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The Secret Conspiracy Of The Pill Killers

April 14, 2011

Unfortunately, some far-out conspiracy theories are true.

It is really rare that I see something by a mainstream media columnist on reproductive choice that I agree with paragraph-for-paragraph.  Usually there’s some kind of handwringing or rhetorical bone to the other side.  Of course, that may have something to do with most mainstream opinion journos being men, or with the absence of real progressive voices (as opposed to mushy-middle Democrats) from the discourse.  Gail Collins wrote something that had me nodding along all the way.  She said:

Senator Patty Murray, one of the leaders of the defense of Planned Parenthood in the Senate, says that she doesn’t remember any of the lawmakers who wanted to strip Planned Parenthood’s funds mentioning that they supported contraception services. “They just lump everything into one big basket with the word ‘abortion,’ ” she said.

This is important because it speaks to a disconnect in the entire debate we’ve been having about women and reproduction. For eons now, people have been wondering why the two sides can’t just join hands and agree to work together to reduce the number of abortions by expanding the availability of family-planning services and contraception.

The answer is that a large part of the anti-abortion community is also anti-contraception.

This is one of many grafs that made me think, “well, someone finally said it where people can hear it!”  In the feminist blogosphere, folks have been saying forever (and probably Amanda Marcotte and the folks at RH Reality Check earlier and louder than others – one example among many here) that the real target has always been the pill.  But all of us together have a limited audience — now that someone with Collins’s stature has said it, douchenozzles like Will Saletan might have to actually come to grips with it.

This is one of those areas where the real anti-democratic, authoritarian edge of movement conservatism is most exposed.  Collins cites the recent figures from Guttmacher:  99% of American women, and 98% of religious Catholic women in the US, use contraception other than natural family planning.  Religious organizations that oppose hormonal contraception have just flat lost this battle on the ground, as there is miniscule popular support for restricting contraception.  But our government does all kinds of things for which there is no popular support, like create massive loopholes that allow the wealthiest individuals and corporations to avoid paying their taxes.  Having lost the battle on the ground, a small group of powerful and well-funded hard-core reactionaries want the government to help roll back the social changes brought about by the pill, and they want to do it while lying about what they’re doing — like Boehner’s bullshit dissembling about Ryan’s plan to kill Medicare and like Jon Kyl lying about what Planned Parenthood does (which is how Collins opens her column).

The best thing that could happen at this point in the discourse if for the secret agenda to get talked about.  If we had a functioning media, reporters would start pressing the anti-abortion lobby for positions on contraception, since only a few of them are up-front about their opposition.  Collins quotes a few:

“The fact is that 95 percent of the contraceptives on the market kill the baby in the womb,” said Jim Sedlak of the American Life League.

“Fertility and babies are not diseases,” said Jeanne Monahan of the Family Research Council’s Center for Human Dignity, which has been fighting against requiring insurance plans to cover contraceptives under the new health care law.

But most refuse to make their position clear, using the lie (it’s a complete fabrication, as Collins makes pretty clear) that the pill thwarts implantation of fertilized eggs as an elastic clause to stretch abortion to cover the most common contraception while not coming right out and saying they want the pill to be illegal.

Yes, Virginia, there really is a group of far-right radicals who want to turn the clock back to a time when there was no effective technology to decouple intercourse from pregnancy and disease.  Collins is almost uniquely blunt among mainstream columnists in that she came right out and said it: “[b]eyond the science, there’s the fact that many social conservatives are simply opposed to giving women the ability to have sex without the possibility of procreation.”

Justice Brandeis said “sunlight is the best disinfectant.”  There is an infection in our body politic that wants to impose an essentially religious mandate on the healthcare technology that almost every woman uses during her life.  They can’t advocate that in the open; it’s about as popular as being against mom and apple pie.  So they are trying to do it in secret.

