Roundup: Taking Back the Reproductive Health Debate


Taking Back the Reproductive Health Debate … Steven Waldman, former editor for U.S. News and World Report and founder of Beliefnet.com, writes about the Democrat’s continuing failure to take control of the abortion debate by highlighting the unpopular position of the far right on banning early-term abortions.  He argues that Dems continue to allow the right to focus on the extreme end of abortion care, late-term abortions, that constitutes only 1.4% of abortion procedures in the United States. 

Waldman does not go far enough in his critique of the Democrats, however. Democrats should work hard to put abortion its larger context of reproductive rights where it belongs.  Abortion care is only one aspect of the range of reproductive health services needed to keep people safe, healthy and in control of their lives.  Democrats should talk about the importance of comprehensive sex education and access to affordable, effective contraception as it relates to abortion.  It is easy to directly connect the dots between ensuring education and access to contraception to all Americans and reducing the need for abortions, an end that a vast majority of Americans can agree is desireable. 

If Democrats can bring the abortion debate into this larger reproductive health context they will find McCain continuing to struggle to explain his backing of anti-contraception bills and votes to continue federal funding of failed abstinence-only sex education curriculum. All the while Democrats will be seen as the party with a more cohesive and inclusive vision on these issues.

The Right’s War on Contraception … The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association has a post up examining the right’s concerted attempt to get rid of birth control in the United States:

Instead, I would like to point you to the bigger picture, the one that
keeps me up at night. For several years now, people have been talking
about the War on Contraception, that there is a growing movement within
extremely conservative circles to not only overturn a woman’s right to
choose abortion, but to take it even further and eliminate the right to
contraception as well. These people believe that contraception is the
root of all of society’s evils, and that we would all be better off if
women stayed home and raised babies. "Barefoot and pregnant" is
practically their rallying cry.

Yet many Americans,
especially American women, do not realize that one of their most
fundamental and cherished rights — the right to choose for themselves
whether or when to have children — is under attack. Unfortunately,
this war is very real, and the battlefield is expanding daily. The
potential HHS regulations are just the latest salvo in the War on
Contraception, brought to you by our friends who hate abortion but want
to limit access to common-sense measures like family planning, which
reduces unintended pregnancy and thereby reduces the need for abortion.

A related article worth reading is posted on Irish newspaper The Herald’s website. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Catholic Church’s banning of contraception a former priest, Father Peter de Rosa, recalls his fight against the ban and subsequent dismissal from the church.  Toward the end of his fight against the Pope’s declaration against contraception he was to be ‘reduced’ to a layman of the church and here de Rosa offers an ironic and stining indictment of his former church:

At my last meeting with Heenan, he asked me to go downstairs to see
his auxiliary bishop. Victor was a pal of mine. He said he would apply
to Rome for my reduction to the lay-state but it usually took two
years. I assured him I was in no hurry to be reduced. In the event, it
came within a month. Such indecent speed, I thought.

I realised later I could have remained a priest had I merely sexually abused children.

Pelosi Speaks Out Agaisnt Abstinence-only Sex Education … Speaking at the Netroots Nation conference last week (which Bill O The Clown so absurdly called more evil than the KKK or the Nazis) Nancy Pelosi was asked about abstinence-only sex education, check out her response, in it Pelosi starts getting at what I was talking about above, linking contraception and the reduction of abortions, she says “If you want to reduce abortion you should love contraception:”

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    A friend in his early thirties recently shared when he attended junior high in a Catholic school in Dubuque, Iowa, condem use was demonstrated, complete with bananas!