File Under “Duh”

I know that evidence and data–let alone logic–are irrelevant to single-issue voters. This is especially true of the more rabid anti-choice warriors intent not just on preventing abortion but also on limiting women’s access to birth control.

Even reasonable anti-choice activists agree with the majority of Americans that easier access to birth control will reduce the incidence of abortion.

A recent study once again confirms that assertion.

Countries with the most restrictive abortion laws also have the highest rates of abortion, the study by the Guttmacher Institute found. Easier access to birth control drives down abortion rates, the report also finds.

Despite the fact that in his former life, Trump declared himself pro-choice , his Health and Human Services Department has reversed Obama era policies that made contraception more freely available and that used evidence-based approaches to fight teen pregnancy — over the objections of career health officials.

A 2012 study of more than 9,000 women found that when women got no-cost birth control, the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions fell by between 62 and 78 percent. But political appointees at HHS advocate for abstinence-only approaches, which have been shown not to affect unplanned pregnancy rates.

Confirmation that more birth control equals fewer abortions ought to elicit a “no shit, Sherlock” reaction. Abortions typically terminate pregnancies that were unwanted; avoid those unwanted pregnancies and you avoid their termination. Duh.

Given that both logic and evidence support measures to reduce the incidence of abortions by making birth control widely available and easy to access, the obvious question becomes: why are anti-choice zealots so determined to restrict access to contraception?

The only answer to that question that passes the smell test is opposition to women’s autonomy.

The belief that women are “lesser vessels” is often rooted in fundamentalist religious beliefs about the proper roles of men and women. In those communities, men are to rule and women are to submit. But non-fundamentalist culture also plays a role; for eons, prior to the development of reliable birth control, women of childbearing age were dependent upon men, and the social roles that evolved reflected that dependency. It hasn’t been all that long, in historical terms, that contraception freed women from biological inevitability, and allowed us to choose the trajectories of our own lives.

There are sincere people among those who oppose abortion, people who genuinely believe that a zygote or fetus is morally equivalent to a human person. They are entitled to their beliefs, and entitled to try to convince others of their validity (although in a religiously diverse country, where different religions take very different approaches to this issue, they are not entitled to impose those beliefs upon women who do not share them.)

The people who want to restrict women’s access to contraception, however, are not genuinely anti-abortion. They’re anti-woman.


  1. “The people who want to restrict women’s access to contraception, however, are not genuinely anti-abortion. They’re anti-woman.”

    Any statistics on the percentage of men against birth control and who are anti-choice vs. women who hold those beliefs? It would also be interesting to know the age range of those men against birth control and who are anti-choice; do we assume their beliefs are based in religion (gimme that old time religion) or simply maintaining control (keeping their women barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen)? Should the founding fathers have included control/protection of women’s medical choices and that of sexual orientation of all in the Constitution…or were they wise enough to know they are not political or governmental issues?

    Speaking of statistics; another AOL headline today stated that most Americans believe Trump could not be reelected in 2020. This information came from a CNN requested poll by – again – SSRS; searching further it reported the poll was done between March 22 – 25, by telephoning 1,014 people. The exact same SSRS polling dates and number of those telephoned with poll results reported on CNN regarding Trump’s “major new record” 42% approval rate I commented on in the “Civic Saturdays” blog on March 27th. Just sayin’

  2. I think there is also a somewhat salacious element to the anti-birth control / pro-abstinence crowd – they just can’t stand the thought of all those young unmarried people having sex! Thinking about other people’s sex lives all the time must make them crazy (and guilty!)

  3. Holly wrote

    “Thinking about other people’s sex lives all the time must make them crazy (and guilty!)”

    Reminds me of the Rev Pence

  4. Can I also point out that many of those “pro-life” people have no problem with capital punishment? Pro-lfe only pre-birth, apparently.

  5. Liberals are demonized over this issue. Fundamentalists want the media to condemn sex out of wedlock, abortion, birth control, etc.

    The Bible is the text of record. Anything deviating from their text is considered Liberalism – the Devil.

    Rigid beliefs in the USA are no different than any other religion who has cultish followings. If education creates a more open mind, that is the work of the Devil.

    This crowd is easily manipulated by politicians and media personalities. The Koch’s love this crowd because they don’t have to spend their precious money on them.

    What’s hilarious is watching them squirm over Trump’s adultery and all his other immoral acts. Closed-minded people are never wrong so they’ve come up with creative justifications for not condemning Trump.

    Do you see theses fanatics uniting with liberals?

  6. “Despite the fact that in his former life, Trump declared himself pro-choice , his Health and Human Services Department has reversed Obama era policies that made contraception more freely available and that used evidence-based approaches to fight teen pregnancy — over the objections of career health officials.”

    Yes, the hypocrisy is nauseating. The Trump administration is so terminally afflicted with the Obama Derangement Syndrome, that they will reject and repeal anything and everything from that administration out of spite. These are really, really emotionally bankrupt people.

