The War on Contraception Goes Mainstream
Last week, the progressive blogosphere was full of articles about the War on Contraception. They were largely motivated, of course, by the Catholic Church’s fight to forbid insurance-provided birth control to employees of religious organizations, and Obama’s “compromise.”
But after a year of coordinated assaults on Planned Parenthood, “personhood” initiatives that stood to make oral contraceptives illegal, and other bizarre attacks on protected sex, we hardly need a reason to talk. The war has been declared; the battle lines are drawn; “not getting pregnant” is the new abortion.
But in the midst of all this a few questions stood out. Namely: How is it that in a country where 99 percent of women have used birth control we are fighting over whether people should be able to get birth control? How did a position this extreme and alienated from the will of the people enter mainstream political conversation?
“People are talking about ‘Oh, the war on contraception has begun.’ It hasn’t begun,” author Christina Page told me. “What’s begun is that we finally have the agenda in its full bloom in Congress.”
In her book How The Pro-Choice Movement Saved America, Page argues that right-wing attacks on abortion are cover for a far more radical agenda. The real target of organized anti-choicers, she says, is not abortion. Abortion is just the divisive, emotional topic used to mobilize grassroots support. The real target of the organized anti-choice movement-as opposed to individuals who are anti-abortion-has always been birth control. Page told me she’s been recommending since 2008 that reporters ask all GOP candidates about their position on contraception.
“The media wasn’t willing,” she says, “because they thought asking made them look foolish.”
But in fact all current GOP presidential candidates have publicly opposed contraceptive access.