But only 14 percent took the pill only for its non-contraceptive benefits.

PolitiFact cited a Guttmacher Institute study of women using hormonal birth control pills.

So PolitiFact rated Boxer's statement "Half True" and missed the point.

Hobby Lobby covered birth control pills before the ACA took effect.

Hobby Lobby balked at the HHS mandate that it provide coverage for "morning after" pills and intrauterine devices as part of its contraception coverage since those methods, particularly the IUD, are associated with preventing implantation of a fertilized egg.

That means that Boxer's reasoning effectively has nothing to do with Hobby Lobby's objection to the contraceptive coverage mandate.  And somehow PolitiFact couldn't be bothered to point out the obvious.  Even if all women taking birth control pills did so to treat cancer, it would have nothing to do with Hobby Lobby's legal challenge to the HHS rule.  To address that point, one would need evidence that morning-after pills and IUDs were prescribed for non-contraceptive purposes.

Boxer's apples-and-oranges argument draws not a peep of protest from PolitiFact.

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