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Biblical birth control: The surprisingly contraception-friendly Old Testament

When the Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases about the conflict between new healthcare mandates and religion, it sparked a heated conversation on the religious rights of for-profit corporations.

In Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Sebelius and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, the Court will decide whether these corporations can refuse to cover as part of their employee health care plans certain types of contraception, which they allege prevent fertilized eggs from implanting and therefore object to on religious grounds.

As many have already argued, we should not have to live our lives according to certain groups’ interpretations of religious laws. But as a student of ancient religious texts – I run a secular Jewish house of study for culture-makers in New York – I take real issue with these groups' reading of the Bible, too.

The Old Testament, despite some believers’ insistence to the contrary, does not take a hard line against contraception or abortion. The Bible and the 24 other books that make up the Jewish canon make both direct references and thinly veiled allusions to women using contraception.

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