How Did We Get to Where We Are in the Political Birth Control Debate? A Short History

Lauren Hale gives a historical look at the political debate on birth control, and offers her opinion on the issue based on what she sees.

Sandra Fluke sat behind a table to share stories of college women denied access by their student health care policy to contraceptives they desperately needed for obstetrical reasons. She did so at a press conference called by Nancy Pelosi after Representative Issa did not allow her to testify at hearings earlier this week regarding Obama’s proposed contraceptive rule. There are two videos available on the web, one pushed by Oversight Dems and the C-SPAN video of the Fluke/Pelosi press conference.

A fellow Georgetown student, Angela Morabito, publishes in The College Conservative, an opinion piece claiming “Sandra Fluke Does Not Speak for Me,” which portrays Fluke as a loose woman desiring “her sex life to be subsidized by other students at a Jesuit school.” Rush Limbaugh reads Angela’s blog post and makes some lascivious comments of his own based on Angela’s blog post. The word heard round the Social Media world: “Slut.” Not Rush’s word originally, but Angela’s. Rush runs with it though, saying he wants something for his money, a video, perhaps.

Apalled Democrats call for Rush to be “repudiated as a person.” Santorum speaks out against Rush’s actions while Romney merely offers “not language I would use.” Awash in disgust at the words sent to an apparently innocent Georgetown Law student from a harsh and outspoken Conservative, the world at large declares we must #BoycottRush.

To understand how we arrived here, we must look back nearly 140 years.


July 2, 1872 –  Victoria Woodhull, via her publication, Woodhull and Clafin’s Weekly, publishes a scandalous account of an affair Mr. Henry Ward Beecher (minister at Plymouth Church) held with Mrs. Tillotson, one which resulted in miscarriage. For publication of these details, Woodhull was arrested shortly after by Anthony Comstock for moral misconduct.

1873 – Comstock Act passes–designed to stop trade in “obscene literature and immoral articles.” It targeted information specifically related to birth control devices, STD’s, human sexuality, and abortion.

1902 – Brokered by J.P. Morgan in 1902, McCormick Harvesting Machine, Deering Harvester Company, and three smaller agricultural companies merge to form International Harvester. One of the heirs to this fortune is Stanley McCormick, son of Cyrus McCormick and husband to Katherine McCormick, an impassioned suffragist.

1916 – Comstock Act directly challenged by Margaret Sanger, a vocal suffragist, when she opened a Birth Control Clinic in New York State.

1916 – Sanger is arrested for violating the Comstock Act by providing birth control information and devices to women (smuggled in from Europe) and sentenced to 30 days in a workhouse after a brief trial.

1921 – Sanger founds the American Birth Control League, finalizes her divorce.

1928 – National Committee for Federal Legislationon Birth Control formed by Sanger. Involved in pushing at least 10 Senate bills relating to birth control, one of which passed but was immediately struck down.

1936 – United States vs. One Package, in which Ms. Sanger had a package of pessaries, ie, birth control items (diaphragms most likely) directly shipped to her in the US from a physician in Japan. The resulting decision that the federal government could not interfere with doctors providing contraception to their patients. Decision overturns portion of Comstock Act. Sanger immediately shutters the NCFLBC in the resulting celebration, largely ignoring the overall legislative failure of the organization.

1942 – American Birth Control League becomes Planned Parenthood.

1942 – Abraham Stone serves as Medical Director and Vice-President of Planned Parenthood at this time. Through Stone, Sanger meets Gregory Pincus, a researcher already working on hormonal contraceptive research at Worcester Hospital. Pincus receives an initial grant from Planned Parenthood through Stone to fund his work toward a contraceptive for women.

1950’s, early – Sanger meets Katherine McCormick, a fellow suffragist and interested in the development of birth control as her husband, Stanley, suffers from Schizophrenia and she does not desire to have children with him, believing, like Sanger, women deserve to hold their reproductive rights in their own hands.

Katherine, with a fortune behind her, dives into philanthropy and pushes a great deal of her money toward the development of The Pill through her friendship with Sanger. McCormick is introduced to Pincus at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology. Extremely interested in the work of Gregory Pincus, McCormick funds his hormonal contraceptive research fully. She also fully funds the initial human trials of the new Pill.

Frank Colton, a researcher at G.D. Searle discovers how to synthesize the progestin for use in hormonal contraceptive. Recruited by Pincus and shunned by Searle, he joined in the efforts to develop the first version of The Pill.

