Tag Archive: Contraception

Nov 09 2014

Ripping the Pages Out of Text Books

In October, just before the election, the Gilbert Arizona school board voted to remove pages on contraception from the honors biology test book used used in its high school.

Gilbert Public Schools will “edit” a high-school honors biology textbook after school-board members agreed that it does not align with state regulations on how abortion is to be presented to public-school students.

Board members, backed by a conservative religious group, voted 3-2 to make the change, arguing that they are complying with a 2-year-old state law that requires public schools to “present childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion.”

Board President Staci Burk said she believes the district is likely the first in Arizona with plans to edit a book under the law.Gilbert Public Schools will “edit” a high-school honors biology textbook after school-board members agreed that it does not align with state regulations on how abortion is to be presented to public-school students.

Board members, backed by a conservative religious group, voted 3-2 to make the change, arguing that they are complying with a 2-year-old state law that requires public schools to “present childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion.”

Board President Staci Burk said she believes the district is likely the first in Arizona with plans to edit a book under the law.

That plan was aborted on election day when the people of this conservative Phoenix suburb decided to ax the page ripping majority.

So here’s one more bit of Election Nice Time: turns out that even in hyper-conservative Gilbert, Arizona, a bedroom community to the Phoenix metro horrorplex, it is in fact possible for a conservative school board to go to far. And it looks like the Gilbert School Board’s decision last week to razor out a page from an Honors Biology textbook in the high school – because it mentions the abortion pill – is what counts as too far: the good people of Gilbert elected two new members and reelected an anti-censorship member, replacing the Tea Party-leaning majority on the board with a new majority that is firmly against slicing out a page from a biology textbook out of fear that high schoolers will learn that abortion exists. There were other tensions between the board and the community, too, but the textbook censorship seems to have been the last straw.

Textbook tearing crosses line for even reddest voters

Rachel Maddow reports that the school board that voted to tear out pages from the honors biology textbook to remove mentions of abortion has lost its tea party majority, leaving the censorship plan in question. ArizonaHonorsBiology.com remains, just in case.

Mar 03 2012

Popular Culture 20120302: Your Contraception

I must first offer my apologies to Peter Townshend.  Pete, sorry, but I think that you would probably approve of this.  Please know that I mean no disrespect to the original song.  This is just political satire using one of your standards.

Normally I do not write highly political pieces, that function being done far better by others here, but tonight is an exception.  I hope that this gets my feelings about how the Republicans have taken what should be a foregone conclusion and twisted it to try to make their point, whatever that point is.  I have tried to be witty and not mean with it, but when talking ’bout Republicans sometimes it is difficult to keep from getting mean.

Feb 16 2012

Just How Crass Can Right Wing Get

Pretty damned crass. GOP candidate Sen. Rick Santorum’s supporter Foster Friess appearing with on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell made the incredible statement that women should use an aspirin held between their knees as birth control. Ms. Mitchell was left virtually speechless.

Too bad his mother didn’t follow those directions

Feb 16 2012

Only Men Allowed to Speak on Birth Control Access

House of Representative Democratic women walked out of House oversight hearing on access to birth control when the Republican majority’s refused to allow minority female witnesses at a hearing on the Administration’s birth control access rules. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) left accusing Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) of manipulating committee rules to block female witnesses from testifying.

In a letter yesterday, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent a letter (pdf) to Issa yesterday objecting to the lack of minority witnesses and those who supported President Obama’s compromise:

   When my staff inquired about requesting minority witnesses for this hearing, we were informed that you would allow only one. Based on your decision, we requested as our minority witness a third-year Georgetown University Law Center student named Sandra Fluke. I believed it was critical to have at least one woman at the witness table who could discuss the repercussions that denying coverage for contraceptives has on women across this country.

   In response, your staff relayed that you had decided as follows:

   “As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness.”

   It is inconceivable to me that you believe tomorrow’s hearing has no bearing on the reproductive rights of women. This Committee commits a massive injustice by trying to pretend that the views of millions of women across this country are meaningless, worthless, or irrelevant to this debate.

Only one witness who supported the compromise, Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State was invited to testify. The other eleven witnesses over the two days of testimony would be all male religious leaders or professors, including a Catholic bishop. Issa argued that “the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience.”

I agree this is about the 1st Amendment but it has nothing to do with religious freedom, it has to do with establishing religious doctrine as government policy.

Feb 10 2012

An Acceptable Compromise? Let Us Hope

President Barack Obama presented a compromise addressing the objections of the religious right, so-called pro-lifers and extremest conservatives to the provision in Affordable Care Act requiring religiously affiliated employers to provide contraceptive coverage to women. Women will still be guaranteed coverage for contraceptive services without any out-of-pocket cost, but will have to seek the coverage directly from their insurance companies if their employers object to birth control on religious grounds. Insurers will absorb the cost insuring that access to birth control as well as cancer screening, mammograms and check ups would remain free to all women.

Planned Parenthood and the Catholic Health Association both expressed pleasure about the new plan, however, there were still objections from the Catholic Bishops and right wing politicians who vowed to continue the war on women.

Many of those voicing objections to this provision have cited the 1st Amendment stating that forcing churches to provide something that is opposed by their tenets violates their 1st Amendment right to freely practice their religion. But does it? The First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Contraception is not about freedom of religion, as Scarecrow at FDL so eloquently explains:

What’s happening here is that the government has chosen to adopt a rule relating to health care.  Proponents often say this, and some media may dismiss this as ducking the religious issue, but it’s not.  It’s consistent with what we’ve done for decades.  Contraception is about health care, mostly women’s health care, and sometimes life-saving health care; but it’s clearly health care.  When government addresses contraception, it does so for health reasons, not religious reasons.  Government can adopt rules to protect women’s health and safety without violating the First Amendment.

What about the “establishment clause”?  This is how the bait and switch happens.  The Catholic Bishops do not believe contraception should be used; it shouldn’t be available at all.  They don’t mean just unavailable to Catholics; they mean not available to anyone. They want the legal rule to be: no contraceptives for anyone, so no insurance coverage for contraception services for anyone.

Religious freedom says they are free to believe contraception is wrong, that it violates their religion.  Government can’t force them to believe otherwise; it can’t force them to exercise a religion they don’t believe, except that government can, for health and safety reasons, require everyone to obey reasonable rules to protect peoples’ health and safety, even if some believe such regulations are inconsistent with their religious beliefs.

Religious freedom doesn’t mean the Catholic Bishops, or any other religious leaders, have the right to impose what they believe on everyone else.  When we cross over to the realm of what the rules should be for everyone, and the pushing is coming from a religious purpose, it’s more likely we’re talking about that other clause, the establishment clause.  And that’s exactly where the Bishops are.

Those who oppose any contraception insurance coverage want to prevent the government from having a rule that requires contraception, or have it adopt a rule prohibiting the coverage of contraception.  And they want this not for health/safety reasons, but for declared religious ones.  In other words, they want a government rule that imposes their religious beliefs on everyone else.  That’s not about the “free exercise” clause; that’s “establishment of religion.”

Constitutional lawyer David Boies, who represented VP Gore and successfully opposed California’s Prop 8. appeared with Lawrence O’Donnell on The Last Word, explaining the constitutionality of the birth control mandate.