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What’s the Impact of Denying Safe Contraception to Women?

While Andy Hammond continues his enlightened viewpoint that women who want birth control are nothing more than promiscuous miscreants who want the federal government to subsidize their totally unnecessary sexuality, people in the reality-based community are measuring the impact of conservative social policy on the health of women, and the results are deeply troubling.

Now if this were just Andy, it probably wouldn’t matter. In Montana, unfortunately, we are seeing the ideology translate into policy. In recent months

  • Broadus pharmacist John Lane has announced his intention to “save humanity” by denying access to birth control;
  • Snyder Drug in Great Falls has announced plans to stop filling birth control prescriptions for “moral and business” reasons;
  • College students faced enormous increases in the cost of contraception;
  • Representative Rehberg voted to deny federal funding for family planning services for hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans.

What happens when a nation, dominated by a conservative orthodoxy about sexuality, restricts access to safe contraception? The very abortions conservatives decry. Increased teenage birth rate. Increased infant mortality. Health complications for women. The social burden of unwanted children. Financial instability.

When the United States lags behind Croatia and Cuba in terms of the safety of pregnancy and childbirth, it doesn’t take much of a social scientist to realize that we need to do more, not less, to ensure safe, affordable access to family planning in the United States.

Despite the tone of Andy’s posts, access to family planning is not a joke. It’s a serious subject with repercussions for real people and society as a whole. Andy and social conservatives may be “astounded” that people believe affordable access to health care should exist for everyone, but isn’t it more astounding that we would tolerate denying access to family planning to satisfy a minority, conservative opinion?

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • Times like this, I think that the problem with way too many conservatives is that they’ve internalized the idea that government is incapable of actually changing anything to the extent that they view all policy as symbolic.

    And, as symbols, just as we should tell people to be abstinent, our policy should only espouse abstinence.

    The government is a bully pulpit, nothing more.

  • On the contrary. Government is not a bully pulpit. It is the machinery of death. And right now, with politics so polarized, we are at a place where we can select from a particularly reactionary bunch of people. All politics is sliding to the right. Take Mitt Romney, whose political compass rating is only slightly less authoritarian that Adolf Hitler’s. This person, despite the attempts by the left blogosphere to discredit him, is a definite possibility. Furthermore, Bush has demonstrated time and time again that the government is not a bully pulpit. The government is capable of suspending the Constitution in toto, because even though the PATRIOT Act is as far as things have gone thus far, the spirit of passivity is sufficiently widespread that anything can justify total suspension of the law, at which point the government will be exposed for what it is, the rule of force, not the rule of law.

  • So show me where I say “women who want birth control are nothing more than promiscuous miscreants who want the federal government to subsidize their totally unnecessary sexuality” or anything near that.

    Women can do whatever they want sexually. I really don’t care. I just don’t think taxpayers should subsidize their birth control any more than I think taxpayers should subsidize my Lovastatin.

    What’s wrong with expecting a little self control and personal responsibility?

  • So, do you think the federal government should not subsidize health care at all? If so, it seems odd that you single out family planning. If not, why do you exclude family planning?

    As to your first question…I think you answered that in your comment.

  • I doubt you’ll be back, because your typing the big words to get here twice seems unlikely, but you might want to consider doing some reading about the subject of health care.

    Reproductive health is a critical component of health care. Abortions, which can be performed for many reasons, including the health of the mother, are part of health care. Birth control pills are also used a number of additional health functions, according to the National Institutes of Health:

    treat heavy or irregular menstruation and endometriosis (a condition in which the type of tissue that lines the uterus [womb] grows in other areas of the body and causes pain, heavy or irregular menstruation [periods], and other symptoms).

    And I’m a moron?

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