GOP: Yes to Contraception for Wild Horses, No for Women

Jodi Jacobson

Anti-choicers in Congress have made it a priority to eliminate access to contraception for women here and abroad. But you'll be happy to know at least one group got access. Wild horses.

During a month in which the anti-choice Republican and Tea Party majority in Congress and in many states have made it their priority mission to eliminate access to contraception for women here and abroad, and on the very same day that the House planned to vote to take away birth control for women living in poverty in the US and eliminate funding for international family planning, you will be happy to know that there is at least one group the GOP believes deserves access to contraception.

Wild horses.

Just a little while ago, according to reports from the House floor, a vote was held on an amendment introduced by Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN) to prevent the Bureau of Land Management from holding wild horses in pens and then slaughtering them.

Instead, says Burton, they should pursue “a much less costly and more human option – immunocontraception…”.

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The amendment, as stated by Burton, is intended to reduce the Bureau of Land Management’s budget by $2 million and send a signal that the agency must reform its enormously wasteful and misguided program of capturing wild horses and burros and holding them in pens, rather than employing a much less costly and more humane option – immunocontraception to control herd size. 

“Despite objections raised by Members of Congress, BLM continues its round up and removal policy, and is currently holding approximately 46,000 horses in pens.  Total holding costs in FY10 were $36.9 million.”

Text of amendment:  H.R. 1 OFFERED BY: MR. BURTON AMENDMENT NO. 485: At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following: SEC. ll. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for the gathers and removals of free-roaming wild horses and burros, except for the purpose of fertility control.

I agree that holding wild horses in pens is cruel and unusual punishment and that it is more humane to use this option.

What mystifies me is this: Access to contraception and other reproductive health services for low-income women and women struggling in poverty in the United States saves nearly $4.00 for every $1.00 spent by the federal government.  Programs like Title X, which Burton and his comrades in the House are intent on gutting this same day, offer essential preventive services–detection and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, screening for breast and cervical cancer, contraception to plan families, and a wealth of other otherwise unavailable health services. These programs reduce the need for abortion, allow families to plan, reduce disease, and save countless dollars in reduced mortality and improved public health.

As I wrote this morning, eliminating international family planning funding–another amendment put forth today–would result in nearly 8 million more unintended pregnancies among women living in poverty in other countries; an additional 3.7 million abortions, and 87,000 infant deaths this year alone. 

Is this not cruel and unusual?

The House held a voice vote, apparently led by men too ashamed to go on record admitting that wild horses–no matter how worthy of our concern–garner more concern from the GOP than do thinking, breathing, sentient women worried every day how to feed and clothe and house their families.


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