We’ve been writing for two years about the threats to contraception, but no one could have articulated it quite as clearly as the John Birch Society.
You have to be of a certain age for the John Birch Society to have any relevance, and at 45, I’m just barely of that age, the organization’s name ringing in my ear like a tinny memory, off key and out of tune with the times. When I saw an article by them pop up in my Google reader, I chuckled, hearing my long dead grandfather’s voice dismissing their politics in the 1960’s. Before there was a Moral Majority, Christian Coalition, Eagle Forum, Family Research Council, or Concerned Women for America — there were the "Birchers." Ardent anti-Communists in the glory days of Joe McCarthy, these people were famous for routing out liberals and communist sympathizers like General Dwight David Eisenhower, the former Republican President.
Somehow, given the McCarthy-esque tactics used in the election of 2008, its fitting that they re-emerge — Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann, Elizabeth Dole and many others have conjured this ghost. What fascinates me most is how genuinely honest they are about wanting to take away your rights to contraception, and the fact that their support for Colorado’s "Egg as person" Amendment 48 is their chosen vehicle for doing it. In addition to Colorado’s ballot initiative, recall that the Bush Administration is about to redefine contraception and make your access to it more difficult before leaving office.
In an article on their web site, they honestly describe Amendment 48:
If passed, every fertilized egg and fetus would have full protection and all the rights of older individuals, under the law, even due process.
Perhaps we should be clear on the definition of "individual" since the Birchers are not. An "individual" is "single" or "separate", "a single human being as distinct from a group, class, or family."
Using only like-minded biased and unscientific links for references, the Birchers repeat common misinformation from the far-right that contraception is an abortifacient, which, according to every major medical association, it is not:
Opponents say the amendment would have far-reaching consequences and
might allow abortion and contraception to be interpreted as murder.
Real contraception — that which precludes a woman from conceiving a
child — could never be interpreted as murder. The modern-day usage of
the word contraceptive, however, encompasses most of the products on
the market today including the low-dose oral contraceptives, the patch,
implantables and injectibles, that, as manufacturers admit, can have abortifacient actions as potential secondary means to prevent pregancies. "Abortifacient"
is the medical term for any abortion-causing preparation. So, Amendment
48 could have some effect on the use of abortifacients — which
according to some estimates account for as many as 8 to 11 million
medical and chemical abortions per year in this country.
They chastise pro-life Gov. Bill Ritter (D) for opposing the amendment, and demonstrate why they’ve been politically irrelevant for so long, since they can’t quite recognize 130,000 petition signers won’t be enough to win an election, and must mean all the polls are wrong. Not for a moment will they or others on the far-right stop to consider they are wrong.
Supposedly pro-life Governor Bill Ritter opposes the amendment, as
does the Colorado Bar Association, and of course, pro-abortion groups.
It took 130,000 signatures to get it on the ballot, so perhaps the
media poll showing that two-thirds of Coloradans oppose the amendment
might be a bit off.
Perhaps the only smart thing they did in their article was quote Cristina Page:
Christina Page from BirthControlWatch.org
said, “The discussion of social issues has expanded to include birth
control, sex education, stem cell and more; all the issues that get
stalled in Congress once the “abortion” label is applied.” The plan to
combat this is to “edit from Congress” the more extreme anti-abortion,
anti-contraception legislators and go after the new “pill kills” groups.
Just as they misspelled her name, the missed her point. Cristina correctly notes that the far-right in Congress uses the hot-button abortion issue to prohibit Congress from even talking about common sense prevention methods like improved sex ed and contraception access to prevent unintended pregnancies, and thus reduce abortions.
The Birchers do make some accurate conclusions about how extremely out of touch the far-right is, and how pro-education, pro-prevention and pro-choice groups will speak the truth about that extremism.
Likely, pro-contraception and pro-abortion groups will also argue that
a woman’s right to have a prescription filled at the pharmacy is being
prevented by efforts such as that which led to the Colorado amendment.
Pro-lifers will probably be attacked as “anti-contraception”
extremists. Irrespective of these likely complaints, the truth is more
important than political agendas. It’s about time that the
abortifacient properties of modern contraceptives are brought into the
light of public scrutiny so that the women taking them can, in fact,
understand fully the ramifications of that action and the consequences
to the unborn.
To understand their politics and just how out of touch with modern life they are, as if you don’t already, this line from the "About John Birch" page, sums it up perfectly:
In a "prose poem" written at age 26, John Birch gave voice to his
Jefferson-esque longing to "live slowly, to relax with my family before
a glowing fireplace … to enjoy a good book … to reach the sunset of
my life sound in body and mind, flanked by strong sons and
Wives, daughters and granddaughters — and their reproductive health and rights — are invisible to the Birchers, just as they are to their more politically savvy and manipulative heirs in today’s far-right.
The only question now is if today’s more recognized extremists are about to go the way of irrelevance as the Birchers did many, many, many years ago, their ideas today no more in tune with modern life, than the haunting echo of these original wingnuts, and their efforts to control your most intimate personal life decisions in full public view for voters to either agree, or disagree with.