Make every member of Congress speak frankly about birth control

| August 2, 2011 | 62 Replies

When I see articles like this one at Huffpo, I am reminded that there are members of Congress who would like to keep women and men from deciding whether and when they will have babies.   This impulse is often the result of  a religious belief that it is their duty to discourage people from having sex unless they are trying to have babies.   And sometimes, as indicated in the Huffpo article, it’s motivated by a belief that other people should be compelled to have babies they would rather not have.  Maybe my memory is foggy, but I don’t remember this power of Congress being spelled out in the Commerce Clause or in any of the enumerated powers.

I realize that the Huffpo article concerns health insurance coverage, but reading it reminded me of my recurring suspicion that many members of Congress are incurably meddlesome when it comes to other people’s sexuality.

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It is my belief that people who feel these compulsions are engaging in warped sexual fantasies of their own.  They are getting off on keeping others from getting off.  I suspect that there are many of these pleasure police and it’s time to OUT them.  Let’s force them to make their repressive sexual agendas explicit.  Here’s how I would do it, if I had my way: Make every member of Congress stand up at a podium, one by one, and answer a single simple question, but first they would be read the following explanatory prelude:

“The following question concerns only those pills and devices that are used prior to or during sex to prevent pregnancy.  This question does not concern abortion.”

Now, here’s the question:

Every American adult should be entirely free to purchase any

currently available pill or product  to prevent pregnancy.

Yes or No?

This imaginary spectacle would allow Americans see who is for personal  liberty and who is for meddling.    Let’s make it all public. Let’s allow The People to see who “represents” them:

An estimated 98 percent of sexually active women in America have used some form of birth control at some point in their lives. According to a recent Thomson Reuters/NPR poll, 77 percent of American voters believe that insurers should cover the cost of birth control with no co-pays.

Alas, my proposed thought experiment will never occur.   For the foreseeable future, the meddlesome members of Congress will continue to express their aversions to other people’s sexual  pleasure only indirectly, for instance, by voting in wacky ways on insurance issues.

I wonder whether Rep Steve King is against requiring people who have health insurance pay medical premiums that cover appendectomies because there are many people who won’t need to have appendectomies. He’s a real piece of work.    At least he’s already stepped up and declared his position:  I like to meddle with other people’s lives.

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Category: Reproductive Rights, Sex

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (62)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Thank goodness we will ultimately be saved by the Thirty-Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For more, see Daylight Atheism. http://www.daylightatheism.org/2011/08/dispatches-from-future-america-iv.html

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Here’s some information on the positions Republican presidential candidates have taken regarding birth control: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/02/republican-candidates-abortion-womens-health_n_946935.html#s348933&title=Rep_Michele_Bachmann

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    “Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum recently pledged to “die on that hill” fighting against same-sex marriage, and made a similar vow to repeal all federal funding for contraception because it is “a license to do things in a sexual realm.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/19/rick-santorum-contraception-gay-marriage_n_1020679.html

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Apparently, Rick Santorum thinks we need more unwanted children.

    “Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, whose strong base of evangelical Christian supporters has thrust him into contention in Iowa, said on Monday that he believes states should have the right to outlaw birth control and sodomy without the interference of the Supreme Court.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/03/rick-santorum-birth-control-sodomy_n_1181291.html

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    I am glad to see this issue erupt in the media. It’s been festering out of sight for too long, affecting policy adversely. Why NOT encourage contraception? What better way to reduce the numbers of abortions?

    We pointed out that the United States has the highest rates of unplanned pregnancy in the industrialized world in large part because conservatives have blocked access to comprehensive sex education and birth control, particularly for poor women. We also predicted that if we did focus on birth control, conservatives would in fact oppose measures to expand contraceptive access and their opposition would serve as a wedge issue dividing the right and finally making visible their long-standing efforts to undermine women’s reproductive autonomy. Now that contraception has erupted as an issue that dominates the airwaves we cannot resist the temptation to say we were right – and to explain why the furor is all too predictable.

    http://www.alternet.org/story/154407/why_extreme_right-wing_views_on_contraception_will_backfire_if_progressives_fight_?page=entire

  6. I’m repeating myself, but I don’t care. It needs to be made crystal clear.

    Rightwing opposition to contraception, gay rights, abortion, and their longstanding resistance to most anti-rape legislation is entirely about male privilege and sex. Rick Santorum has made it blatant. He doesn’t care what percentage of Planned Parenthood’s budget is spent on abortion (3%), nor does he care that sex education and contraception availability reduces unplanned pregnancy.

    He wants people to stop having sex outside of wedlock.

    But further, he wants married couples to stop having sex for pleasure.

    This is not a war on abortion in the name of the unborn, it is a war on sex. It only makes sense when you look at it that way, since a rational approach to this, based on the idea that people have a right to have sex, would reduce all manner of public expenses not to mention human misery. It makes no sense to continually block all this from a fiscal point of view, a civil liberties point of view, or even a political point of view. It only makes sense if what you aim to do is try to keep people from fucking.

    These people are neurotic. They declare that the country is sex-obsessed, but they’re the ones who keep forcing it into the public arena.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Mark: I think you’re right, that it bothers the hell out of many people (especially conservatives) that other people are having sex purely for pleasure. Denying the right to use birth control is one way to slow down that decadent train, in their view. But I do think (to mix metaphors) that it’s special icing on the cake to keep women from having sex for pleasure. “It’s just not right,” they are thinking.

      BTW, I would love to have each of the Republican candidates declare whether it’s OK to masturbate, another version of sex for pleasure. If they were forced to make that declaration, you’ll never see a bigger parade of hypocrites.

    • Xtech says:

      The mind-body schism maintains we are a mind, or perhaps a soul, temporarily inhabiting a body. And the body can be a little too animal-like, with its involuntary actions such as digestion, breeding, menstruating, etc. But to make things worse, some of these ‘lower’ bodily animal-like things humans do, are actually pleasurable. Which introduces a great dilemma, and an opportunity for virtue, by denying the pleasure. There are many ways of mortification of the flesh, and denying our bodies (religious fasting, for ex) benefits our ‘higher’ self.

      Perhaps this is the root of the disgust and denial of the pleasure of sex.

    • More likely, if you want to stick to the purely theological side, it’s that certain folks don’t like competition for nirvana. Sex has been shown to cause very high brain responses, activating, especially in women, the parts of the brain usually associated with extreme intellectual stimulation and the kinds of ecstasy claimed for religious epiphany. Nothing “lower order” about it when practiced as an art, i.e. lovemaking. Orgasm has also been shown to be highly beneficial to the entire mind-body complex in many ways and denial to be stultifying and in some instances a very dam to the ability to experience anything worthwhile.

      Fasting and mortification of the flesh, however, was paradoxically a gateway to transcendent experience, since in the process the chemical changes one undergoes prompt the kind of brain responses associated with enlightenment, epiphany, transcendence, “seeing god.” They might have been forgiven under the circumstances for believing the body, the flesh, was holding them back from such experiences, but the irony is that they couldn’t have had such experiences without the flesh and the nervous system that comes with it.

      But I agree with you that some people never quite accommodate themselves to the fact that we are physical beings as well as intellectual beings and resent what they call the animal aspect of human existence. But that’s their problem and I wish they would stop trying to inflict it on the rest of us.

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