JohnRock, an infertility specialist in Brookline, Massachusetts,  joins the team as they ready for human trial. Rock tests The Pill on his already infertile patients. It tests well but thanks to the Comstock Act, they run into issues with dispensing The Pill legally to their test subjects inside the United States. The trial moves to Puerto Rico and is supervised in 67 clinics for low-income women by EdrisRiceWray.

Time from human trial initiation to FDA approval of use of The Pill for “menstrual disorders” in 1957 is only 14 months. Three years later, an addendum is approved to add “contraceptive” to the use for The Pill.

By 1961, reports begin to surface of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms in women using the pill. Other side effects also include cardiovascular disease and a slight increase in incidence of breast cancer is suspected. The Pill continues to rise in popularity despite these risks, touted as a success in woman’s choice, finally placing her reproductive control in her hands.

In 1965, Sanger is involved in a court case, Griswold v. Connecticut, which overturns part of the Comstock Laws. The Supreme Court rules married couples have a constitutional right to use contraceptives. Eisenstadt v. Baird in 1972 would extend this same right to single women.

In 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson and the Federal Government begin public funding of contraception services for low income families as part of the War on Poverty.

In 1970, Nixon signs Title X into law, promoting research of population and family planning issues.

In 1969, Barbara Seaman authors The Doctor’s Case Against the Pill. In 1970, Senator Nelson Gaylord arranges hearings regarding contraceptive choices, known now as The Nelson Pill Hearings. The panel was all men with all male witnesses testifying about female contraceptive issues. (Sound familiar?)

Alice Wolfson, a well known political feminist, storms the Hill during the Nelson Hearings. Her actions net the Patient Pamphlet Information enclosures in Birth Control packets, warning women of the risks involved. After the Nelson Pill Hearings, Seaman and Wolfson team up to form the National Womens Health Network, a non-profit dedicated to advancing the reproductive rights and sexual education of women.

The Catholic Church also rose up and fought against the development of birth control for women, which is where Georgetown University’s student health policy comes into play and we arrive back at Sandra Fluke. In choosing to attend Georgetown University, Ms. Fluke did not feel she should have to compromise her education over her birth control choices. In fact, Ms. Fluke specifically chose Georgetown with the expressed intent to overturn the current University policy regarding birth control availability through student health care options

Just as Ms. Woodhull, Ms. Sanger, Mrs. McCormick, Ms. Seaman, and Ms. Wolfson before her, Sandra Fluke is no a stranger to advocacy for women’s reproductive rights as she has spent her years at Georgetown doing just that. She is not an innocent deserving of a comforting call from the President of our country as a result of the behaviour of a harsh critic. Sandra Fluke knew exactly what she was doing as she attempted to speak at the Issa hearing about Contraceptives. The Democrats and Pelosi knew what they were doing and for that matter, so did Issa.


Politics is nothing more than a show and we are all players. Our outrage, our disdain for each other as we finally speak up because a Georgetown Law Student was called a Slut by another Georgetown student, yet via a well known conservative radio show host, is sickening. Why? Because we are buying into the game. I am not a fan of my reproductive health bandied about in the public media any more than the next woman. But a line must be drawn. For me, I draw that line at a grown woman, executing a calculated political move, gleefully accepting the commendation and compassion of our Commander in Chief. Let us not forget Obamacare violates the First Amendment and violates our rights as Americans. To argue for this law is to argue against the very essence of everything our Forefathers put down on paper so many years ago.

The fight for Women’s Reproductive Rights has never been about liberating women. It has been about control, finances, and forcing our gender further into poverty and inserting a wedge between the genders in the workplace. It is a fight well-funded and orchestrated on both sides, the extreme left through communist and socialistic organizations and the politicized Church on the right. To leave our reproductive welfare completely in either of their hands is egregiously naive and should be avoided at all costs.


Do I have a solution? No. If I did, believe me, I would be on the phone with Pelosi, Issa, Obama, and the Pope scheduling a summit instead of writing this article.

I do believe this–my uterus, my body, my choice, my responsibility. No one else is responsible for my choice to be sexually active but me. No one else should have to fund my extra-curricular activities or the consequences thereof.

Do low-income women deserve support? Yes. They also deserve reproductive education and so do the men in their lives. Reproduction does not happen with just one gender present, as Sandra Fluke made abundantly clear when she spoke of her gay friend in need of The Pill for ovarian cysts. Should birth control be provided if proven medically necessary? Absolutely, because it’s not birth control then, it’s medication to treat a medical issue, which is why The Pill was initially approved by the FDA in 1957.

