Accuracy in Media

Amanda Marcotte of Salon says conservatives are “modern puritans” who, as “H.L. Mencken famously said,” are “driven by the ‘haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.’”

Her piece suggests that conservatives are being mean-spirited when they suggest adults who take part in sex should pay for their own birth control.

“The reason Republicans keep trying to take birth control away from women is simple: They think birth control is bad and you shouldn’t be able to get it,” she wrote in “Why are Republicans taking away birth control? Because they don’t want women to have it” – subhead: “Forget the excuses for ending Planned Parenthood grants – the goal has always been to take away birth control.”

Birth control had nothing to do with why Planned Parenthood ended its own participation in Title X, the provision of federal law under which birth control is provided at taxpayer expense to low-income women who don’t qualify for Medicaid. That dispute is over whether Planned Parenthood can encourage women who come to it for other health services to have abortions.

Not since Griswold v. Connecticut has any Republican – or any other politician – seriously worked to hinder access to birth control. What politicians have tried to hinder is spending taxpayer dollars to pay for the drug for people they don’t even know. Marcotte did not address this distinction.

“This should seem obvious, but apparently it is not,” she wrote. “Every time Republicans find some new avenue to take away birth control, there is always some elaborate excuse – dutifully repeated by the mainstream media as fact – for why they don’t want to take away your birth control, but simply have to for some other reason that is always, they claim, not about birth control. Birth control is never the target, they swear. It’s always just the unfortunate collateral damage of some fight over, they swear, something else.

“Don’t buy it. The reason Republicans keep taking away birth control is because Republicans want to take away your birth control. They hate the power it gives women, especially young women and low-income women.”

But what does a decision over counseling people to have abortions have to do with “taking birth control away from women?” Marcotte explains that the “anti-choice activists who control the Republican Party don’t like that this program provides birth control to women who need it. So they are finding ways to slash away at the program until it can no longer accomplish the goal it was set up to accomplish.”

She again fails to explain how the Title X decision by Planned Parenthood – it was free to continue to participate in the program if it agreed to abide by the rules set up by the duly elected Trump administration – related to birth control or how it was that removing government funding for birth control equated to denying women “access” to it.

In fact, she instead presses the argument that taxpayer-provided contraception will lead to fewer abortions. “Contraception is the only effective way to prevent abortion,” Marcotte says, obviously falsely. “Cutting contraception funding to clinics that acknowledge the existence of abortion raises the abortion rate.” Preaching abstinence instead of providing contraception doesn’t work. As has been true since the beginning of time, people keep having sex.”

“The excuses may change, but the goal remains constant: Chip away at contraception access slowly, so more women lose access and unwanted pregnancy rates trend upward, but so gradually that the public doesn’t notice until it’s too late. That’s exactly how conservatives stripped away abortion access. Now they’re coming for your birth control.”

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