Why the conservative war on birth control makes no sense

By Lea Rose Emery

For many of us, birth control has been a huge part of our lives for years— or even decades. High school often meant going on the pill for problems with acne or, in my case, trying to control the unpredictable periods that come with PCOS. Popping a pill once a day seems like one of the more boring, innocuous things you can do, and yet it’s still a source of huge political controversy. And it’s just gotten worse with the Trump administration. 

The fight against birth control certainly isn’t a new one. The pill was approved in 1960 for public use and almost immediately some states banned the use of contraceptives. Though a 1965 Supreme Court case declared the ban unconstitutional, birth control has never stopped being controversial. And it’s only getting more divided. Birth control has been part of the larger war on women that’s taken place in the last 12 months. We’ve seen Trump hiring staffers like Katy Talento, who was apparently hired for her “strong rhetoric against birth control and abortion”, and has previously argued that birth control is “causing miscarriages of already-conceived children” (it doesn’t) and “breaking your uterus for good” (it won’t). So that’s someone we definitely want shaping the US health policy. 

It’s infuriating, it’s sexist, it’s backward— it’s a lot of horrible things. But even more than all of that: it just doesn’t make sense. It makes zero effing sense. Here’s why: 

1. Birth control is used for so many things

As I said, birth control was first used by a lot of us for issues that have nothing to do with sex. Acne, endometriosis, and irregular periods are just a few of the problems treated with birth control. Removing funding and birth control accessibility doesn’t mean women will have less sex, but it will deny them vital medical treatment.

2. Viagra gets covered— really 

Can we just talk about that in the constant battle to keep birth control from being covered by insurance, Viagra somehow gets to be included in coverage? That’s right, old dudes with wrinkly dicks can have sex for fun, but you can’t. Soz. 

3. It’s about women’s lives 

It’s not just about sex. One of the most nonsensical things about this debate is that Republicans get so overheated about a woman enjoying sex that they’re willing to make women’s lives miserable in an attempt to stop them from doing it. Birth control gives women independence and autonomy— it allows their lives to flourish. “The piece I think is often missed in the discussion around reproductive health care is that’s not about changes in contraceptive use and birth control," Martha Bailey, professor and co-author of "Access and Use of Contraception and Its Effects on Women's Outcomes in the U.S.", explains. "It’s really about changes in women’s ability and families' ability to invest in their careers and livelihood.”

4. Birth control is still available, it’s just more expensive

Also, let me just say that you can stop funding centers that provide the pill for free, you can stop allowing it to be covered by insurance, but it will still be available. And condoms will be too. And the coil... and every other method there is out there. It will just be prohibitively expensive. You won’t be stopping people from having sex, you won’t even be stopping people from using birth control. You’ll just be penalizing the most vulnerable in society who can’t afford birth control by putting them at risk for pregnancies they can’t afford. Well done. 

5. It’s bad for children 

Say it with me: children do better when there is family planning available. “One of the things we find is that the household income of the average child increased pretty dramatically after family planning programs were introduced," Bailey explained "Poverty rates for children fell. Single [parent household numbers] fell.” If you actually care about the lives of children, family planning and access to birth control will improve that. 

6. It puts a larger burden on the taxpayer

Oh, and if you think that the taxpayer shouldn’t have to fund this medical necessity (even though, you know, that’s what federal health funding is for), family planning programs are actually linked with lower reliance on public assistance. “Also, and this is pretty interesting, public assistance receipts of families fell,” Bailey added. 

7. The centers targeted do so much more

A lot of the funding cuts, like that of Title X funding, is obviously aimed at birth control and abortion, but affects centers that do so much more. From breast cancer screenings, STD tests and treatments, advice, and more, the attack on birth control leads to a loss of so much essential care— especially for those who can't afford to get it any other way. 

Finally, birth control is approved and legal. Abortion is approved and legal. There is nothing illegal or unnecessary about anything the GOP is trying to target. If what we’re doing is safe, necessary, and to our own damn bodies, then why the eff is it anyone else’s business? It’s not. But that’s the problem—the war on birth control is vindictive, it’s sexist, and it’s cruel. It’s not based on need or facts or logic. The conservative war on birth control makes no sense, but the truth is... they couldn't care less. That’s what’s so infuriating.

Image Source: Tony Futura

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