I’ll end with this, for any opinion journalists reading:  you need to come to understand that this is why there are no obvious compromises, and it’s because the other side rejects them.  You need to start out by saying that, for the anti-abortion folks, the price of admission to the adult conversation has to be agreeing that contraception is a great way to prevent abortion.  The only people who don’t agree with that are those who want to roll back the clock to a time when biology was destiny.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. blondeintokyo permalink
    April 14, 2011 7:38 am

    “I’ll end with this, for any opinion journalists reading: you need to come to understand that this is why there are no obvious compromises, and it’s because the other side rejects them. You need to start out by saying that, for the anti-abortion folks, the price of admission to the adult conversation has to be agreeing that contraception is a great way to prevent abortion. ”

    Many anti-abortionists recognize this, and are perfectly willing to take part in this conversation. The real problem is this: they won’t budge on the abortion issue, and neither will we. We’ll get their support for organizations like Planned Parenthood the minute those organizations stop providing abortions. But how can we do that without compromising our own position that abortion is part and parcel of reproductive heath care, and should not be stigmatized? That, I think, is the real question we should be pondering.

    • April 14, 2011 8:18 am

      I disagree. If PP stopped providing abortions, it would force the contraception opponents into the open, and they are only a small subset of the antiabortion movement, but they’re the subset in charge.

      And, we cannot compromise on abortion as part of a total package of reproductive justice. It cannot be done. I’ve pondered that, that’s my conclusion, and I’m no longer pondering it because I’ve reached a conclusion.

  2. laida permalink
    April 14, 2011 12:53 pm

    i just discovered this blog recently and i have to say im beyond amazed by the sex positivism expressed in a time where still any expression of female sexuality is viewed as demoralizing or lacking self respect.i am not american but i beleive that the fact that political parties and organisations that want to deny citizens basic human rights such as the choice to do as they please with their bodies having such major influence and having elected presidents like the republicans have shows that theres sth wrong with a very large part of the society.a part of the society which will raise children to feel guilty about expressing sexuality and who will ridicule and shun people who do and teach their kids to do the same.theese people are often school officials who will deny a pregnant girl the right to graduate on stage and act as if gay bashing and slut shaming between students is normal bcause theese kids actually deserve being bullied .the fact that these people are both anti abortion and anti contraceptive proves that they are not anti abortion bcause they care about the fetus life as they often claim but they want women who have relationships out of wedlock punished.they want pregnant teenage girls to face difficulties and discrimination bcause in their sick minds when using contraceptives or abort the baby you avoid the punishment for sinning.here in greece although there are no major political movements who oppose contraception or abortion the lack of seperation between church and state has caused schools having no sex ed.books were printed but church officials made sure to block the classes from happening.people need to wake up and realise that only when all people are free to make their own choices we will have true democracy and freedom.as long as people force their moral views on others and even attemt to or legislate them repression and unhappiness will reign.ps sorry if i made any grammatcal errors,english is not my native language

    • April 15, 2011 4:28 pm

      @laida
      If you want people to read what you write, I strongly encourage you to do the following:
      – Add a space after a full stop
      – Capitalize after a full stop
      – Make paragraphs, so it’s not just one big block of text

      There are plenty of things to read on the internet. Nobody’s going to spend their time getting a head-ache trying to decipher that, when there are so many other things they could be doing.

    • ggg_girl permalink
      April 17, 2011 12:59 am

      I just read your comment and I appreciate your perspective. It’s interesting to hear about how similar struggles in other countries play out.

  3. April 15, 2011 9:29 am

    First, I apologize for living in a state that elected Kyl.

    Second, I agree that Collins’s column is awesome. I am floored and excited that it was in something with so large a readership as the NYT.

    Third, “douchenozzles” made my week.

  4. January 2, 2012 9:40 am

    Hi Thomas,
    Thanks, on a related note, if you take the blue pill, you would go about your life as it is already.

    if you take the red pill, everything this world tries to hide from you would come into full view for you to see.

    that means you would know the truth about religion, all the secret conspiracy theories, war, life, everything.

    LOL that kinda sounds like an LSD/ACID trip, doesnt it?

    Aaron
    Cheers

  5. January 19, 2012 5:50 am

    if you take the blue pill, you would go about your life as it is already.

    if you take the red pill, everything this world tries to hide from you would come into full view for you to see.

    that means you would know the truth about religion, all the secret conspiracy theories, war, life, everything.

    LOL that kinda sounds like an LSD/ACID trip, doesnt it?

    Aaron

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