ONTD Political

The global economy is just a euro-slide away from another recession and we could be just weeks or even days away from a major conflict with Iran, but the emerging frontrunner for the GOP nomination is focusing, laser-like, on the real threat facing America: contraception.

The danger, it appears, is this: when contraceptives are involved, you just can't tell what kind of shenanigans might be going on in the bedrooms of America, consensual or otherwise. If it's consensual, the danger is that it could be out-of-wedlock sex. If it involves a married couple, the danger is that the hanky-panky could be for something other than procreation. And if it's not consensual, as in the case of rape or incest, the danger is that the female might resist the idea of staying pregnant. In any event, Santorum appears to believe that contraceptives -- including emergency contraceptives -- are just not God's way of dealing with these situations. Nature should take its course. And for that reason:

States should have the power again to ban contraception;
The federal government should stop funding family planning clinics that provide low-income women with access to contraceptives and other preventive health care services;
Religious-affiliated hospitals should be able to strip out all birth control coverage out of any health insurance policy that they offer their employees... regardless of the personal convictions or needs of the employees.
And girls and women who are raped or victims of incest should not have access to the morning-after pill or an abortion.

Despite these firmly held positions, and despite all of his public musings about the "dangers of contraception," Santorum says he doesn't believe that government should ban all birth control. Really? Talk about a distinction without a difference. Presumably, however, he would stop short of criminalizing the use of condoms and other forms or birth control. What a relief.

Santorum represents a strain in American politics, albeit a very small one, that believes that preventing unintended and unwanted pregnancies is both a moral wrong and a social ill: women who engage in sexual intercourse -- whether voluntarily or not -- should have children by chance, not by choice.

While religious conviction may be the primary reason that social conservatives oppose contraception, it's not the only one. When the Obama administration announced in August that it would require health insurance companies, under the new health care law, to reimburse for contraceptive services without charging a co-payment, Rep. Steve King from Iowa rushed down to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to slam the regulation. Why? Because expanding access to contraceptives services (i.e. preventing unintended pregnancies) would lead to "a dying civilization."

Really? The U.S. Census Bureau projects that U.S. population, currently 313 million, will climb to 398 million or higher by 2050. That doesn't seem to suggest that we are in any danger of imminent demographic collapse.

Many social conservatives, of course, link contraceptives with abortion. And there is a link: restrict access to contraceptives and there will be more unintended pregnancies... and more abortions. The Guttmacher Institute recently reported that as recently as 2006 about nine million women a year were using publicly subsidized contraceptive services and that, as a result, nearly two million unintended pregnancies a year were being averted... and over 800,000 abortions prevented.

Santorum and his followers, of course, are clamoring to eliminate or slash support for Title X, Medicaid, the new health care law, or any other program that would make it easier for low-income women to purchase contraceptives. If they are successful in limiting access to contraceptives, there will be more unintended pregnancies, more abortions, and more taxpayer dollars will go to support maternal and infant health care. In the process more lives will be ruined, but more babies will be born... and that, it appears, is their bottom line.

For the moment, Santorum and his followers may be in the political ascendant, but only for the moment. Their views on contraception and reproductive health and rights are so clearly at odds with the thinking of most Americans, men and women, that they are setting themselves up for a political fall.

For all those who care about women and their reproductive health, it can't come too soon.

tigerdreams 11th-Feb-2012 05:31 am (UTC)
Yeah, I was kind of thinking the same thing. I mean, it's valid to point out that for some women, HBC is necessary to prevent dangerous conditions like ovarian cysts, but otherwise? It doesn't matter that I don't have PMDD; I deserve birth control too.
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