Analysis Contraception

Conservatives Aggressively Attack Contraception

Scott Swenson

There is no doubt that the coarseness of political life and the politics of personal destruction are tied to the rise of social conservative ideologues, and their fight against a woman's right to choose since Roe v. Wade. The advent of a "Culture War" was born out of a movement that opposed legalized abortion and pretended that was its only agenda for many years. But as religious belief turned from mission to power, the greatest of corrupting influences, the swagger of social ideologues and their control of the GOP, the White House, Congress, Courts, Governorships, State Legislatures and School Boards has them ready to take the next step, an all out war on contraception. This past weekend in Chicago, Joe Schieldler's Pro-Life Action League hosted 250 people at a conference entitled Contraception Is Not The Answer, opening a new strategic front to advance their ever-more narrow agenda, coming from an ever-expanding cast of ideologically motivated organizations. If conservatives think our culture is coarse now, its probably good to remind them that coarseness is coming less from people actually having sex responsibly than it is from the way uptight ideologues and corporate marketeers and others talk about sex, making it seem clinical and shameful on one extreme, or detached and less sacred on the other. Take the average American's contraception away and its a safe bet life will be more coarse as people's tension increases. One of those 250 people attending the two-day conference was Rewire's Associate Editor, Tyler LePard.

There is no doubt that the coarseness of political life and the politics of personal destruction are tied to the rise of social conservative ideologues, and their fight against a woman’s right to choose since Roe v. Wade. The advent of a “Culture War” was born out of a movement that opposed legalized abortion and pretended that was its only agenda for many years. But as religious belief turned from mission to power, the greatest of corrupting influences, the swagger of social ideologues and their control of the GOP, the White House, Congress, Courts, Governorships, State Legislatures and School Boards has them ready to take the next step, an all out war on contraception.

This past weekend in Chicago, Joe Schieldler’s Pro-Life Action League hosted 250 people at a conference entitled Contraception Is Not The Answer, opening a new strategic front to advance their ever-more narrow agenda, coming from an ever-expanding cast of ideologically motivated organizations. If conservatives think our culture is coarse now, its probably good to remind them that coarseness is coming less from people actually having sex responsibly than it is from the way uptight ideologues and corporate marketeers and others talk about sex, making it seem clinical and shameful on one extreme, or detached and less sacred on the other. Take the average American’s contraception away and its a safe bet life will be more coarse as people’s tension increases.

One of those 250 people attending the two-day conference was Rewire’s Associate Editor, Tyler LePard.

Tyler is busily preparing a special series of reporting from the weekend’s conference and we will be debuting that coverage tomorrow and throughout this week, offering reality checks to the conference speakers, and a wake up call to America: Elections aren’t just about abortion any more, and never should have been.

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But as Joe Schielder said at his conference this weekend, his group believes that “contraception is the root cause of abortion,” something that fully 81% of Americans would disagree with.

Fr. Thomas Euteneurer of Human Life International called for an end to “contraceptive welfare,” that tried and true code word favored amongst so many social ideologues. On that point, 73% of Americans believe access to birth control should not be limited to a person’s ability to pay for it.

The reality is many voters are seeing the conservative social agenda as a matter of convenience used by some to win power, and are waking up to the reality that while abortion is something that is difficult for any family to deal with, thus a political wedge issue playing on people’s emotions, the real agenda of the social conservatives is not anti-abortion, it is anti-sex.

People don’t have to be sexually active to realize how unrealistic that is, and how pursuing that agenda says so much about what conservatives really care about, control and power over people’s lives. Making people who use contraception to responsibly plan families feel like they are doing something wrong doesn’t sound like a winning political strategy, but then again, as Kate Looby points out in her piece today, the South Dakota legislature felt the need to specifically state that residents could use contraception in their law banning abortion.

Many social conservatives are growing restless, caught between the reality that they have been taken advantage of by the Bush Adminsitration’s complete control of government and its failure to deliver on their entire agenda, and their fear of losing control. In 2008, the far-right’s presidential hopefuls, Senators Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum and George Allen are all long shots against the McCain juggernaut, and two of them (Allen and Santorum) may not make it past 2006. James Dobson of Focus on the Family is now sucking it up and getting ready to help save the GOP majority. His efforts come on the heals of public boasting by the GOP that this will be the most personal campaign ever fought as their candidates run uphill against an unpopular war, a less popular President and the reality of a do-nothing Congress.

Contraception is an important part of life in every advanced country on the planet and is one part of the solution to many problems faced by women and girls around the world if the Bush Administration would listen to public health experts and not the attendees of this conference. Stay tuned all this week for special coverage of all the details from this conference and the real story on the war on contraception, straight from the conference that was held to plan it.

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