Roundup: Common Sense on Contraception, Sex Ed, Women, Catholicism, and Palin’s Liberal Fundraising Boon


Contraception Is the Middle Ground

Cynthia Tucker writes an outstanding editorial in the Atlanta Journal Constitution that should be read in full, arguing for serious engagement by voters on the issue of supporting contraception. Citing declining abortion rates, and the need for reality-based approaches, she writes:

The flip side of the news about declining abortion rates is this:
Nearly half of all pregnancies to American women are still unintended,
and about 40 percent of those pregnancies will end in abortions, the
Guttmacher Institute says. Unintended pregnancies have been decreasing
among higher-income women, those with the resources to readily obtain
contraceptives. But unplanned pregnancies have increased among poor
women.

So let’s make this simple: We can concentrate on working-class and
poor women. Since conservatives are reluctant to provide a comfortable
social safety net to help those women support children born outside
marriage, they ought to sign on quickly. And for those social
conservatives who still insist that teenagers ought to be taught
abstinence only (although research shows that approach a miserable
failure), there is still room for you under the big tent — supporting a
broad public campaign for contraception that focuses on adults.

Of course, the ultraconservative fringe — those who insist that sex
is intended only for procreation — will not want to get with the
program. They’re the ones who distort the science about condoms,
insisting that they don’t protect against pregnancy or disease. They’re
the ones who push legislation to allow pharmacists to refuse to fill
prescriptions for birth control. But those fringe rightwingers don’t
represent the values of the broad American middle.

 

Women Need Reality More Than Symbols

Writing for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Roberta Bliely argues that on matters of public policy for women, having a woman on a national ticket doesn’t actually represent change from the current administration. 

American teens suffer high pregnancy and chlamydia rates, yet McCain
and Bush oppose medically accurate sex education. Instead, McCain
panders to the far right, vowing to continue the Bush tradition of
doling out hundreds of millions of tax dollars to fundamentalists who
preach "abstinence only" and don’t want young people to know about
condoms.

Medical science recognizes contraception is central to women’s
health. Without it, the average woman would bear a dozen or more
pregnancies. It’s strange that Bush and McCain oppose all efforts to
make contraception affordable, whether in health plans, programs for
the uninsured, drug pricing, drug approval, international assistance,
etc. But they don’t want sensible folks to know about it….

Our next president’s views really do matter because contraception, which most of us take for granted, is at risk.

That lipstick crew has been working behind the scenes. Some would
turn the clock back half a century to when contraception was a crime.
Take, for example, Dr. Susan Orr, author of "Real Women Stay Married."
She equates contraception with "a culture of death." Bush appointed her
to lead Title X, the program that subsidizes contraception and cancer
screening for the uninsured. Orr brought the program to its knees.
McCain earlier voted to abolish Title X altogether. Today 17 million
uninsured women need these services.

Even women with health insurance may lose their contraception
because a Bush appeals court judge issued a precedent-setting ruling
last year against female workers who sought contraceptive coverage.
Their health plan covers all other preventive care, drugs and even
Viagra and Rogaine for men. The decision erases hard-fought gains women
won just a few years ago. McCain voted against contraceptive coverage
legislation.

Before leaving office, Bush will issue rules to boost a trend among
pharmacists who refuse to dispense contraception because of religious
objections. Some Montana women must drive 80 miles to find a pharmacy
willing to sell the pill. By blurring the line between contraception
and abortion, Bush’s proposed rules will thwart state laws meant to
assure proper care for sexual assault survivors.

Don’t believe for a second that McCain and Palin will "change"
anything. Palin’s group, Feminists for Life, not only opposes all
abortion, even for rape victims, it fosters this bizarre, unfounded
notion of birth control pills as murder weapons. The group’s Web site
refers to contraception as an "abortofacient," a favorite code word of
the far right. It means they’re gunning for your birth control.

The gradual re-criminalization of abortion has, of course, begun.
The new Supreme Court, in yet another 5-4 ruling, recently upheld an
abortion restriction that McCain approved and Bush signed. As though
high-risk pregnancy is a walk in the park, the ruling eviscerates the
women’s health protections of Roe. McCain promises to appoint judges
who will overturn Roe entirely. As the far right blurs contraception
with abortion, who knows where it will end?

McCain may have a woman on the ticket, but he does not have the interests of women at heart.

 

Common Sense Sex Education

An editorial in Oklahoma City’s The Black Chronicle talks about common sense when it comes to sex ed:

In an ideal world, abstinence education and purity balls would be sufficient.

In the real world, the one of raging hormones and a highly sexualized pop culture, they dissuade woefully few teens.

Researchers
for the non-partisan Mathematica Policy Research Corp. tracked four
abstinence-only programs for four to six years. Their definitive
164-page report can be summed up in four words: These programs aren’t
effective.

Numerous studies show that the most successful approach is a combination of sex education and abstinence counseling.

U.S.
Sen. Barack Obama (Dem., Ill.) supports this balanced policy. Yet, U.S.
Sen. John McCain (Rep., Ariz.) and his running mate, Gov. Palin, both
come down on the opposite side of the research.

