Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Anti-Contraception Activism on the Rise

Via feministing, I discovered this Baltimore Sun piece by Cristina Page, "The Quiet Campaign Against Birth Control." I have to say, I am beyond disturbed to think that there is a growing anti-contraception activism among Republican candidates trying to woo the fundamentalist base. Page writes:

The American public is unaware of the new wave of anti-contraception activism by opponents of abortion, which makes it much easier for politicians to appease the anti-contraception base. Take, for example, President Bush. While he has delivered some big anti-abortion victories for the religious right in the last seven years (Supreme Court Justices John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr., and the so-called partial-birth abortion ban), anti-contraception work has taken up more of his energy. He attempted to strip contraceptive coverage for federal employees; appointed anti-birth control leader David Hager to the FDA panel that approves and expands access to contraceptive methods; chose another contraception opponent to oversee the nation's contraceptive program for the poor; defunded international family-planning programs, and invested unprecedented sums into sex-ed programs that prohibit mention of contraception.

For now, the candidates vying for the Right to Life endorsement are doing their best to avoid directly answering mainstream voters' simple questions on the subject, such as, "Do you support couples having access to safe and effective birth control options, including emergency contraception?" Considering that even 80 percent of self-described "pro-life" voters and a majority of Republican voters strongly support contraception, it's no wonder why.

The "principle" that compels these politicians to jump on the anti-contraception activism bandwagon is the protection of life. Of course, any careful thinker will tell you that you need to define your terms, when does life begin. For this set, life begins the minute a sperm fertilizes an egg, which means that certainly Plan B is out and other contraception is soon to follow, since Plan B acts like other forms of birth control, like the pill. The medical community, however, defines the beginning of life at implantation, which makes plain that birth control is not morally equivalent to an abortion.

Now, I could sit here and quibble about all of these definitions of when life begins and when birth control becomes indistinguishable from abortion, but I have a life. Instead, what I want to shout out to all of these bonehead candidates suggesting that we deprive the citizenry of birth control is that they are ensuring the continuation of poverty and child abuse.

Taking care of a children is difficult work that requires economic stability, wisdom, and psychological equanimity. If you don't possess these things, you are likely to do a really bad job parenting and thereby endanger the children and create future headaches for society. Children badly cared for are not likely to be model citizens, enriching our state. For an insight into the unbelieveably cruel things that bad parents can do to children, read this NYT article, "Creating a Village to Foster a Child."

The religious right has just plain gone bonkers in this country if it wants to go after contraception. When you strip away women's access to safe and legal abortions, teach abstinence to children in sex ed courses, and then try to get rid of access to birth control, then will it be any surprise that you end up with many unwanted, unloved, and therefore abused children? Moreover, you are likely to see more horror stories of women abandoning their newborns or seeking very risky abortions in back alleys.

But, let's remember, these politicians are all men. And, I would venture to guess that none of them have put much of their own time into doing the hard work of rearing children--that's what their womenfolk are for . . .