Well, I for one am breathing a huge sigh of relief that the Bush administration supports the availability of safe and effective products and services to assist responsible adults in making decisions about preventing or delaying conception—even if the Administration’s statement makes something as simple as birth control sound like a weapons-of-mass-destruction-related program activity. I’m not just relieved because, as a responsible adult who is not yet ready to become a mother, I can finally start having sex again. I’m relieved because now it’s official: we are living at a moment in history when the president of the United States will not use the words “contraception” or “birth control” for fear of offending his voting base.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) was quick to ask some important follow-up questions in response to the Administration’s statement. Actually, I have a couple follow-up questions of my own. First, what about the 89 percent of us who believe that information about birth control should be more accessible? Why isn’t anyone afraid of alienating us?And second, are we to infer from this statement that the Bush administration opposes making safe and effective products and services to assist in making decisions about preventing or delaying conception available to irresponsible adults? I guess it’s consistent, though, since the Administration also believes that a 16-year-old girl who is too immature to have sex, too immature to use birth control, too immature to access emergency contraception, and too immature to have an abortion, is definitely mature enough to become a parent.
Of course, there’s more. Even the Administration’s tepid admission of support for birth control—its foot-dragging, more-than-one-year-late agreement not to criminalize contraception just yet—required a qualifier. I don’t recall anyone asking, but in case you were wondering, “Additionally, this Administration strongly supports teaching abstinence to young people as the only 100 percent effective means of preventing pregnancy, HIV, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).”
It’s only a matter of time before the word “young” mysteriously disappears from this sentence. The federal government is already sending women on welfare to marriage classes, how long will it be before it starts shipping irresponsible adults off to abstinence classes as well? Women aged 20 and up account for nearly 80 percent of all unintended pregnancies, after all. And check out what just happened in Missouri, according to the LA Times:
This spring in Missouri, state Rep. Susan Phillips shot down a proposal to subsidize birth control for low-income women. That would be like subsidizing promiscuity, she argued. Phillips, a Republican, explained by e-mail: "It is my hope that reducing access to contraception for recreational users and those not prepared to parent will give them time to consider the consequences" of having sex. That "sex has consequences" message is pushed on teens through TV shows, magazines, movies and schools; some experts say it's time to extend that campaign to adults as well.
Yes, leave it to the experts to inform us that abstinence is indeed an excellent way to avoid the consequences of sex—just like never getting in a car is an excellent way to avoid getting hurt in a car accident, since seatbelts just encourage people to drive recklessly. Didn’t Rep. Susan Phillips get the memo about how the Bush administration supports the availability of safe and effective products and services to assist responsible adults in making decisions about preventing or delaying conception? Or do we have to put it on a bumper sticker?