Anti-Science and Anti-Contraception
How can it be that we are firmly into the 21st century and reading claims that birth control pills can cause prostate cancer and abort babies? Or, my personal favorite, that a woman can be considered pregnant before her egg unites with a sperm?
Such falsehoods are being touted not by yahoos but by educated conservatives who, in growing numbers, choose to ignore what science tells them.
According to a paper in a recent American Sociological Review, conservatives with at least a bachelor’s degree have, over the last several decades, lost their faith in science to an amazing degree. Although the paper doesn’t cite advances in contraception specifically, they are clearly one victim of this disaffection.
Our country’s top health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, counts contraception as one of the 10 greatest health achievements of the 20th century. Yet recently:
— A state legislator from New Hampshire, opposed to insurance companies being required to pay for birth control, called attention to a report suggesting that birth control pills cause prostate cancer. (Certain drugs in those pills become waste and eventually pass into the environment, according to the report, exposing men to carcinogens.)
The representative based her statement on findings that originally appeared in the British Medical Journal, findings that one author of the study later characterized as only a hypothesis, and were seriously questioned in a subsequent BMJ article.
— Some members of Congress, in their attempt to derail legislation requiring insurers, including the insurers of some religious organizations, to cover birth control, falsely argued that Plan B, the “morning after” pill taken after sex in order to avoid pregnancy, causes abortions.