Sunday, March 18, 2012

A return to Comstock

There was a time when neither birth control nor the use of abortifacents in the first trimester (until you felt the baby move) were considered a big deal.  Granted, medical technology was not that advanced, so they either didn't work too well, or killed the mother.  However, all were perfectly legal, and available over the counter.
Then came the Comstock Laws.  Suddenly, it was a felony to distribute information about contraceptives through the mails.  In other words, while wealthy women could still get birth control (and abortifacents) through their doctors, poor women who had relied on mail-order birth control were seven different types of screwed. 
Then along came Margaret Sanger.  Yes, she was a bigot and an advocate for eugenics.  However, when she opened the first birth-control clinic in 1914, her clients didn't care.  There was a line around the block.  Of course, her Planned Parenthood clinic was shut down, thanks again to Mr. Comstock.  The sections of the Comstock Laws dealing with contraceptives were repealed in 1936.
Of course, between the Pill, Planned Parenthood and the Internet, most of these laws are now irrelevant.  Or are they?
Recently, several states, including Mississippi and Colorado, passed or attempted to pass laws declaring that life begins at conception, and that a fetus is a person.  Note the term "conception," not "implantation."  If a zygote does not implant, for natural reasons or due to artificial means, you ain't gettin' pregnant, lady.  Unfortunately, this would have two unintended consequences.  One: it would make certain types of birth control (such as the IUD) illegal.  Two, what about all the conceived embryos taking up space in fertility clinics that were never implanted?  Are they meant to sit in cold storage forever?  Does this mean that if a doctor chooses to destroy them after a certain number of years, that he could be convicted for mass murder?
Other states, such as Arizona, have made it legal for an employer to fire anyone who uses their company health insurance to pay for contraceptives.  That's a great idea!  After all, it's not like married people use birth control!  I mean, it's not like the lawmakers who came up with this idea want to cut back on maternity leave, healthcare, or assistance to families with small children.  What?  They think those should be cut?  So, in other words, women should just play Russian roulette with their bodies and finances for the rest of their fertile years.  Good idea!


  1. This is tricky. Chemical birth control is not a right. A health plan that covers essential medications is under no obligation to cover the Pill for contraception (as opposed to medically necessary reasons). So while it might be mighty inconvenient for said married couple it isn't exactly necessary like food, antibiotics and toilet paper.

  2. Again, who, pray tell, is going to pay for all those extra babies? Those who are pro-life might view the use of non-barrier contraceptives (which are more effective than barrier methods--they break) as a responsible move for couples who cannot afford another child. (And in this economy, that's a lot of people).
    Also, a child is not just an inconvenience. For some families, another child means expenses such as daycare (or the lost income of a mother who stays home until her child enters free public school--which is about five years), health insurance (and babies are the most expensive to insure on private policies), diapers, food, space, etc. For families barely making ends meet on two incomes, a child can mean the difference between accepting welfare (which I assume you also oppose) and not.

  3. So first the stats: condoms used with spermicidal lubricants have the same effectiveness rate as the Pill. Yes condoms can break but I have yet to meet the woman who can honestly tell me she's never missed a pill. The perceived advantage of chemical over barrier contraception is actually limited only to convenience.
    I also don't oppose welfare in the right cases, please don't assume anything about me. I oppose its function as a career choice, not as a safeguard to help people between jobs or to support the disabled.
    And finally, here's the bottom line: sex is a want. Food, that's a need. Medicine is a need. Clear air is a need. Sex is not a need. As a result, any form of contraception is an optional choice.

  4. Sex may not be a biological need, but can you honestly tell me that you will give it up for the rest of your life?
    And we haven't even discussed the IUD. Most effective, hardest to misuse, but VERY pricey and can have dangerous side effects.


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