Anti-Contraception Politics in Iowa

Lynda Waddington

As the competition for the Iowa caucus heats up, candidates attempt to out-do one another opposing contraception. Romney, Brownback and Tancredo lead the charge.

Iowa's first statewide anti-abortion group is among 86 such organizations that have committed to opposing all forms of contraception.

Iowans for LIFE (Life Is For Everyone) has joined a coalition of anti-abortion groups under the umbrella of the American Life League and, by joining, has signed a document in opposition to not only abortion but all contraceptives and in vitro fertilization.

… Human life is a miraculous gift from God. Moreover, it is the crowning gift to the loving union of man and woman. When barriers are put in place to block the gift of life and when the gift of life is controlled through science and technology, children easily become viewed as commodities, or material "things," instead of gifts. Respect for human life is impossible without respect for conjugal union. Contraceptive acts and reproductive technologies that manipulate or replace conjugal union are a rejection of the gift of life – and most often include the foreseen deaths of tiny children.

Abortion will never end as long as society approves the use of contraception. The practice of contraception means children are unwanted and provides the rationalization for abortion. It is a violation of human dignity to promote or accept the use of contraception.

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Artificial methods of reproduction (in vitro fertilization, "test tube" babies), likewise, are immoral because they involve the laboratory production and destruction of children. This is the same mentality that is used to rationalize destructive human embryo research, human cloning and the sacrifice of tiny children for research. It is a violation of human dignity to promote or accept the use of such technologies because they seek to manipulate and destroy the gift of life. …

Coalition members who have also agreed to the document range from the California Right to Life Committee to the New York City Catholic Resource for the Unborn Child.

As if that news isn't chilling enough, recent statements and actions by Republican presidential hopefuls seem to have been geared to give voice for their approval.

Christina Page wrote an article in the Baltimore Sun and a post on Huffington Post documenting what she describes as "the quiet campaign against birth control." The players are Iowa Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback and Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo.

She reports that Romney, while addressing the National Right to Life committee, said, "I fought to define life as beginning at contraception rather than at the time of implantation." This, she says, sends a clear signal to the advocacy groups that the politician is willing to oppose the birth control pill and other contraceptives.

These words also mark a profound change of position. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney ordered Catholic hospitals to administer emergency contraception to women who claimed they had been raped.

Brownback has stated at Iowa events that he believes life "begins and should be protected from the moment of conception."

As advocates for family planning look back a year ago to approval of over-the-counter emergency contraception, they should not forget what was said in opposition. At that time Brownback stated his disappointment with President George Bush for allowing access to Plan B.

"I am saddened at any step that increases the number of abortions and increases the loss of life," he said to writer Amanda Carpenter of Human Events Publishing. "It is reckless to allow an overdose of a prescription drug to be offered over the counter."

Tancredo went one step further: "The morning-after pill cheapens human life, and simply uses a woman's body to dispose of the child instead of a doctor. It also puts them in harm's way by making it more accessible, when studies have yet to be completed on its effect on young women."

As Belle Taylor-McGhee of Pharmacy Access Partnership points out it does little good to attempt correction of the scientifically proven errors in both politicians' statements. "Women's reproductive health," she writes, "continues to be mired in politics rather than addressed with responsible public policy solutions."

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Reproductive rights are a public health issue. That's a fact.

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