    When I taught science in Texas, I was required to teach an “abstinence only” segment of the curriculum. The general attitude of the students was: “Thanks for your effort, but this is just another adult thing trying to control what we do. If we want to have sex, we’re going to have sex no matter what you or the state says.”

    No wonder the world sees us as a backward country. Our “leaders” continue to prove this thesis to be true.

  7. Anti abortion is about more babies not fewer abortions. God apparently still believes that more humans are required for them to “hold dominion” over lessor life and support the Pope’s Palace and all of the jr aristocracy.

  8. Social issues do have social costs. Any liberal unfamiliar with the Monyihan Report needs to do remedial education. As for the serial bastards produced Aquinas was of the view that the essence of the sin of fornication was a sin against society. There was also a sin against the child…but I haven’t read Aquinas on this for a long time.

  9. Let’s not forget that the Catholic Church forbade all forms of birth control except for the rhythm method. Given that fundamentalists believe that the sole purpose of sex is procreation, I’m surprised the Church even made that exception. Any rational human being realizes that human sexuality is a lot more complicated than mere survival of the species. But when you look at it through the prism of religious beliefs only, you ignore the other perhaps more important aspects of human relationships and treat all sexual behavior not intended to produce children as sinful. This narrow view of human sexuality poisons virtually every related issue from women’s rights to gay marriage.

  10. “The Bible is the text of record. Anything deviating from their text is considered Liberalism – the Devil.”

    Todd; regarding the above copied and pasted quote, do you know where in the Bible it refers to birth control and/or abortion? I don’t remember learning that in any of the Bible studies I attended in Baptist churches…and they would be the first to preach it from the pulpit as well as teach it in Bible studies. Where do the Republicans find their source in Bibles to base laws on?

  11. Quotes by H. L. Mencken

    Puritanism. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

    It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry.

    I suppose for the Pence types, the idea of wining and dining a woman and foreplay is out of the question, since having sex because it feels good must be sinful. Burn the Kama Sutra, wham, bam, thank you Mam would be the proper technique.

  12. Until 1965, states could and did have laws prohibiting doctors or others from dispensing contraception information or devices even to MARRIED couples.
    In Indiana, a former female State Senator was a shrill opponent of contraception as well as abortion because, she argued, without the fear of pregnancy, women and teenagers would become more promiscuous. In essence unwanted babies were a desireable means to the end of controlling their mothers. This same State Senator complained loudly about women having more and more babies just to get more money in their welfare checks.
    So she didn’t support abortions OR the contraception which prevented abortions OR the assistance to feed and care for the babies which were born into poverty. To put it as kindly as I can, her brand of Christianity was different from mine.

  13. I’m told that the “be fruitful and multiply” command is the source of all this nonsense. The fundamentalists interpret fruitful and multiply as the same thing. God only expects us to reproduce and have dominion over the wild beasts. I don’t think God set the bar this low. And if you read through the Bible, especially the New Testament, being fruitful has a very different meaning than multiplying like jackrabbits. Being fruitful is about doing good things and it’s mentioned ahead of multiply. We were given a lot more talent and intelligence to do something with our lives other than breed.

  14. Women bear the brunt of abortion politics, though the rules are made by men, from popes to TV preachers to politicians. My fellow commentators have not (so far) commented upon another reality in this abortion arena, to wit: the death of thousands if not millions of women as well as their fetuses resulting from the use of back alley coat hangers, fish hooks, “falling down the stairs,” etc. The killer peritonitis is one of the deadly results of such primitive means of aborting. Is this the result popes, preachers and politicians want as opposed to safe, legal abortions which are proven to be greatly reduced with the availability of contraceptive devices and chemicals?

    I was reminded of how women are at the forefront of this issue by something I read recently. The Crown prior to Indian independence appointed an Englishman to govern Sind (present day Pakistan) and one of the first things the new governor did was to abolish suttee (the Hindu custom of requiring widows to jump into the funeral pyres of their deceased husbands). Hindu priests immediately descended on his office and told him that he could not do this, that such a custom was a long-standing tradition within their history etc. I loved his reply: “Yes, and we have a long-standing tradition in my country for men who kill their wives – we hang them.” Personally, I prefer the Occidental method.

    Priests, popes, politicians and TV preachers will never be confronted with the choices women have to make in this connection, are only peripherally involved and barely real parties in interest, and should yield such decisions to those most vitally affected – women. It’s their body and, so far, this is not a police state.

  15. There seems to be a white supremacist theme underlying the fundamentalist surge. Every “christian” argument the fundamentalists make can be contradicted by facts or directly from biblical sources which then exposes the underlying racism

  16. Gail – Good insight. The bible is not a set of rules; it is the history of a society and the rules they happened to have to deal with their then problems. We can read their history, adopt or decline to adopt their rules, and like they did, make our own rules to fit today’s realities. For instance, the “Be fruitful and multiply” order from on high does not make sense in today’s world where continents are overflowing with humanity creating their own stress on our natural environment. We also have longer lifespans now what with antibiotics and preventive medicines, which increase the stress longer lives level on our natural environment.
    Thus health codes found their way into moral codes as Jews and Muslims refused to eat pork (trichinosis exposure), drank wine to escape the filthy water etc. We, in my opinion, are not bound to such ancient strictures based on their problems then which are not present today, and I am reminded in such connection with a statement Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once made in an appeal > “The reason for the rule has long since disappeared, but the rule persists.” We need to bring our abortion rules (among others) up to date based on current realities, not the realities King David and medieval monks faced in their day where “the reason for the rule has long since disappeared, but the rule persists.”