Sen.
McCain has expressed support for President George W. Bush’s policy and
Palin, running for governor in 2006, wrote in a questionnaire: “The
explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support.” The Republican
Platform, approved at last week’s party convention, calls for
“replacing ‘family planning’ programs for teens with increased funding
for abstinence education.”

Despite
the $1.5 billion spent since 2000 on abstinence education, however, the
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reported earlier this year
that a decade-long decline in the teen birth rate was reversed in 2006.

The
“explicit” sex-ed programs, better known as comprehensive sex
education, generally promote abstinence or postponing sex but also
provide information about contraception and safe sex. Think of it this
way: You tell your children not to drink, but you also teach them that
if they do, they shouldn’t drive.

 

Advocacy Groups on Both Sides Enjoy Fundraising Bounce

Politico.com is reporting that both anti-choice and pro-choice advocacy organizations have seen dramatic increases in fundraising since Sarah Palin was announced as the GOP candidate for Vice President.  The spontaneous flood of cash and enthusiasm is welcome by both sides though even anti-choice advocates acknowledge Palin will be good for progressive fundraising because she is so polarizing and divisive. “She will be the feature story in every direct mail piece that goes
out,” says [Marjorie] Dannenfelser. “She’s going to raise a lot of money for them,
inadvertently.” 

NARAL Pro-Choice American reported an impressive $120,000 income from just two email alerts. But some of the efforts are grassroots. For example, an email has been circulating for about a week in pro-choice circles, that encourages donations be made to Planned Parenthood as a gift in Sarah Palin’s name, sending the gift card to the McCain campaign headquarters. Officials at Planned Parenthood told RH Reality Check that our inquiry was the first they’d heard about the email campaign.

Biden’s Catholic "Problem"?

Time Magazine asks and answers a question about Sen. Joe Biden’s Catholic faith, and recent attacks by Bishops on Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi for expressing views the majority of Catholics in America support, that it is possible to separate private faith from public duty, even as Biden and Pelosi were criticized for their theological comments.  The article also points out that the most vocal Bishops have a consistency problem:

As much as these missteps have made them groan, Catholic Democrats
like Korzen complain that there is an inconsistency in the bishops’
actions. In a recent interview with Religion News Service, Archbishop
Chaput was asked why he has not also denounced the conflict between John McCain‘s
support for
embryonic stem-cell research and his statement that life begins at
conception. Chaput responded by denying that McCain held that position.
When reminded by the interviewer that McCain has made public statements
of support for embryonic stem-cell research on numerous occasions,
Chaput switched gears, arguing that he would only have reason to
express criticism if McCain had vocal Catholic support, "if a group
came out [called] Catholics for McCain.’"

There is in fact a "Catholics for McCain" organization. But
contesting the fairness of criticism won’t help Democrats this fall.
They are already poised to improve on Kerry’s support from Catholic
voters, whose top issues this year have been the economy and national
security instead of hot-button moral issues. In a TIME poll of Catholic
voters conducted this summer, a
full 80% said that they could vote for a candidate whose position on
abortion differed from theirs.

 

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  • invalid-0

    Ms. Tucker,
    .
    I am deeply concerned that you would take on this “campaign” to push more people to use more contraception (“Get onboard campaign for contraception”, September 14, 2008). You state that contraception is “one thing that would further reduce the abortion rate” and is also “something most of us agree on”. Well, I guess I’m in the minority and here’s why I think not only you’re wrong, but what you are suggesting is evil.
    .
    As you mentioned, “according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, abortions have been declining for the past three decades”. I agree that that’s a step in the right direction, but what you are proposing by promoting contraception actually risks turning the tides and paves the way for an increase in abortions.
    .
    It seems to me that if you tell someone (And who exactly are you advocating this campaign for anyway? Is it children, teens, college students, single adults, single parents, married couples, or simply everybody on the planet?) that he/she should use more contraception it may lead to some unintended outcomes.
    .
    First, I think it puts a loaded weapon of sorts into some unsuspecting hands. That is, it says to the contraceptive user, that if a person of authority (i.e. doctor, parent, friend, government, newspaper columnist) says it is okay to use that contraceptive, then, doggonit, it must be okay to use. If that is the case, next he/she will follow through and actually go out and find a way to use that contraceptive. He/she may even develop a mindset or mentality that goes along with it. Hey, what fun! Look at me, I’m using contraceptives. A little sex here and a little sex there. Wow, this feels good—I really like all this sex! I’m going to do more of it. And, cool, no consequences. I may even experiment a little with this, try some new things, perhaps even add a new partner or two. What have I got to lose? This is great!
    .
    Second, inevitably, tragedy strikes.
    .
    Uh, oh. The person, who has had so much meaningless contraceptive sex, loses respect: self-respect and respect for the partner(s) with whom he/she has been so intimate with sharing this (dare I say) sacred event. Whether you’re single or married, when you’re having contraceptive sex, you begin taking your partner for granted and sooner or later he/she will resent you for it and come to realize that you have been using him/her only for sex.
    .
    Uh, oh. The condom breaks, the diaphragm slips or the pill gets forgotten. Uncommon? I’ll quote the alleged family planning advocate reference you mentioned in the article. According to some Guttmacher Institute statistics:
    .
    Fifty-four percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant. Among those women, 76% of pill users and 49% of condom users report having used their method inconsistently, while 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users report correct use.
    .
    Now what do I do? You told me I could have all this fun and not have to worry about any consequences. The woman I am having sex with is now concerned that she may now be pregnant—and we’re both scared. What are my options now? How did this speeding freight train derail?
    .
    You proclaim “let’s get started pushing contraception”. Well, if we did that, might that imply that either more people would go out and uses contraceptives or that more contraceptive might be used—or both? Also, might that then increase the likelihood of “contraceptive failure”? Which, in turn, just might lead to an increase in abortions?
    .
    In closing I leave you with an article (http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=34696) to read and contemplate on—not one to take lightly. It “closes the gap” between contraception and abortion.
    .

