Robin Summers is the Senior Policy Analyst for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA).
The famous Chinese general, Sun Tzu, in his infamous military treatise, "The Art of War," wrote: "All warfare is based on deception." Common sense tells us, however, that for a deception to prove effective, the lie must ring true. That is where the enemies of reproductive choice fail in the newest stratagem in their war: the attack on contraception.
[img_assist|nid=598|title=Special Series|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=67]A couple of weeks ago, anti-choice activists gathered in Chicago for a conference entitled, "Contraception Is Not the Answer." You may have read about it in the Chicago Tribune, or in blogs like this one. The organizer of this attack on contraception was none other than Joe Scheidler and his Pro-Life Action League, the man who vowed to stop abortion "by any means necessary" and the group he called the "pro-life mafia" – the same group that proclaimed a "year of pain and fear" in the 1980s during a rash of violent attacks on abortion providers and clinics. Now it seems that our friend Joe has decided that contraception is the cause of most, if not all, of society's problems.
[img_assist|nid=598|title=Special Series|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=67]If, as a conference held September 22nd-23rd stated, "Contraception Is Not the Answer," what on earth is the question? Surely it was not, "What is the best way to reduce abortion?" No, the focus of the conference was the evil of contraception throughout society. The speakers presented a comprehensive attack escalating a new political strategy of the far right.
The pro-life organizers of the conference called the decidedly middle-class, white audience "brave" for making history attacking the "golden calf of contraception." According to the Centers for Disease Control, most American women who have had sex have used at least one contraceptive method at some point in their lives. Fr. Thomas Euteneuer told the gathering, "When you sow contraception, you reap abortion." Holding the majority of women in this country responsible for abortion demonstrates the extremism of their agenda.
Editor's note: Some of the links in this post are audio clips; click on them to listen to Allan Carlson in a new window.
[img_assist|nid=598|title=Special Series|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=67]Welcome back to RH Reality Check's series about the emerging war on contraception. In this episode, I will analyze Allan Carlson's presentation on "The Emptied Quiver: The Protestant Embrace of Contraception." As the daughter of two Lutheran ministers, I found Carlson's narrow take on Christianity, Martin Luther and the burden of families on clergy particularly interesting. His anti-feminist lecture examined Protestant roots against contraception and celibacy and their departure from that position, ending with an appeal for Protestants to return to their original opinion.
[img_assist|nid=598|title=Special Series|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=67]Two speakers at the "Contraception Is Not the Answer" conference used religion as their main argument against contraception. They used religion as a weapon to attempt to manipulate people into following their narrow beliefs. But it is important to remember that they do not represent the majority of conservatives, nor of Christians. This reality check is for the right and the left.
Editor's note: Some of the links in this post are audio clips; click on them to listen to Lionel Tiger in a new window.
[img_assist|nid=598|title=Special Series|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=67]At "Contraception Is Not the Answer", Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League introduced Lionel Tiger (his real name, I swear) as "an honest scientist" who was NOT coming from a religious conservative perspective. Every other speaker at the anti-contraception conference was from a conservative group or religious institution and obviously pushing an ideological agenda. But Lionel Tiger (and bears – oh my!) is the Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University. He was there because of his book "The Decline of Males", which Amazon describes as a counterpart to feminism ("masculinism") that chronicles the decline of men and the ascendancy of women – due to reproductive technology.
There has been a lot of news lately about declining birth rates and changes in population in various countries. Pro-population groups have used this opportunity to predict doom and gloom if people don’t start having more babies. Taking that approach, a demographer named Andrew Pollard discussed “Societal Suicide: The Profound Demographic Impact of Contraception” at the Contraception is Not the Answer conference. In contrast to the friendly, cheerful demeanor of the other speakers, Pollard sounded angry and vehement. He made some of the most outrageous statements I heard during the entire conference, which you can listen to in the audio clips at the end of this post.
[img_assist|nid=598|title=Special Series|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=67]Last week, while American anti-contraception activists gathered in Chicago to discuss how contraception (a.k.a. the "taproot" of abortion) is destroying America, a group of African health ministers and other African Union leaders met in Maputo, Mozambique to discuss how ensuring women's access to contraception and related sexual and reproductive health services might help Save Africa. Apparently, the African Union has not gotten the memo about how contraception is NOT the answer. But, in the great tradition of the Pro-Life Action League, it's time to take a closer look…
[img_assist|nid=598|title=Special Series|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=67]Joe Scheidler of Pro Life Action League is getting a little defensive about our special series and online advertising campaign addressing his recent conference entitled Contraception Is Not The Answer. In the very first sentence of his Action News Hotline he claimed that "More than 250 Pro-Life stalwarts, one pro-abortion spy, Tyler LePard, and several members of the press attended the first-ever national anti-contraception conference in Chicago Friday and Saturday."
Going into the anti-contraception conference in Chicago, I wasn't sure what to expect. I wanted to blend in, so I packed clothes that I deemed to be slightly formal, but wouldn't stand out. I wanted to look conservative and professional, but not too much like I'm from Washington, DC. Oh, and I needed to hide my tattoos and piercings, which involved wearing long-sleeve shirts and not opening my mouth too wide (which was an additional barrier to speaking up when I heard outrageous statements). I put on my cross necklace, wore skirts and plain tops, and ventured into the belly of the beast.
Since many anti-abortion groups have shied away from taking on contraception, I thought only radical extremists would gather to oppose something that is used by the majority of Americans. To my surprise, that was not the case.
As Scott mentioned when he introduced this series yesterday, I attended a conference in Chicago last weekend titled "Contraception Is Not the Answer." You may be wondering who would oppose an essential part of many Americans' lives – one that protects people from disease and helps them plan if, when, and how many children to have. Ian provided an insightful preview to the event with background information in Friday's blog. In this series I will address the main themes of the conference and provide a much-needed reality check on their arguments.