Banning the Pill Kills Women. Period.

10 years ago

Sort of like how each episode of Sesame Street amusingly was sponsored by a few letters and numbers, today's post is sponsored by irony. Generally when I want to write something about reproductive rights, the first sites that match my search terms are ones that inevitably lead me to websites like prochoice.com, which is not remotely pro-choice and contains inaccurate information about abortion, complete with an extremely freakish waving fetus and a lecture on how parenthood is hard and you can never be prepared for it anyway, so just go ahead and carry a pregnancy to term because there are absolutely no costs associated with child birth or raising children that people should prepare themselves for. Today, I wanted to find some sites that participated in The Pill Kills Day '08, which took place this past Saturday, June 7. Of course, initially all I could find was commentary on how horrific and misleading this campaign is.

Why June 7? Well, as Cristina Page at RH Reality Check explains:

June 7 is the anniversary of Griswold v Connecticut, the 1965 Supreme Court decision that granted married people the right to use contraception... Anti-contraception activism has been working its way up the priority list of the anti-choice movement in the United States in recent years and today's campaign is one of the most organized and visible displays of this broadening agenda.

Currently, there is not one pro-life organization in the U.S. that supports contraception. In fact, the multi-pronged attack against the right to use contraception is led entirely by anti-abortion groups. Their initiatives (to name just a few) include opposing health insurance of contraception, urging pharmacists to deny women's birth control prescriptions, and attempting (with no scientific rationale) to reclassify the birth control pill, and all other hormonal forms of contraception, as abortion methods with the goal of banning them. This represents an important and frightening shift in focus by the anti-abortion movement.

Despite the fact that contraception is the only proven way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and reduce abortion rates, anti-choice groups would forgo these benefits, and even risk dramatically increasing abortion rates, in favor of a larger, more insidious goal: changing Americans' sex lives.

As the American Life League, the nation's largest pro-life educational organization, explains in its materials, "The American Life League denies the moral acceptability of artificial birth control and encourages each individual to trust in God, to surrender to His will, and to be predisposed to welcoming children." The American Life League prefers to put the choices in the hands of God, a choice they want to impose on everyone. "It must be clear that couples understand that when they ask God to not send them another child just now they are also saying, ‘If it is Your will to send us another child at this time, we praise You for Your divine providence,'" the group says.

What? The anti-reproductive rights movement uses misleading and full of inaccurate information to achieve their extreme goals? Why would they do that if their cause is so obvious? Self-described "radical pro-lifer" Jill Stanek doesn't bother mentioning that birth control pills (or the ring or the patch or whatever ingested contraceptive a woman may use) works primarily by preventing ovulation so there is no chance that an egg might be released and fertilized. That would imply that women do not have the right to prevent themselves from getting pregnant, taking conception out of God's hands and putting it into her own. Instead, Stanek informs readers that:

"...one way the birth control pill works is it makes the wall of the uterus impermeable to implantation, in which case the very young preborn human is aborted... Neanderthals like me think women should know the pill can kill their 5- to 9-day-old children.

(Back to today's sponsor, irony. How ironic is it that Stanek sardonically calls herself a Neanderthal?!?!)

As long as we are talking about the rarer uses of birth control, I might as well point out that I take the Pill literally to save my life. As a sufferer of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition that affects up to 1 in 10 women of childbearing age, I don't get my period. At all. Ever. While many might celebrate this lack of monthly nuisance, it actually causes a higher risk for endometrial cancer. To combat that danger, I take the Pill so that I can shed the lining of my uterus. Hence, the Pill may save my life by preventing me from contracting cancer. But why should I have the right to take a drug that could save my life if it also kills my hypothetical baby? Just ban contraceptives, and we'll save the unborn who aren't even conceived! Yay!

Of course, being completely open and upfront about why they really think birth control should be banned is not going to be very popular. Rebellios Jezebel Blogging notes that, "Never mind that this happens quite naturally about half the time, or that the Pill just prevents ovulation in general, the Pill Kills! REALLY!" As the fshk blog points out, "Many, many people rely on their birth control, and I’d be willing to bet there are a lot of women who oppose abortion but still take a Pill every day so, you know, they are never in the position of having to decide whether or not to have an abortion." The implantation dilemma is a shocking device that skirts the real issue, that the consequence of a woman having sex is that she might get pregnant, and that would be her proper punishment for sex, even with a spouse. Because sex for any purpose other than procreation is wrong. Period.

I know that the anti-choice movement - and in this case, I feel 100% accurate in calling these extreme activists who impose their religious beliefs on everyone else forced childbirth activists, since they are essentially forcing women to forgo sex or risk procreating when they do not want to - loves calling themselves "pro-life." But forcing women to have children is not terribly effective at saving the lives of those who are already born if they need medical care and have no insurance. It doesn't address the fact that, as Nicholas D. Kristof reports in today's New York Times:

In some African countries, a woman has more than a 1-in-10 lifetime risk of dying in childbirth. If men were dying at such a rate for fathering children, the G-8 would be holding emergency summits.

Yet President Bush has actually proposed an 18 percent cut in 2009 in our aid agency’s negligible spending for maternal and child care abroad. Family planning, which reduces pregnancies and thus also prevents both abortions and maternal deaths, is perennially starved for funds.

Nope, forget a human right to sexuality - it seems that women do not even have right to life. As long as a baby is born (hopefully alive), the woman can be rendered disabled during pregnancy or even die during childbirth. (Any female of the age to conceive isn't really a person, anyway.) Killing women in the name of life is the ultimate irony, isn't it?

Suzanne also blogs about life at Campaign for Unshaved Snatch (CUSS) & Other Rants and about creating positive social change at Just Cause.

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