    This link between the contraceptive mentality and abortion was well illustrated in the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey which confirmed Roe v. Wade.
    .
    This decision stated that “In some critical respects abortion is of the same character as the decision to use contraception. … For two decades of economic and social developments, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.”
    .
    Commenting on this Supreme Court decision, Professor Janet Smith said: “The Supreme Court decision has made completely unnecessary any efforts to ‘expose’ what is really behind the attachment of the modern age to abortion. As the Supreme Court candidly states, we need abortion so that we can continue our contraceptive lifestyles. It is not because contraceptives are ineffective that a million and a half women a year seek abortions as backups to failed contraceptives. The ‘intimate relationships’ facilitated by contraceptives are what make abortions ‘necessary.’ … Here the word ‘intimate’ means ‘sexual’; it does not mean ‘loving and close.’ Abortion is most often the result of sexual relationships in which there is little true intimacy and love, in which there is no room for a baby, the natural consequence of sexual intercourse.”

  • scott-swenson

    Tommy, Thanks for articulating your personal beliefs so clearly. For anyone who takes contraception for granted and believes it is not threatened by people trying to impose their beliefs on every American, it couldn’t be more clear that we all need to wake up. For anyone wanting to separate facts from fictions on whether or not contraception is an abortifacient, you can read what science and all major professional medical associations have to say here.

    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • invalid-0

    Whether you’re single or married, when you’re having contraceptive sex, you begin taking your partner for granted and sooner or later he/she will resent you for it and come to realize that you have been using him/her only for sex.

    hahahahahaha

    I have been using contraceptives and having sex with my husband for 30 years. We have yet to realize we are using each other only for sex. I am amused though that love doesn’t seem to enter your equation, you’re either using someone to have babies (which I guess you deem good) or using someone for sex, which you deem evil. No way we could be expressing our love for each other and at the same time not want a baby every year.

  • invalid-0

    I AM MARRIED FOR OVER 30 YEARS AND HAVE NEVER USED BIRTH CONTROL PILLS. I PLANNED MY FAMILY FROM THE AGE OF 7 AND WHEN I GOT MY TWO LOVELY DAUGHTERS I GOT STERILIZED! BETWEEN THE FIRST AND THE SECOND I USED IUD’S FOR 5 YEARS AND THE FOLLOWING TWO YEARS I USED COMMON SENCE AND GOOD ADVICE FROM MY DOCTOR. OR BETTER SAID FAMILY PLANNING!

    NOW MY YOUNGEST DAUGHTER IS 23 AND DOES NOT HAVE ANY SEXUAL RELATIONS. SHE HAS A SLIGHTLY HIGHER LEVEL OF TESTOSTERONE, THAT IMPEDES HER MENSTRUAL CYCLE. I IMMEDIATELY STARTED HER ON BIRTHCONTROL PILLS DUE TO THE HIGH LEVEL OF ESTROGEN IN EACH PILL. THAT ALMOST IMMEDIATELY REGULATED HER MENSTRUAL CYCLE AND NOW HER TESTOSTERONE/ESTROGEN LEVEL ARE BALANCED! SHE DOES’NT MISS A MONTH WITHOUT THEM. ALSO HER HAIR HAS GROWN THICKER AND STRONGER, HER SKIN IS PRACTICALLY ACNE FREE, AND SHE NO SIDE-EFFECTS AT ALL FROM THE PILL THAT WERE PRESCRIBED TO HER BY THE DOCTOR.

    SO YOU SEE? THE BENEFITS OF B’CONTROL PILLS OUTWAY ANY PREJUDICE THAT THEY ARE SIMPLY TO PREVENT OBORTION, OR BABIES! I HOPE ANYONE CAN LEARN FROM MY EXPERIENCE AND WAKE-UP!I WAS BORN INTO A LARGE AND EXTENDED FAMILY, AND DEFINITLY DID’NT WANT THAT FOR MYSELF! MY MOTHER RAN HER LIFE IN THE GROUND RAISING 9, AND THAT’S WHY I MADE UP MY MIND AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE!