From PZ Myers’ blog
Pharyngula, I learned some jaw-dropping
is allowing nurses to get 4.6 hours of continuing education credit by
un-educating themselves on one of the most common forms of health
care required by women in this country: contraception. The news
that California allows nurses to get credit hours by getting indoctrinated
with anti-contraception propaganda seemed too unbelievable to me, but
the blogger Zeno did his research, and sure enough it really is true.
Unlike other, more
subtle attempts at indoctrination,
the organizers of this conference don’t even make an effort at seeming
less loony than they are. The conference is called "Humanae
Vitae: Cornerstone of the Culture of Life" — so you know that it’s
not going to be the event where you learn basic medical realities, including that it’s not healthy for women to be pregnant most of their adult
lives. Or that having one baby after another isn’t the best way
to produce healthy babies, either.
But digging in even deeper
into the program for the conference raises the levels of alarm from
annoyed to angry to steaming. The first speaker was scheduled to
give a talk on one of the strangest anti-choice superstitious ideas, which is that contraception causes
abortion. "But wait," say people who understand the relationship
between cause and effect, "Are they performing abortions on women
who aren’t pregnant nowadays? Because from where I sit, contraception
prevents the cause of upwards of 95% of abortions, which is unintended
pregnancy." But that’s the sort of rational thinking that
leads one directly down the pro-choice path, so the anti-choice
community discourages it.
Actually, the "logic,"
if you’d want to call it that, behind the idea that contraception
leads to abortion is that the invention of contraception made people
think they could have sex for fun, and that poisonous notion–that sex is playtime,
instead of a grim duty barely tolerated for the holy purpose of procreation–is
why people find themselves getting pregnant without wanting to be. If you believe people didn’t enjoy sex before the 1960s,
it makes a strange sort of sense. But unfortunately for anti-contraception extremists, the evidence is
in, and yes, contraception reduces unintended pregnancy rates.
Torturing yourself by reading
anti-choice lies is a peculiar past time, and I don’t recommend it
for everyone. Out of all the nonsense on this program, I found
myself personally offended by the NGOs who promote
contraception don’t care about women.
You hear this claim a lot from anti-choicers–that pro-choice activists
are trying to hoodwink women into not being pregnant. The idea that
women as a rule would be able to enjoy non-stop pregnancy if our wee
little lady brains weren’t confused by all that big, scary feminism
insults me as an activist, a woman, and a feminist.
But the real question here
isn’t why anti-choicers lie and deceive like this, but why the state
of California just rolled over and let the California Catholic Women’s
Forum get this approved as continuing education. I can’t help
but think that the choice to apply for continuing education credits
for this seminar is part of the larger anti-choice project to deprive
women of health care by stocking the health care professions with anti-choice
loonies who refuse to provide care and hide behind religion to do it.
"Right of refusal" laws are popping up in various states, and since, god willing, we’ll join the rest of the industrialized world by providing universal health care in the next few years, there’s a strong possibility that anti-choice health care
workers will be getting some forms of government money to discriminate
against women. Perhaps the anti-choice movement is lending more
attention to "right to refuse" legislation and training of anti-choice
health care workers in anticipation of universal health care.
It’s tempting to think that
getting universal health care will be an opportunity to kick back and
celebrate, but it looks instead like it’s going to be the beginning
of a fight between anti- and pro-choicers on whether or not women will
be included in the word "universal"–in other words, whether or not women will
receive second rate health care that doesn’t include coverage for
contraception or even abortion. We already have the Hyde Amendment,
a piece of legislation so secure that even pro-choice politicians will
vote to renew it.
And make no mistake, anti-choicer
will reach for every card they can to deny women coverage. Already
you’re seeing temper tantrums from the religious right over whether
or not faith-based programs that receive government funding should be
held to the same anti-discrimination standards as secular organizations.
Because they wave their hands around and talk about Jesus, they want
a special right to refuse to employ people based on sexual orientation.
If government money starts to flow to religious health care organization,
we’re going to see the same argument–that religious groups have a special
right that secular groups don’t have to discriminate against women.
Is it possible for anti-choicers
to infiltrate the ranks of health care workers to the extent that they
severely limit some women’s ability to get contraceptive health care?
Not in big cities, probably not, but it’s easy to see how the "right
to refuse" can quickly become a mandate to refuse for pharmacists
and other health care workers who face social disapproval for providing
contraception in conservative small towns. And it’s not feasible
for every woman who wants to use contraception at some point in her
life to move to a big city. If so, we’d be seeing 98% of women living
in the cities.