News Contraception

“The Pill Kills” Protesters Unwittingly Help Hundreds of North Texans Get Contraception

Andrea Grimes

A Catholic group claims contraceptives kill women, children and marriage, despite scientific evidence to the contrary. Rather than refute preposterous claims, Planned Parenthood raised nearly $7,000 in response to protesters.

Planned Parenthood employees and volunteers thank anti-choice protesters for helping raise funds.

Planned Parenthood employees and volunteers thank anti-choice protesters for helping raise funds.

After an 8 a.m. mass last Saturday morning, nearly 100 anti-choice protesters gathered outside a Dallas Planned Parenthood clinic to sing, pray and spread the good news: ignorant, sex-crazed women across the country are killing children, marriage and themselves by using contraceptives.

Holding aloft crosses aimed at pro-choice activists and signs depicting infant children–“Take my hand, not my life,” one read–a group of Catholics celebrating the American Life League’s annual “Protest The Pill Day” unwittingly helped raise $6,710 to provide packs of pills to poor women in North Texas. Instead of organizing a counter-protest or even disseminating educational information to contradict ALL’s claims about the dangers of contraception, Planned Parenthood of North Texas simply asked supporters to pledge donations for every protester rustled up by the anti-choice group. Thanks to ALL, more than 600 women will get free pills so that they can continue to make reproductive choices for themselves.

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Representatives for Planned Parenthood told Rewire that ALL’s claims were so preposterous, they largely found them unworthy of any concentrated effort at refuting. Of the risks and benefits of contraception, Planned Parenthood community advocate Denise Rodriguez told Rewire Saturday morning, “We already go over all of that with every woman who comes into the clinic.”

ALL claims that the pill “kills” marriage by stripping it of “its meaning and purpose,” which is exclusively procreation, that it “kills” babies by preventing ovulation and implantation, and that it “kills” women via blood clots, a documented side-effect, particularly when women take hormonal contraception and use tobacco. Side-effect claims are supported by well-publicized pharmaceutical fact sheets–which detail the information Planned Parenthood already disseminates to women seeking contraception–but ALL inflates the dangers of contraception, making rare conditions like heart disease and stroke seem like inevitable guarantees.

Nearly 100 anti-choice protesters gathered in front of a Dallas Planned Parenthood clinic on Saturday.

Nearly 100 anti-choice protesters gathered in front of a Dallas Planned Parenthood clinic on Saturday.

Quite simply, “It’s a campaign to frighten men and women into giving up their reproductive choice,” said Holly Morgan, Director of Media Relations for Planned Parenthood of North Texas. Rather than “killing” marriage, she says, the pill “revolutionized society by giving women safe, affordable reproductive choice and saved marriages by allowing people to have only the children they could care for.”

No qualified medical professional would claim that the pill–or any medication, for that matter–has zero side-effects. ALL uses a mix of established scientific fact and unprovable, strictly religious dogma (for example, tracts courtesy of the QuiverFull movement, of which the Duggars are the poster family) to paint a picture of a world falling apart thanks to reckless women and their desire for no-consequences sex.

Interestingly, ALL claims that the insatiable need for sex which devalues femininity is just one among many side effects of the pill, including a loss of libido. So which is it? Holly Morgan told Rewire that “The combination of side-effects they claim are not only contradictory (hair loss and hyper-hirsutism, promiscuity and loss of libido), they’re comical.”

Like most anti-choice groups, ALL’s apparent concern for women’s health and safety is a smokescreen for their real goal: social control of sexuality, specifically of female sexuality. (For example, one can read the entirety of the “Pill Kills” propaganda and never find out that pregnancy has serious, sometimes deadly, effects on women–one wonders if this fact is even a concern to ALL, which seems to see forced childbirth as a kind of punishment for immoral behavior.)

A very white, very male YouTube channel features a comprehensive array of anti-choice propaganda videos, while Oklahoma City’s white, male Father Daniel McCaffrey gave the keynote address at last Saturday’s “Pill Kills” Dallas symposium. Currently, ALL’s main political focus appears to be on the passage of “personhood” legislation, aimed at making contraception illegal in the United States, based on the repeal of constitutional right-to-privacy rulings, specifically Griswold v. Connecticut. In Griswold, the Supreme Court ruled that married couples had the right to be counseled on the use of contraception.

A few volunteers did gather on Saturday to let the anti-choice protesters know they were doing little besides helping more North Texas women get access contraception, including a mother and daughter pair who discussed their happily-planned, three-kid family. But these kinds of families don’t gibe with what ALL wants for America, which is for childbirth to be the result of all sex, and for the use of contraception to be tantamount to murder.

In fact, the “Pill Kills” movement openly finds the right to the use of birth control established in Griswold to be patently ridiculous. It’s one of their many talking points, which also includes discussion of how premarital sex is “seriously wrong” and how contraceptive use is no different than abortion–despite the fact that contraceptives prevent pregnancy from happening initially, rather than terminating a pregnancy already in progress, the facts of which are even described quite clearly on the homepage of the “Pill Kills” website. Instead of a “lush” womb, women on contraceptives instead walk around carrying “barren wastelands” that reject the many children–and by “children,” the ALL appears to mean any egg at all–they could and should be producing.

Indeed, women can and should have as many children as possible, but “if you are married and for some serious reason you need to hold off on having a child, there are safe, natural ways to doing this,” advises the ALL on their “Pill Kills” website. By “ways,” ALL means “way,” and that “way” is to measure fertility via cervical mucus using the Pope-approved Creighton Model. Of course, only “serious” reasons should be considered–who knows what they are?–and everyone else should get to the marital baby-making ASAP. Anything else is patently unacceptable to the ALL–including thoughtful planning of pregnancy by women who desire stable, safe pregnancies on their own time and terms.

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