An Op Ed in the NY Times (May 9) quoted and then attempted to refute my post of 4/25/17: “Abortion rights are a key pillar of income equality,” writes Ellen Shaffer at the Center for Policy Analysis. “Opposition to abortion rights is a key factor keeping women and kids in poverty.” The Op Ed attempted to defend the unpopular minority view that abortion is murder, by suggesting that anti-abortion laws actually support low-income women’s desires to have children. The Times has not so far printed my letter in response. Let’s be clear:
First: Low-income women and families deserve the human right to decide whether, when, and how many children to have, and to have the information and means to do so, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence. Laws limiting access to abortions inflict the greatest harm on low-income women and women of color, contributing directly to income inequality. Women’s and children’s well-being is worse in states with more abortion restrictions. Criminalizing access to affordable reproductive health care is punitive. Period. Politicians who fail to recognize and confront this reality perpetuate it. They need to do better.
Second: Are public officials who object on moral and emotional grounds to our private rights to regulate reproduction through birth control and abortion consistent in their own private behavior? I re-print here notes from a blog first posted in Feb., 2012:
Do Republicans Have Sex?
(N)ow that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled the California ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, it seems appropriate to out the opponents of birth control. For being straight.
Most heterosexually active Americans, including most Catholics, use birth control. This is clearly reflected in the average birth rate per woman in the U.S. as of 2012, which is 1.9 . However, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposes birth control. Congressional Republicans echoed distress at the Affordable Care Act's incursion on the church's right to impose its religious views on its employees and students.
So, do the critics walk the walk? We'll take the Bishops at their word that they don't have kids. But members of Congress love to talk about their families on their websites. So we should be able to tell whether or not members who say they don't believe that contraception is an essential aspect of health care, especially for women, are likely users of contraception.
For the 16 Republican members of the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, their family size (average: 2.1 children) suggests that these ardent and vocal right wing opponents of medical contraception are, in fact, ardent practitioners of what they want to deny to the rest of us. There are other possible (though unlikely) explanations: despite being married, among them for collectively more than a century, perhaps they rarely consummate their relationships. This may explain their often public irritability. Alternatively, these uncommonly blessed couples might have beaten the statistical odds for success with the rhythm method of birth control.
Next time they spout off about it in public, maybe we should ask them.
All but 2 of the 16 Republican members of the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee report having children. The breakdown:
One child: 2 members: Leonard Lance, Tim Murphy (Rep. Murphy, from a hearing on this subject: "It is not our job as Catholics to tell God what he should do. It is our job to learn and follow his teachings.")
Two children: 5 members: Mike Rogers, Marsha Blackburn, Bob Latta, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Fred Upton
Three children: 5 members: Joe Pitts, Michael Burgess, John Shimkus, Bill Cassidy, Brett Guthrie
Four children: 2 members: Phil Gingrey, Joe Barton