Pills and Politics

Via Media Matters, we find that Leslie Hanks, vice president of Colorado Right to Life, is worried about the addictive properties of birth control pills.

“Let’s face it, they’re [Planned Parenthood] in the business to kill babies for profit,” she said. “First and foremost, they get young girls hooked on their birth control pills, which don’t work,” Hanks said.

Media Matters points out that birth control pills do work to prevent conception pretty reliably; “oral contraceptives work with 92 percent efficacy for the first year of ‘[t]ypical [u]se’ and are 99.7 percent effective with ‘[p]erfect [u]se,” MM says. So if Planned Parenthood is encouraging people to use contraceptives, which it does, then it really isn’t primarily “in the business” of abortion, is it?

Further, “Planned Parenthood® Federation of America, Inc. is a tax-exempt corporation under Internal Revenue Service code section 501(c)(3) and is not a private foundation. (Tax ID #13-1644147) Contributions are tax deductible,” their web site says. Strictly speaking, they are not “in the business” for profit at all. I believe it operates mostly on donations and endowments.

Regarding the abortion question, Eleanor Clift argues that Democrats should refocus the debate on birth control.

Family planning is an issue Republicans generally like to avoid because it threatens the coalition between economic conservatives and the religious right. Business types tend to be live-and-let-live, while a segment of social conservatives oppose birth control with almost the same fervor they oppose abortion. Family planning is such an under-the-radar issue for Republicans that Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, says the Right to Life organization doesn’t advertise a birth-control position. “But you find in that movement—and they’ve become much more assertive about it—if you use birth control, you are stopping a life and that’s not acceptable,” she says. Listen to right-wing talk radio and you’ll hear how making birth control available or teaching sex-ed in public schools leads to sex. That’s an argument equivalent to believing that putting air bags in cars causes accidents, says Keenan.

The American public may be ambivalent about abortion, but I’m sure a whopping majority approve of birth control as an alternative. Cristina Page pointed out recently that there’s a strong, under-the-radar anti-contraceptive movement. Further, she says elsewhere, pro-choice politicians would do well to make contraception an issue.

Americans, pro-life and pro-choice, support contraception particularly because its the only proven way to reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion. (Only 11 percent of sexually active women don’t use contraception and from this 11 percent comes 50 percent of the nation’s abortions.) But very few voters are aware that not one pro-life organization in the United States supports contraception. Instead, pro-life groups lead campaigns against contraception. Ninety-one percent of the American public strongly favors contraception. When pro-choice presidential candidates make the discussion about prevention, contraception and results, they’ll win. No less than 80 percent of self-described pro-life voters strongly support contraception too.

The irony of the so-called (imagine my voice dripping with contempt) “right to life” position is that passing laws that ban abortions doesn’t stop abortions. This can be proved with solid empirical evidence; many nations that outlaw abortions have higher rates of abortion than nations with more liberal abortion laws. The one factor that, reliably, does lower abortion rates is access to and use of contraceptives. It is well documented that increasing the use of contraceptives correlates to lowering the rate of abortions within a population. You can’t say the same about passing laws prohibiting abortion.

You’ll never persuade the thick-headed Leslie Hanks of this, of course, but I think most Americans really don’t want the Morality Police to take away their contraceptives.

See also Susie at Suburban Guerrilla.

18 thoughts on “Pills and Politics

  1. Why is it that these groups want to stop women from taking oral contraceptives but I don’t see them trying to boycott condom sales to men.

  2. “First and foremost, they get young girls hooked on their birth control pills, which don’t work”

    Really?! I guess it was sheer dumb luck that I never got pregnant while on the Pill! And the same for the other tens of millions of women who’ve never gotten pregnant while on the Pill! Maybe it works by the placebo effect?

  3. Ironranger — I’d hazard a guess that they want oral contraceptives (or any contraceptive agent) banned because such agents allow women to have choice and power over their own bodies and lives. (We might get away with having fun and sex and not “paying a price” for being sluts.) From a different perspective, they might not see condoms as a serious contraceptive threat/agent (assuming men don’t want to use them); condoms also have a use in protecting men from disease (spread by those awful, terrible slut women). They want to keep this aspect of condom use as quiet as possible, I guess, because again, women might have fun and not pay a price for having fun and sex.

    When I read this post earlier today I wanted to say something about Hanks but couldn’t find the words (of anger, disgust, whatever) to describe my reaction and thoughts. Let’s leave it at Leslie Hanks is so full of bs, it ain’t funny. I agree that contraceptives is the next big thing the wingnuts are going to go after and that it’s been a hidden item on their agenda for years.

  4. Such hypocrisy. You can just bet all those conservatives who nod their heads wisely that young women must be protected from the evils of contraceptives would stutter & stammer if it was proposed to that condoms be banned.
    All those purity balls with dad & daughter..why don’t they have mother/son purity balls?
    Whether it’s contraception or abortion, I very much doubt they all practice what they preach.
    I, too, have wondered why Democrats don’t talk about this anti-contraceptive agenda. They really should be putting the Republicans on the hot seat.

  5. It’s fun to imagine what Kate Hepburn, that stalwart PP supporter, would say in her flat Yankee way to all that Right to Li(f)e bullshit. Somehow I don’t think she’d start off with “Oh, golly.”