I have a small dream here–what if we all sat down and really listened to each other about this–instead of jumping to conclusions as someone with an opposing viewpoint spoke? What if we bothered to research the issue and understand the back story in order to clear a forward path? We might just get somewhere instead of turning the clock back over 40 years as we have so clearly done this past week. That, readers, would truly be progress.

photos: ibitmylip / flickr and / wildchild1976 creative commons

More on this topic:

Rush Limbaugh Finally S**ts The Bed by Mark Greene

Contraception, Abortion & Limbaugh: A Canadian Weighs In by Josh Bowman

About Lauren Hale

A two time Postpartum Depression survivor turned peer advocate, Lauren Hale blogs about Postpartum Mood Disorders at My Postpartum Voice. She also hosts #PPDChat each Monday on Twitter for families struggling with Postpartum Mood Disorders. Lauren holds a B.A. in English and enjoys writing poetry in the forests of Virginia.


  1. It seems a bit disingenuous to relegate most of Fluke’s testimony to such a minor part of an article this long. In fact, that part of the testimony is what was so relevant to the Issa hearing, as the legislation would allow organizations to disallow the pill even for medical reasons.

    “A friend of mine, for example, has polycystic ovarian syndrome, and she has to take prescription birth control to stop cysts from growing on her ovaries. Her prescription is technically covered by Georgetown’s insurance because it’s not intended to prevent pregnancy.
    “Unfortunately, under many religious institutions and insurance plans, it wouldn’t be. There would be no exception for other medical needs. And under Sen. Blunt’s amendment, Sen. Rubio’s bill or Rep. Fortenberry’s bill there’s no requirement that such an exception be made for these medical needs.

    “After months paying over $100 out-of-pocket, she just couldn’t afford her medication anymore, and she had to stop taking it.
    “I learned about all of this when I walked out of a test and got a message from her that in the middle of the night in her final exam period she’d been in the emergency room. She’d been there all night in just terrible, excruciating pain. She wrote to me, ‘It was so painful I’d woke up thinking I’ve been shot.’
    “Without her taking the birth control, a massive cyst the size of a tennis ball had grown on her ovary. She had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary as a result.”

    The Blunt amendment simply preferences one set of beliefs (an employer’s) over another’s (an employee’s). It seems that allowing the religious exemption at all, and letting government pay for it, is the problem that you have with the compromise, but it doesn’t follow that the Affordable Care Act is any sort of violation of a business’s freedom of religion (whatever that actually means), simply because insurance covers birth control.

  2. natureartist says:

    People, until we realize that this political debate is not ultimately about birth control, we will continuously be manipulated like puppets doing the bidding of politicians and political interest groups. This is about power and control of our liberty disguised as a debate about contraception. Our leaders in government are encouraging us not to debate it any other way. There is a reason for that.

    We now have at the top level, a government that is forcing a religious institution to provide to its flock and its associates, a service that is against its sacred held beliefs. Wether those services are given directly, or through the hand of another, is irrelevant to the church. I feel the belief is misguided, but it is their belief, and it is none of my business to force them to abandon it. It is unconstitutional for the government to do so.

    This is an argument about liberty, not contraception. The government keeps us at each other’s throats, thinking this is about contraception. They will set a very dangerous precedent here if they succeed. I guarantee you, it will not end here. It never does.

    There are many of you who are arguing for providing contraception to religious institutions who do not believe in it. But note that there will come a time when it will be your turn in the barrel, where your ox is gored by government intrusion. Who will speak for you? Maybe our leaders will convince us once again, that it is really about another issue. We will argue about it, as they intend for us to do, while we take our eye off the ball. Why not, it worked so well the last time.

    If we started framing this debate in its true context, we would to see a them panic in Washington. They will back off this issue faster than you can imagine. It is then that the truth behind this well planned fiasco will be revealed.

    But go ahead, keep talking about pills and health. The powers that be have us in the palm of their hand.

    • natureartist- no one seems to care about this. It drives me a bit nuts too but all it seems people care about is getting stuff they want through the government.

      “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” Alexis de Tocqueville

    • “People, until we realize that this political debate is not ultimately about birth control, we will continuously be manipulated like puppets doing the bidding of politicians and political interest groups. This is about power and control of our liberty disguised as a debate about contraception.”

