The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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March 15, 2012

War on birth control shuts down many women's access to health care

I'm responding to Larry Griffin's Feb. 28 letter.

First, I was referencing South Dakota's attempted mandatory three-day

pre-abortion waiting period ­ rightly blocked in federal court, based on the

Supreme Court's 1992 ruling that abortion restrictions not impose an "undue

burden" on women seeking abortion.(1) Even more extreme, and also rightly

blocked in court, was South Dakota's attempt to force women seeking abortion

to first "confide" in, and endure "counseling" by, an anti-abortion "crisis

pregnancy center" employee. Would you want government forcing you to

disclose this private matter ­ to a stranger?

Second, Griffin claims my position is "pro-abortion." Wrong: Pro-choice

doesn't equal "pro-abortion." I believe many pro-choice individuals, myself

included, would accept some abortion restrictions, especially late in

pregnancy ­ but still not share anti-abortionists' Gospel Truth that life

begins immediately at conception ­ which Griffin's letter unquestioningly


Third, Griffin praises ultrasound requirements ­ obviously to persuade

abortion-minded women to flee pell-mell. He cites one anti-abortionist's

anecdote as "evidence." Here¹s more scientific evidence, citing a neutral

source and numerous cases: A 2009 study found "not one woman" changed her mind about abortion after viewing a mandatory ultrasound image.(2)

As I've argued, (3) utterly unrebutted, the Religious Right's true

(backhanded) agenda, is Draconian government control of women's sexuality.

That's obvious, considering this crowd's full agenda: Criminalizing all

abortions, even for rape and incest victims; support of ridiculous

"abstinence only" sex education for teens;(4) and roadblocking women¹s

access to birth control (which, for many Religious Right devotees, is

automatically, end of story, a license for promiscuity.(5) The right's war

on birth control proceeds even to the point of shutting down many women's

access to health care altogether ­ already seen in Texas.(6)

(1) Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992);


(2) Scroll down to "Issue #2."



(4) On sex-education curricula in public schools, the Religious Right's relentless crusade has been for "abstinence only" sex education ­ or no sex education whatsoever. The defining feature of "abstinence only" curricula is that any and all information about birth control is withheld from young people ­ even when they ask for it!

"Abstinence only" curricula are designed to railroad young people into

thinking that the only way to avoid pregnancy is to not have sex, end of

story. Given the variety of birth control methods, many highly effective,

out there, that's flatly medically wrong. To be clear: Abstinence is an

important part of any sex-education curriculum ­ but it cannot be the only part. Given our sexualized society and increasingly late ages at which

people are marrying, insisting on "abstinence only" and withholding birth

control information is unrealistic and flat-out antediluvian. [5]

; scroll down to near the end. Sandra

Fluke, the Georgetown University law student blocked from testifying on the

birth control issue by congressional Republicans, and called a slut and a

prostitute by right-wing hero Rush Limbaugh for it, testified to a

Democratic congressional panel that birth control methods are sometimes

medically indicated for women (like her friend) with certain medical

conditions, like ovarian cysts. For the full text of her testimony, see

. (6) Incredibly, Texas'

Republican-forced extreme cuts to women's health care, virtually entirely

motivated by the anti-abortion crusade, have meant many, especially poor,

women cannot obtain health care whatsoever. Appalling indeed, and equally

outrageous, is the case of a woman with a lump in her breast who can no

longer get it checked out because she is poor, lacks transportation and

Republican health-care cuts have forced clinics near her to close.


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