HHS Birth Control Mandate and Religious Liberty
The recent decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandates that nearly all private health plans, including those of religious employers, must provide all prescribed birth control drugs and devices for women free of charge.
"Freedom of religion" extends beyond worship in churches. We cannot force our religious beliefs on others, but neither should the government expect us to act contrary to our religious beliefs. Jesus bids us, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's’ (Mark 12:17). We are to pray for and support our government wherever and whenever we can, but our consciences and lives belong to God.
While Christians are called to obey political authorities (Romans 13:1-7), when human authority violates God’s will, Christians are bound to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:28-29). The Lutheran doctrine of the two kingdoms does not promote quietism, but affirms that civil government is to be concerned with things other than the gospel and should not exercise its authority in the church (CA XXVIII.11-12), and commands the Christian to use political laws and public redress for the benefit of temporal life (Ap XVI).
It is important, however, to remember as Christians that God does not guarantee us religious freedom in this broken world. In fact, it has been a common "alien work" of God throughout history to allow religious persecution to draw us closer to Him. Christianity has often flourished the most during times when the Church has faced her greatest persecutions.
Our consciences belong to God and cannot be taken captive. They can jail us and even kill us, but they cannot take Christ from us or force us to act against our consciences.
Few people realize that this mandate is not about "contraception." This government mandate requires that nearly all private health plans, including those of religious employers, must provide all prescribed birth control drugs and devices for women free of charge. What most people do not know is that all of these currently available prescribed birth control drugs and devices for women can act in a way that causes the death of the unborn through silent abortions.
So, how can the government claim that abortion-causing drugs are not included in this mandate? Many people define "conception" as implantation rather than fertilization, since "pregnancy" is commonly identified as the point in time when a test detects the hormones which signal implantation. 
However, even providing non-abortifacient "contraception" would still violate the consciences of religious people of many faiths. This includes not only Roman Catholics, but many other Christians who retain the teaching that all churches shared until just a few decades ago, that preventing conception violates the divine ordinance to "be fruitful and multiply." At least until 1959, the majority of LCMS pastors and seminary professors did not deviate from this teaching that it is a faithless act to refuse the blessing of a child. 
To understand that obeying this mandate also would violate the religious consciences of those who have no objection to contraception, it is important to first understand the distinction between "contraception" and "birth control." "Contra-ception" works "against conception." According to this proper definition, contraception only prevents the union of an egg and a sperm. This process is known scientifically as "fertilization".  "Birth control" includes methods that not only work as contraceptives, but which can also cause the death of a conceived human being. Many methods of "birth control" are, therefore, improperly referred to by the general public and many doctors as "contraception."
This distinction makes it clear that, contrary to the language used in the government mandate, this is not simply about religious employers being forced to provide free "contraception" - although that would still violate the religious freedom of many people. The broader concern to all religious persons who are pro-life is the fact that ALL of the currently available prescribed birth control drugs and devices for women are also abortifacient. In other words they all can also act by causing the death of the unborn through a backup mechanism which causes a silent abortion. 
Many people are unaware that birth control pills, injections, implants, and IUDs do not only work to prevent conception. As a backup mechanism, all of these methods can also work after conception to prevent the implantation of an embryo, causing a "silent abortion." One of the newest drugs called "Ella" can also destroy the placenta of a developing fetus in the womb, like the "abortion pill" ru486.
CONTRACEPTION VS. BIRTH CONTROL
Do not let the language fool you. These methods are not just "contraceptive." A general rule of thumb to help you remember is that all "contraception" (birth control) drugs and IUDs are actually abortifacient methods of birth control. If we were to use terms with their literal meanings, contraception = prevention of life before it is conceived, and birth control = the taking of life before birth. Unfortunately, people have come to use these terms interchangeably.
Here we are using the terms in their literal sense. But don't let the language of the mandate or the common language used in the media fool you. This mandate expects religious employers to provide all prescribed birth control drugs and devices for women - all of which can cause abortion.
Pro-life Christians who confess that life begins at conception are, therefore, also compelled to confess that these drugs and procedures violate the commandment of God: "You shall not murder."
WHAT THEN DO WE DO?
Oppose this government mandate and urge all who value religious freedom to contact their elected representatives to urge them to reverse this government action. Treasure the freedom to put our faith into action in the public square while we still have it and, in response to Christ’s call, demonstrate His mercy through our love and compassion for all people. And show this love and compassion for the unborn by not being afraid to speak up about the abortifacient nature of all the currently available prescribed birth control drugs and devices for women. Pray for your government representatives and leaders, for doctors and pastors, for your friends and enemies, and for the unborn.
