George Lakoff writes about the actual Republican war on women and the supposed “war on religion”
A recent Gallup Poll has shown that, in the US, 82 per cent of Catholics think that birth control is “morally acceptable.” 90 per cent of non-Catholics believe the same. Overall, 89 per cent of Americans agree on this. In the May 2012 poll, Gallup tested beliefs about the moral acceptability of 18 issues total, including divorce, gambling, stem cell research, the death penalty, gay relationships, and so on. Contraception had by far the greatest approval rating. Divorce, the next on the list, had only 67 per cent approval compared to 89 per cent for contraception.
Mitt Romney and Fox News, on the other hand, are proposing a huge backward step on freedom of religion. Romney has said he would support a bill that would allow employers and insurers to deny their female employees insurance coverage for birth control and other health services, based on the religious beliefs of the employers and insurers.
I just don’t get the Republican position at all. Shouldn’t we make sure that the only children who are conceived are wanted by loving parents? I understand the dispute on abortion, but not on birth control pills and devices, which is (or should be) a
fundamentally different dispute. It would seem that many of those who generally oppose abortion would favor birth control pills and devices, but there seems to be a striking overlap. In my experience, most of these people think that women should simply “behave better.” They think that women (and men) should not have sex unless they are trying to have babies. That is a fantasy that is contradicted by thousands of years of human history. Sorry, but it’s not going to happen. And I write this sincerely believing that abstinence should be a substantial part (along with many other topics, including use of birth control) of sex education for teenagers.
So what are we going to do with regard to all of those unwanted pregnancies? We could promulgate information about birth control and the pills and devices themselves. That would minimize the numbers of unwanted pregnancies. That would minimize the number of abortions, which is something that everyone wants (contrary to the claims of many conservatives). But no, that is not good enough, because we need to keep women (and men) from having pleasure without the threat of serious consequences. Why? This is a key point for me. It’s because that is what God wants. Sometimes conservatives frame it as “it’s not in the natural order.” Same thing. It is a religious belief that dovetails with that craving to control those misbehaving women. It is a craving that has ancient roots and it ignores a modern reality that the elevation of women to comparable status to men in modern times critically depends on their ability to control when they do (and don’t) have babies.
Another twist to this long sad struggle in America is the link between unwanted children and spikes in crime. (and see here). It’s not surprising that children who are raised by parents filled with resentment (which is more likely regarding unplanned children) will be more likely to turn to crime. Common sense would indicate that unwanted children would suffer from attachment issues more than wanted children, and that leads to well-documented problems:
Disrupted and anxious attachment not only leads to emotional and social problems, but also results in biochemical consequences in the developing brain. Infants raised without loving touch and security have abnormally high levels of stress hormones, which can impair the growth and development of their brains and bodies. The neurobiological consequences of emotional neglect can leave children behaviorally disordered, depressed, apathetic, slow to learn, and prone to chronic illness. Compared to securely attached children, attachment disordered children are significantly more likely to be aggressive, disruptive and antisocial. Teenage boys, for example, who have experienced attachment difficulties early in life, are three times more likely to commit violent crimes. Disruption of attachment during the crucial first three years can lead to what has been called “affectionless psychopathy”, the inability to form meaningful emotional relationships, coupled with chronic anger, poor impulse control, and a lack of remorse.
You would think that their focus on law and order would mean that conservatives would work hard to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Further, conservatives had welfare, yet many of the children on welfare exists because their parents did not have easy access to birth control. Again, you would think that easy and free access to birth control would be a major conservative cause, but it’s the opposite. As H.L. Menchen’s quote goes:
Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.