  6. It’s only partially about abortion or contraception. See an oldie by Tristero, The War On Fucking.

    Also, many great posts on DailyKos by abortion provider, Dr Willam F Harrison. See his latest I first met Hillary…. Excerpt:

    “Three days ago, I met with Hillary at a campaign fundraising event held in Fayetteville, sponsered and attended by many of Hillary’s and Bill’s oldest friends. At this event, I gave my old friend, Hillary, a note requesting that she help us place a new frame around the abortion debate in this country.

    “For many years, she and Bill, and many others, have been speaking in support of keeping abortions “safe, legal and rare.” And though legal abortion care has continued to be safe for most girls and women, it has been made much less accessable and much more rarely available for the very poor and the very young, often the very women who need that care the most.

    “I know, because I know Hillary and Bill Clinton [for years], that they never meant abortion care to be rare because it has become much more rarely available in much of the country. They want it to be “rare” because it is rarely needed. Which is, I should think, just what most of us who support Reproductive Freedom desire as well.

    “I have asked her to do several things. To speak of “abortion care” instead of just saying the much more harsh sounding and seemingly negative single word, “abortion.” I asked her to say that she wants abortion care to be “safe, legal, accessable, and rarely needed.”

  7. Really the R’s aren’t anti-abortion, still less pro-life; they are, literally and precisely, anti-choice. (when they’re not anti-life).

  8. yes , I have often wondered why the Republicans who pander to the Religious Right are not asked point blank about their views on contraception ( including Plan B )….. in Presidential Debates for example …. Again it shows how the Dems never exploit THEIR weaknesses …. Make them say EXACTLY what they endorse re. contraception .
    Also , why has no one asked the obvious question … ” Is Jenna Bush saving herself until marriage ????”

    since this Administration is in favor of ABSTINENCE education and has put millions of dollars into it …..

    you wanna bet they would not ask this of Chelsea Clinton if the Dems were advocating this insane policy ????

  9. The irony of the so-called (imagine my voice dripping with contempt) “right to life” position is that passing laws that ban abortions doesn’t stop abortions.

    The even bigger irony (or more precisely, hypocrisy) of the “right to life” position is that pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death amongst teenage girls worldwide:


  10. You gotta love it – the march of the lunatic right back to the ’50’s (and early ’60’s) Donna Reed and “Leave it to Beaver” era.
    Only, Donna played a hooker in “From Here to Eternity.” How do they reconcile that? And, “Beaver Cleaver,” is rather a suggestive name, no? (More suggestive, perhaps, of the change in euphamism’s and language over time, than a pun at that time).
    But here they are in the 21st Century. Donna can have no fun, no way to make a living.
    And let no beaver be cleaved on their watch!
    Seriously, outside of some mythical ’50’s TV sit-com lifestyle, what else are these people FOR? They are against all change and improvement in anything – especially in women’s right’s.
    They watch way too much TV Land. Maybe TV L:and needs to put on “Maude” and “Soap.”
    I think they keep waiting for Ralph to cold-cock Alice on the rerun’s. That would teach her a thing or two…
    Or Rickey coming home drunk, pulling out his “Babalu,” and singing out, “LUUUUCYYYYYY, I”m home!!!!!!!!!”

  11. The anti-abortion movement has always been about sex and control. Always. I expect them to start pushing for head-scarfs in a decade or so.

  12. Marshall: I wouldn’t be surprised if fundies in this country would eventually try to push for more repressive clothing for women either. Although, I suppose they would have to make an exception for cheerleader costumes in states where high school football is 2nd only to church, lol.
    The vile Melanie Morgan recently screeched on Hardball, “You’ll look great in a burqa.” to Naomi Wolf. I’ve noticed that when the wingnuts chant “fight ‘them’ over there so we don’t have to fight ‘them’ here”; they are also, at the same time, pitching to the gullible fundies the idea that their ‘religion’ is in grave danger from ‘them’ here. (The McCarthy commie witch hunts come to mind.) Fundies ‘religious’ beliefs must be very fragile if they are so easily frightened. Scared followers plus control freaks are a dangerous combo.
    If the Leslie Hanks in this country had free rein, the lives of women wouldn’t be much different from those living under the Taliban. The threats to our way of life come from within.

  13. Leslie Hanks also says that abortions can cause breast cancer.

    Swami, this is an old, old deranged meme of the Fetus People. I hadn’t heard it trotted out in at least a decade, probably because was replaced by the “partial-birth” straw man that they cooked up in the 1990s, once their rogue membership started shooting up clinics and assassinating physicians. Not to mention there is no credible science to back it up.

    The “hooked on birth control pills that don’t work” deranged meme appears to be a new one. Sounds to me like Leslie Hanks is hooked on her own bizarre delusions. Perfect qualification for a Fetus People spokesdroid.

  14. It is well documented that increasing the use of contraceptives correlates to lowering the rate of abortions within a population. You can’t say the same about passing laws prohibiting abortion. You’ll never persuade the thick-headed Leslie Hanks of this, of course

    I’m sure she knows it perfectly well and doesn’t care. Decreasing abortion has nothing to do with the anti-choice agenda; it’s entirely about controlling women.

Comments are closed.