GOP: Yes to Contraception for Wild Horses, No for Women

During a month in which the anti-choice Republican and Tea Party majority in Congress and in many states have made it their priority mission to eliminate access to contraception for women here and abroad, and on the very same day that the House planned to vote to take away birth control for women living in poverty in the US and eliminate funding for international family planning, you will be happy to know that there is at least one group the GOP believes deserves access to contraception.

Wild horses.

Just a little while ago, according to reports from the House floor, a vote was held on an amendment introduced by Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN) to prevent the Bureau of Land Management from holding wild horses in pens and then slaughtering them.

Instead, says Burton, they should pursue “a much less costly and more human option – immunocontraception…”.

The amendment, as stated by Burton, is intended to reduce the Bureau of Land Management’s budget by $2 million and send a signal that the agency must reform its enormously wasteful and misguided program of capturing wild horses and burros and holding them in pens, rather than employing a much less costly and more humane option – immunocontraception to control herd size. 

“Despite objections raised by Members of Congress, BLM continues its round up and removal policy, and is currently holding approximately 46,000 horses in pens.  Total holding costs in FY10 were $36.9 million.”

Text of amendment:  H.R. 1 OFFERED BY: MR. BURTON AMENDMENT NO. 485: At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following: SEC. ll. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for the gathers and removals of free-roaming wild horses and burros, except for the purpose of fertility control.

I agree that holding wild horses in pens is cruel and unusual punishment and that it is more humane to use this option.

What mystifies me is this: Access to contraception and other reproductive health services for low-income women and women struggling in poverty in the United States saves nearly $4.00 for every $1.00 spent by the federal government.  Programs like Title X, which Burton and his comrades in the House are intent on gutting this same day, offer essential preventive services–detection and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, screening for breast and cervical cancer, contraception to plan families, and a wealth of other otherwise unavailable health services. These programs reduce the need for abortion, allow families to plan, reduce disease, and save countless dollars in reduced mortality and improved public health.

As I wrote this morning, eliminating international family planning funding–another amendment put forth today–would result in nearly 8 million more unintended pregnancies among women living in poverty in other countries; an additional 3.7 million abortions, and 87,000 infant deaths this year alone. 

Is this not cruel and unusual?

The House held a voice vote, apparently led by men too ashamed to go on record admitting that wild horses–no matter how worthy of our concern–garner more concern from the GOP than do thinking, breathing, sentient women worried every day how to feed and clothe and house their families.


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  • easternwesternwhoa

    Lets give Representive Burton thanks for this one. Wild Horses have been run off cliffs in mass, among many other even more brutal ends as a means of population control in this civilized country. Wild Horses have been waiting a long time, have no voice of their own, and have never been put first. I am all for birth control for every species, human included and especially. Consider this a step in the right direction by the GOP and hopefully by President Obama and his slaughter Czar, Salazar.

    Check out the killing fields that are our public lands. Bison, wolves, mt lions, bob cats, bears, anything that might interfere with cattle grazing is killed… and then the cattle are killed too…..Check out the chemicals and other grusome methods used to kill them. Sodium Cyanide etc. banned in other countries perhaps more civilized than the US of cattle. By the way, there is nothing against the torture of animals in the Democratic platform. They are not even mentioned. Can the animals ever have their day before they are all gone?? So far, no….

  • jodi-jacobson

    There is no objection whatsoever to the plan to implement fertility control in the wild horse population. None.

    In fact, the world would be a great deal better place if in fact the GOP was this rational on other issues.  Obviously Burton’s constitutents are concerned about this issue, and rightly so.  In another moment, I could see this self same program, put forth by a Democrat, made into some sort of caricature of a commercial about “earmarks.”

    But your comment misses the point entirely.  This is not about wild horses or humane animal control.  This is about a Congress that has been busy since the day it was sworn in in January introducing bill after bill after amendment after funding cut to obliterate funding for reproductive health services for poor women, and to reduce access for all women.

    The hypocrisy here is blatantly obvious.

  • mechashiva

    If the GOP recognizes that using contraception for mustangs is the most cost-effective solution to the wild horse population sustainability problem, why do they think that taking away family planning funding will decrease costs in the long run? That’s the thing that gets me about Republicans. They talk big about reducing government spending, and then only go after minimally effective steps to do so when it pleases them. Reducing spending isn’t important enough to override their holier-than-thou sensibilities.

  • freetobe







  • beenthere72

    Dangit!  I’m heading out of town that weekend and won’t be near a participating city – but I’m definitely spreading the word!

  • rebellious-grrl

    Thanks for the heads up on this. It’s about time we mobilize and get into the streets to fight for choice.

  • therealistmom

    Seattle, hopefully here I come!

  • oodlenoodle

    I’ll see you there! Yay for living in a (mostly) blue city!

  • therealistmom

    … but a few hours’ drive will most certainly be worth it. :)