  17. Has anyone ever asked themselves why human females generally have a 28 day estrus cycle? Or, why do human males produce hundreds of millions of sperm cells EVERY DAY? Here are some answers that are not based on religion, or control of women:

    Humans evolved as a very fragile, but clever species that was subjected to high rates of attrition through infant mortality, un-hospitalized female mortality rates at childbirth and high rates of male mortality in the hunting/gathering environment of 200,000 years ago. Add to that diseases that are known and unknown to us today. Males, females and the young were also prime food sources for a number of predators, especially leopards. There are museums full of materials proving this point.

    Since male humans evolved from apes that were also sexually di-morphic ( males and females being of different body types and behaviors), they exhibit “alpha male” dominance in the tribe much like sea lions, gorillas and chimps do. Why? Because apes, humans and sea lions, et. al., – among others – evolved with the most aggressive and dominate genes being perpetuated to ensure survival of the species. The more aggressive the male human, the more food he produced. That said, the attrition of these males was relatively high due to encounters with the meat animals they needed to kill to provide the necessary nutrition and energy for their large brains.

    The bottom line, therefore, is that the females of the tribe had to be in a more or less constant state of pregnancy in order to offset the high attrition. The dominant male(s) had the genetic responsibility to keep those females pregnant as much as possible. One only has to notice other living things that produce far more offspring than the environment can possibly support. They do this to overcome the biological imperatives associated with natural selection or punctuated equilibrium – or both – seen throughout the history of life on Earth.

    We “modern” humans have become so arrogant that we think we are actually the idea of God. Well, our population was only about 2 billion around the turn of the 20th century, and this was after subduing all the wild animals that ate us in the past. Then we invented antibiotics and advanced medical/surgical procedures. The population of humans quadrupled since then to the point where we are the most populous mammal on Earth, even higher than the ubiquitous wharf rat. Oh, and since those rats also evolved as a prey species, they too have short estrus cycles.

    Sorry for the lecture, but I just wanted to point out that the efforts of religion to define our sexuality are mostly incorrect. To wit: How about those fools in Texas who are trying to make male masturbation illegal and carry the death penalty for murdering unborn potential babies? Maybe Darwin WAS wrong and that we haven’t evolved at all from our most primitive roots.

  18. All the anti-choice folks are just pro-birth, not pro-life. If they were really pro-life they’d give a damn about the babies once they get here!

  19. Vernon; I have hoped for years that medical research would look into somehow cross-breeding human males with male sea horses who carry the fertilized eggs in their pouch to maturity and give birth. That would end the problem of male domination over contraceptives and abortions. In reading this often publicized issue, pro and con regarding lack of contraceptive availability and pro-life, it hasn’t been explained why most insurance coverage approves erectile dysfunction supply provisions. Have they not made the connection between these two issues?

  20. “why most insurance coverage approves erectile dysfunction supply provisions”

    more babies – no wasted sperm *sigh*

  21. Well, not being a Woman myself, but having been a Nurse; An ounce of prevention has always been worth a pound of cure… Why people cannot understand it is the individual choice of the Woman involved – as her Human Fundamental Right to Her own body. It is the Woman’s right to choose – not mine – or not anyone else’s. Hers alone. And contraception is only LOGICAL and RIGHT, especially in our world!

  22. Respect life, including the life that’s already here! Birth-control is how people can take care of themselves, and is a personal choice. If pre-conception b.c. is available & used then abortions could be greatly diminished. I find it odd that some people are so into what others are doing sexually & classifying & judging it! It’s a complete act of dis-respect!

  23. Like Nancy, I have too many foul words for this debate and will let it go at that.

  24. Fruitful. Multiply.
    Consider: plotting the growth in physical size of human beings has been done and recorded by almost every country that ever fielded an army. The data is vast and spans centuries. But what do those data tell us? Plotted on a graph and extended a few thousand years into the future, the size of the human animal will surpass the size of the dinosaurs. Imagine the problems associated with that size combined with the projected population of the planet. Might it not be wise to encourage abortions, mandate them perhaps?

  25. I wish we could stop using the phrase “pro-life”. Once the child is born, so-called pro-lifers don’t give a shit about the kid. They despise all sort of measures that make it a little easier for the poor to raise a healthy, happy child — Medicaid, aide to families, food stamps, good education, etc.. And let’s face it — rich women will always be able to access legal abortion somewhere. Closing clinics in the US hurts the women least able to care for a child they can’t afford. These folks should be called “forced-birthers” since there is little “pro-life” about them. And as far as birth control is concerned. IMO it should be put in all of the water in the high schools!

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