Most of all, remember that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. They can jail us and even kill us, but our consciences will always remain free as we continue to profess before the world the joyful good news that Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary, suffered and died on the cross and rose again from the dead on the third day, so that all, believing in Him have forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
 Read Semantics Don’t Change Truth: The social motivations behind new definitions.
 See Genesis 1:28 and 38:9-10, etc.. To learn more about the history and reasons behind this recent change in belief, read Godly Seed - a book published late last year by prominent historian Dr. Allan Carlson; and Birth Control and the Lutherans: The Missouri Synod as a Case Study by Alan Graebner in the Journal of Social History Vol. 2, No. 4 (Summer, 1969), pp. 303-332; and further resources available at the Lutherans and Procreation blog. There are also many Lutherans who still haven't ever deviated from this teaching, and a growing number of Lutherans from the LCMS, ELS, and WELS returning to this historic teaching. There is a group of almost two-hundred like-minded Lutherans, mostly pastors and their wives, who support each other on a discussion group called "Quiverfull Lutherans." If you agree and would like to be a part of that group, please contact ehtoothdoctor
 This includes all birth control drugs (preparations commonly known as "the Pill", hormone patches, implants, and injections, and so-called "morning after pills" (such as Plan B and Ella), and all intrauterine devices (copper and hormone IUDs). Below is a list of currently prescribed birth control drugs and devices for women and the FDA mandated product information statements which clearly point out their abortifacient nature. We are in the process of updating this to include all the newest formulations, and I will post a new version when we have completed the update. Keep in mind that drug companies are still coming up with new drugs and devices. If the formulations are similar to the ones on this list, the same statements apply. If they are entirely new drugs or devices, read the package insert and/or diligently research the modes of action before ever using them.
(Nota Bene: A few of the phrases above are borrowed from writings on this subject by Pastor Gifford Grobien, Pastor Roger James, and President Matthew Harrison. Most of the writing is my own, but it became quite difficult with all the writing and editing I've done on this and other statements on the issue to remember exactly what pieces of the puzzle came from where. It would also be very cumbersome to have footnotes for such citations all over the place, adding to the confusion of the whole issue. I know Pr. Grobien doesn't mind, and I don't expect President Harrison or my own pastor will either. I know we're all simply interested in the truth getting out on all this, so everyone else please feel free to borrow whatever you like from what I have written as well. No attributions necessary.)
Physicians' Desk Reference, 62nd ed. (Montvale, NJ: Thompson Healthcare, 2007),
a standard compilation of the FDA-required labels for over 4,000 approved drugs.
Combination Oral Contraception (COC) Pills [also known as “Oral Contraception Pills” (OCP), all of which are commonly referred to as “The Pill”]
“Combination oral contraceptives act by suppression of gonadotropins. Although the primary mechanism of this action is inhibition of ovulation, other alterations include changes in the cervical mucus (which increase the difficulty of sperm entering into the uterus) and the endometrium (which reduce the likelihood of implantation)” (repeated at pp. 777 [Yasmin], 785 [Yaz], 1046 [Mircette], 1057 [Seasonique], 2402 [Ortho Cyclen and Ortho Tri-Cyclen], 2411 [Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo], and 3367 [Lybrel]).
Brand Name (Manufacturer), Progestational Component, Estrogenic Component
Ortho Cyclen (Ortho), 0.250 mg norgestimate, 0.035 mg ethinyl estradiol
Ortho Tri-Cyclen (Ortho), 0.18 mg norgestimate, 0.035 mg ethinyl estradiol
Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo (Ortho), 0.180 mg norgestimate, 0.025 mg ethinyl estradiol
Lybrel (Wyeth), 90 mcg levonorgestrel, 20 mcg ethinyl estradiol
Mircette (Duramed), 0.15 mg desogestrel x 20, 0.02 mg ethinyl estradiol x 20, 0.01 mg ethinyl estradiol x 5
Seasonique (Duramed), 0.15 mg levonorgestrel, 0.03 mg ethinyl estradiol
Yaz (Bayer), 3 mg drospirenone, 0.020 mg ethinyl estradiol
Yazmin (Bayer), 3 mg drospirenone x 21, 0.030 mg ethinyl estradiol x 21
“Although the primary mechanism of this action is inhibition of ovulation, other alterations include changes in the cervical mucus (which increase the difficulty of sperm entering into the uterus) and the endometrium (which reduce the likelihood of implantation)” (p. 2390).