      In a way you are right, but the political interest group fighting to maintain the power it has been losing is the USCCB. Most of their flock no longer listens to their proscriptions on birth control, so they fight back by claiming that the conscience rights of their employees don’t matter, that allowing employees to use their earned insurance benefit as they see fit somehow violates the bishops’ conscience rights.

      I don’t want the USCCB to “have us in the palm of their hand.”

  3. How is it possible that a student at Georgetown University Law School who pays $47,000 a year in tuition can’t afford to pay for birth control pills?

    • You either a) never were a student or b) don’t remember what it’s like to be a student. ALL of your money goes into tuition- my budget has a wiggle-room of $20 every month, otherwise I won’t make rent/hydro etc. I can save up those $20 increments to buy something special (like textbooks!) or I can harbor them away for an emergency. And I don’t even live in the US- can’t imagine having to pay tuition that high!

      • What you don’t understand is that these are wealthy or even rich people. They can afford to pay pay about $60,000 a year if you include housing, food, books, and transporation. $30 a month for BC pills is essentially free for people with that kind of money. They spend more than that on lunch every day.

        • Hm, I have no idea then, I guess there are probably lots of wealthy people at my university that I just don’t know it. I see a lot of people struggling, and we have almost all our medical covered over here- prescriptions is where they can get you if you are no longer on your parents coverage and opted out of the university coverage because it is crazy expensive (covers chiropractic, massage etc so can be excessive if you don’t use those services).

          Also, there is a range of birth control prices. I pay $65 a month, then get reimbursed through my mom’s insurance. It can make a difference which one you’re on. I can only imagine that there must be other religious institutions however that accept underprivileged students (seems like a religious task to educate those who can’t afford it), and so it is probably a bit of a distraction to just say that these wealthy students don’t deserve birth control coverage because they have enough money- chances are, there’s someone out there who needs it, but won’t be able to afford it.

          • If these were state or municipal colleges or especially community colleges (which don’t provide insurance anyway, but assuming they did) that would be an entirely different story and would affect millions more people, some of whom truly don’t have $50 a month.

            However, the only schools affected are Catholic (not other Christian) Universities, all of which are private and most of which are top level, very expensive schools, which are seldom attended by people without the means to pay $50 a month – and most of which are  regardless covered (just as you are) covered under their parents’ insurance.

            Lastly, Catholics know and obviously accept this. Those that don’t have a hundreds of other education options.

  4. The Bad Man says:

    Women should have the same rights as men.

    Standard response to men: Keep it in your pants or wear a condom.

    • AnonymousDog says:

      What would the reaction be to a male law student who testified before Congress that he had spent x amount of dollars on birth control in a year’s time, and that someone should subsidize his birth control?
      Would he be taken seriously? Would anyone at all be outraged when comedians and/or political commentators poked fun at him?

      • The fact of the matter is, males still have very little control when it comes to birth control because the only viable and widely available option on the market right now is condoms. And condoms aren’t used to treat any medical conditions. They also aren’t even ranked that high for preventing pregnancy- all the best options are exclusively for females. Not that I’m saying condoms are useless- they are crucial for STD protection obviously! When it comes down to it, the time and the resources simply have not been allotted that are needed to produce good male birth control. We still don’t even have 100% effective female birth control in as much as there are still undesirable side effect associated that haven’t been “worked out”.

        I think this is largely why women are taken seriously when it comes to talking about birth control, but men aren’t. The onus is still on the woman to take birth control, and it isn’t just something you can slip in and out- it effects and changes your body (bye bye ovulation!). Though obviously men and women would both be impacted by the regulation of hormonal contraception, I think it is probably accurate that women stand with more to lose- failure to “prove” a medical condition to access hormonal contraception, the physical difficulty that can come with completing or terminating a pregnancy etc. It may not be right, but I think it will be this way until there is a legitimate chemical birth control for males, which hopefully will be not too far in the future.

        • AnonymousDog says:

          I was married when I was in grad school, and either my wife or I had to come up with the money for birth control, but I don’t think I would have been taken seriously if I had complained about it, no matter what form we had chosen. Would my wife have really ‘more to lose’ than I would have in that situation?

          • Okay, but you are talking about an individual situation, I’m talking about a population. Women are the main caregiver in almost every family, and 40% of children are raised with absentee fathers, so I think within a population it is pretty safe to say that the woman’s lifestyle is going to be more drastically altered.

