Updated May 1, 2012.
It has been over 50 years since American women have had birth control pills to help manage fertility and family planning, yet it seems that the battle for women’s body autonomy is still not over. Just when we think that the future looks bright, that there are medical advances and widespread educational programs for consciousness-raising, some movement from the ultra-conservative Right emerges and reminds us that when it comes to women’s bodies, pockets of American society remain in the Dark Ages.
The latest trend is to make not only abortion illegal but even preventive measures of contraception.
There are people out there who would like to equate the use of contraception with abortion, and of course equate both of these with murder. This is not just the Catholic Church talking, either, but also various Christian denominations leading the call. The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod, was quoted in the New York Times last week, telling a House committee on the subject: “We object to the use of drugs and procedures used to take the lives of unborn children,” referring not to abortion but to contraception. The idea that a bunch of Christian preachers are testifying in Congress about the future of women’s ability to use contraception is no less than frightening.
I may have inadvertently stepped into this with the article that my colleague, L Ariella Zeller, and I wrote about abortion in Israel in Lilith’s winter issue. We mistakenly conflated RU 486 and the abortion pill. Monica Whitcher, President of CHOICE: Campus Health Organization for Information, Contraception, and Education at Vassar College, corrected us in an email to Lilith’s editors, “RU486 is an abortion pill and terminates an established pregnancy. The morning after pill, by contrast, PREVENTS pregnancy, by either preventing the sperm from entering the egg, or by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting into the uterus.” I do apologize for the mistake and for unintentionally adding fuel to this fire.