The War for Women's Autonomy

Next front: birth control.

Salon's Priya Jain weighs in on the new front with a significant article on The Battle to Ban Birth Control, which is the next front in the war for women's autonomy, as those who would seek to eradicate reproductive rights look toward increasingly conservative courts to extend their battlefield beyond abortion. Jain notes that the anti-contraception movement is already making inroads, by exerting pressure on insurance companies to refuse coverage of contraception, lobbying for "conscious clause" laws to give pharmacists the legal right to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions, and attempting to redefine pregnancy itself to broaden the scope of abortion and reclassify some contraceptive methods under its umbrella.

As ever, the usual caveats apply. If you don't want to get pregnant, don't have sex. Aside from the fundamental flaw best filed under "Human Nature," with this argument (in evidence with the failure rate of abstinence-only sex education, for a start), the argument conveniently ignores both the worst and most ordinary case scenarios—rape and marital sex, the former of which victims can't avoid, and the latter of which (which is the only acceptable frame for the anti-sex lot) one shouldn't have to avoid simply to prevent pregnancy.

In one sense, the movement is so ludicrous that it seems almost laughable; in another, it chills me to my very bones, because it's all too real. And it's hardly just about birth control—because, of course, a women's capacity for controlling her own reproduction effects every other aspect of her life as well. Amanda Marcotte:

That’s why our side is accurately described as pro- and theirs as anti-choice. As I highlighted below, the anti-choice movement has a pretty thorough conformist goal in mind, a plan for all women to follow that involves marrying the first guy you fuck out of necessity because you couldn’t prevent pregnancy and being dependent on him because you can’t get childcare and your own job and financial independence. It’s about not just being unable, therefore, to choose how many children you have, but also really about restricting your choice of a mate and whether to have one at all.
That doesn't sound especially great for the guys, either. Ahem.

One of the most curious aspects of this fondness for the golden days of yore, back when women had no control over their bodies and pumped out babies with regularity, is that it ignores the quantitative societal differences between then and now which makes supporting a huge family on one income a virtual impossibility. The economy is not the same. The workforce is not the same. My oldest girlfriend is a high school teacher at the same school in the same town at which my father spent the vast majority of his career as a teacher. He supported a family of four on his salary alone; my girlfriend, on the other hand, who has a comparable house and now two daughters of her own, couldn't possibly support her whole family on just her salary. It's a different world, one in which a single income simply doesn't go as far as it used to. I struggle to comprehend how the anti-choicers expect families to function were their every wet dream to be come true. Short of our entire society snapping into a completely different shape in the blink of an eye, the realization of their movement would be absolutely disastrous.

But hey—who has time for details when there's a war on?

(Crossposted at AlterNet PEEK.)

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