Ortho Evra (Ortho), 6.00 mg norelgestromin, 0.75 mg ethinyl estradiol
Progestin-Only Pills (POP) (also known as the “mini-pill”)
“Ortho Micronor® progestin-only contraception prevents conception by suppressing ovulation in approximately half of users, thickening the cervical mucus to inhibit sperm penetration, lowering the midcycle LH and FSH peaks, slowing the movement of the ovum through the fallopian tube, and altering the endometrium” (p. 2399). The “failure rate” (i.e., on-pill sustained pregnancy rate) is 0.5% in perfect use vs. “close to 5%” in typical use (p. 2399). Of these pregnancies, “up to 10%” are ectopic (p. 2400).
Ortho Micronor (Ortho) 0.35 mg norethidrone
Emergency Contraception Pills (ECP)
“Plan B® is believed to act as an emergency contraceptive principally by preventing ovulation or fertilization (by altering tubal transport of sperm and/or ova). In addition, it may inhibit implantation (by altering the endometrium). It is not effective once the process of implantation has begun” (p. 1056).
“When taken immediately before ovulation is to occur, Ella postpones follicular rupture. The likely primary mechanism of action of ulipristal acetate for emergency contraception is therefore inhibition or delay of ovulation; however, alterations to the endometrium that may affect implantation may also contribute to efficacy.” (08/2010 FDA approved labeling)
Brand Name (Manufacturer), Progestational Component
Plan B One Step (Duramed), 0.75 mg levonorgestrel
Next Choice, 0.75 mg levonorgestrel
Brand Name (Manufacturer), Progesterone agonist/antagonist
Ella (Watson Pharma), 30 mg ulipristal acetate
Note: Ella, Plan B One-Step, Next Choice and generic Levonorgestrel Tablets are the only dedicated product specifically marketed for emergency contraception. However, Aviane, Cryselle, Enpresse, Jolessa, Lessina, Levora, Lo/Ovral, LoSeasonique, Low-Ogestrel, Lutera, Lybrel, Nordette, Ogestrel, Portia, Quasense, Seasonale, Seasonique, Sronyx and Trivora have been declared safe and effective for use as ECPs by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Plan B One-Step and Next Choice are available over-the counter to women and men aged 17 and older. You can buy these pills by prescription if you are younger. Ella is available by prescription only.
Note: Important information on the deadly effects of “Ella” on the placenta of a developing fetus: http://www.frcblog.com/tag/donna-harrison/
Donna Harrison, MD, is a member of Emmaus Lutheran Church (LCMS) in South Bend, Indiana. She is an OB-GYN and the current president of the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians. Read her scientific remarks at the FDA hearing on Ella here: http://www.frcblog.com/2010/06/3487/
“Depo Provera … inhibits the secretion of gonadotropins, which prevents follicular maturation and ovulation and causes endometrial thinning. These actions produce its contraceptive effect” (p. 2612).
Depo Provera (Pharmacia; Upjohn), 104 mg/0.65mL medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA)
Intrauterine Devices (IUD)
“The contraceptive effectiveness of ParaGard is enhanced by copper continuously released into the uterine cavity. Possible mechanism(s) by which copper enhances contraceptive efficacy include interference with sperm transport or fertilization, and prevention of implantation” (p. 1052).
“The local mechanism by which continuously released levonorgestrel enhances contraceptive effectiveness has not been conclusively demonstrated. Studies of MIRENA prototypes have suggested several mechanisms that prevent pregnancy [i.e., prevent “clinical pregnancy,” which is not said to be established until implantation in the uterus]: thickening of cervical mucus preventing passage of sperm into the uterus, inhibition of sperm capacitation or survival, and alteration of the endometrium. … MIRENA has mainly local progestogenic effects in the uterine cavity. Morphological changes of the endometrium are observed, including stromal pseudodecidualization [endometrial thinning], glandular atrophy, a leucocytic infiltration and a decrease in glandular and stromal mitosis” (p. 765).
ParaGard Copper T380A IUD, 176 mg copper wire coiled around a polyethylene T-frame
Mirena IUD (Bayer), levonorgestrel (progestational component), released at 20 mcg/day from a polyethylene T-frame