A trick question

Name one of the most important contributions to reduction in world poverty and improvement in maternal and child health, increased female education status…you get the idea—-and then guess who’s against it.

It’s no surprise that American conservatives are against family planning: they have been for years, although for mainstream audiences, they often tie it to abortion.  Now the Right is coming out of the closet and actively opposing birth control itself, in public, without shame.

This is insanity.

The literature on family planning is enormous and unequivocal: access to family planning reduces infant, child, and maternal mortality; improves education, especially for women and girls; reduces transmission of HIV; and reduces poverty.  And like many issues abhorred by a powerful segment of American conservatives, it also empowers women and girls, separating the act of sex (which may or may not be voluntary) from child-bearing.

For these same groups to call themselves “pro-life” while actively battling contraception is morally untenable.  Many would fall back on the libertarian argument that government shouldn’t support health care at all, and if it does, it should limit it to the most basic of services, which, for some reason, does not include contraception.  But they usually fall back to a mendacious and transparent moral argument.  From NPR (linked above):

 “They’ve called it preventative medicine. Preventative medicine,” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, on the House floor last month, shortly after the Obama administration adopted the recommendations of an expert panel and agreed to add contraceptives to a list of services insurance plans will be required to provide without a deductible or copayment. “Well, if you apply that preventative medicine universally, what you end up with is you’ve prevented a generation. Preventing babies from being born is not medicine.”

“Preventing babies from being born” is of course not correct.  Allowing women to have babies when they choose is.  A baby never conceived is not “prevented from being born”.  The larger fallacy in the statement is King’s idiotic conclusion that providing contraception would mandate its use forever and for always for everyone, “prevent[ing] a generation.”

Family planning is a basic health and social need in every society; it is not an “add-on”.  But they Right is correct about one thing: it is a moral issue.  Opposing family planning at home and abroad is profoundly immoral.  This opposition leads to death, illness, and enslavement of millions of human beings.


  1. & with ~7 billion people, they act act like there’s a shortage?

  2. I heard one of these crazies say that contraception is not a legitimate expense because women can choose not to have sex. It’s such a shotgun blast of incredibly offensive lunacy that I don’t even know where to begin the deconstruction.

    • saffronrose

       /  September 9, 2011

      It’s as if they believe that holding a St. Joesph’s Aspirin (are they still made?) between your knees is a good contraceptive. Sorry, you can cross your knees all you want, but no one seems to realize you can be flipped over and entered that way, and it’s damned hard to fight someone off in that position. You can have said NO all you want, but if you can be overpowered, you are still going to engage in intercourse (or endure more violence), whether you want to or not.

  3. saffronrose

     /  September 9, 2011

    Next it’ll be education for girls and women that they’ll oppose, if that’s any indicator, because that’s another way women and girls are empowered to make a better life for themselves and their family of birth or of marriage.

    Educated women worldwide often put off marriage and child-rearing until later, improving their own health as well as that of any children they bear (all access to healthcare being equal, which we know is not true in the world). They also bear fewer children because they know that spacing children improves the entire family’s health. If something should happen to the breadwinner (other than them) in the family, they will have the ability to take or make employment for themselves.

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