Birth Control Debate Surfaces Awful Arguments

Emergency contraception should be made available to teenage girls over the counter, a major pediatric group recommended Monday, just a week after the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said it's safe to sell birth control pills without a prescription or doctor's visit.

With these bold guidelines out and the Obama Administration's birth control mandate in effect, momentum is building to make contraception available and affordable for all American women. Some lawmakers, activists and religious figures are unhappy about this, and they have offered a variety of reasons for limiting access to birth control. Here are some of the worst from the past year:

1. It causes older men to take advantage of young girls.

Over-the-counter birth control pills could encourage men to prey upon younger girls and dictate their contraceptive choices, according to Janice Shaw Crouse of the Christian activist group Concerned Women for America.

"Any guy who is older and taking advantage of a younger girl could put her on a pill," Crouse said last week, according to The Washington Times. She called the ACOG recommendation "reckless" although that report did not discuss teen use of birth control.

2. It allows people to have sex for fun.

Birth control encourages sex for reasons other than procreation, which is "not okay" with Rick Santorum. While campaigning for president last year, Santorum told the Evangelical blog Caffeinated Thoughts about his concerns.

"It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be," he said. "They’re supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also [inaudible], but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act."

3. It causes abortions.

Some lawmakers have raised the claim that Plan B is an abortifacient, even though the drug prevents pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation. While campaigning earlier this year, Mitt Romney called morning-after pills "abortive pills" — a false notion that John Boehner, Newt Gingrich and Michelle Bachmann have also promoted.

Plan B prevents unwanted pregnancies — some of which may have otherwise ended in abortion — and does nothing to stop the development of a fetus once implantation has begun. RU-486 is the abortion pill, which works by blocking the progesterone needed to sustain a pregnancy and requires a prescription and doctor's care.

4. It's basically free already.

Women who can't afford birth control should just google it, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said in March, arguing against the Affordable Care Act's requirement that insurance companies cover the cost of contraception without a co-payment.

"My wife actually went online here in Wisconsin and typed in, 'what if I can’t afford birth control,'" he told ThinkProgress. "Came up, bam. If you can’t afford it, you can get birth control in this country.”

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) went so far as to claim that "not one" woman is priced out of birth control. The average American woman spends 30 years of her life trying to avoid getting pregnant, so even using generic pills that cost around $9 per month adds up to thousands of dollars.

Foster Friess, a billionaire investor who funded a Santorum super PAC, suggested one bargain-basement method of contraception earlier this year: Bayer aspirin between the knees.

5. It's like Pearl Harbor.

According to one Republican congressman, the birth control mandate holds its own with two of the darkest occasions in American history. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) leveled this claim during a press conference on Capitol Hill on August 1, the day the requirement went into effect.

"I know in your mind, you can think of the times America was attacked," he said. "One is Dec. 7, that's Pearl Harbor Day. The other is Sept. 11, and that's the day the terrorists attacked. I want you to remember Aug. 1, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates."



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