            That is not meant to be a blanket statement about INDIVIDUALS, but it is a fact about the POPULATION. I mean, if I got pregnant tomorrow, my atheist, accepting parents would beg me to come home so they could help out with the baby. My boyfriend’s roman catholic family barely speaks to him now that he is “living in sin”, so if I got pregnant he would stand to damage his family ties irreparably- so he would stand to be significantly impacted in a way I never would be. On a population though, I don’t think anyone would argue that on the whole a woman is more impacted by a pregnancy and subsequent baby than the father. We are just not at a point of gender equality and equal nurturing from both parents.

          • Also, I was mostly referring to the effect that restricting a legitimate medication, the birth control pill, would have on women. So, so many take it for non-sexual reasons, and would be significantly debilitated without it. On the other hand, it can be difficult to prove just how “medical” some of the non-condition issues are: terrible cramping, irregularity, anemia from heavy flow, or break-through bleeding can be no particular illness, but incredibly painful and uncomfortable to live with. That is what I meant by women having a lot to lose- not just their sexual freedom, but sometimes freedom to live a normal, relatively pain-free menstrual cycle as well.

    • I know you were meaning to be sassy by saying the standard response to men is to keep your pants on, but I gotta say have you never heard a female to be told to keep her legs shut? I have heard that WAY more on comments sections etc as well as real life, but that might be me being a female and therefore noticing what is relevant to me. It just seems to me that every pregnancy that occurred when I was in high school was because the girl was “loose”, and even our gym class health unit had our teacher telling us that “it is up to the girls to say no, so when in doubt keep your legs shut.”

      • I’ve heard both, but in particular I’ve heard it in discussions of post conception reproductive rights – where men have none, while women have abortion.

        When that unfairness has been challenged, the answer is often “you should have kept your pants on”, whereas many of those same persons would never dream of denying a woman an abortion by telling her she should have kept her legs closed. That is hypocritical.

        • Really? Every time I’ve spoken up for abortion rights I’ve been told that all I want is all-day, all-free sex, and that if I took responsibility and shut my legs like a good girl I would never need an abortion. Women are told from every direction that if they get an abortion, they are getting it because THEY messed up and ignored the values that have defined women in every other generation (while ignoring the fact that abortion has been going on, in various forms, since the dawn of time). I got called a slut in grade 4 because I did my “medical history” speech on abortion. I think it is pretty fair to say that even though men are told that they should control their “urges” as if they are governed by their hormones, women are treated with a very similar attitude- I think we all just experience what our gender is, which makes it hard to see the other side. Both are legitimate- I didn’t deserve to be told by my PE teacher to keep my legs closed anymore than the boys in my class would have deserved to be told to keep their pants on.

          I think it is fair to say that both men and women are told to shut up about their sex lives, because they probably should just barely be having monogamous sex within a marriage. Historically, shame has more strongly associated with females- killing, mutilation, and social stigma are some of the extreme forms that have taken place (and still take place) in various cultures. It is highly usual that a man’s life would be put in danger because someone arbitrarily decided that he was or was not a virgin (hymens are poor indicators of virginity, so technically there is no way to tell if a female is a virgin, just like you can’t tell if a male is a virgin). We see this, as well as ridiculously high incidence of rape even in developed countries, and I think it’s pretty clear to see why society takes women’s voices on birth control more “seriously”- which is not right, but historically makes sense. Men are seen as these primal creatures who just want to “get it” without the acknowledgment that their main protection from pregnancy is going to be held solely by their partner, which requires a lot of trust. With the sexual revolution and the second wave of feminism riding on hormonal birth control availability, men got left behind in the sexual dialogue.

          • Eric M. says:

            Yes, really. Imagine what the discourse would be if women were told that they had no choice but to become mothers. If a pregnancy occurred, ready or not, poor or not, 13 kids she can’t afford already or not, she is going to be a mother AND did not even have the option to put the baby up for adoption.

            Talk about abusing women and stripping them of their reproductive rights!! THAT is what men have today. And who cares? Who is trying to address this inequality, this unfairness?



            • Okay, I have already stated that men only have condoms and trust when it comes to controlling pregnancy, which is meager compared to their female counter parts. That is where we at at currently- it is physically restricted to females being the ones who have the effective birth control and the privilege (as well as burden, the side effects can be a rough time, from experience). How many women have been told they have no choice but to come mothers? Every culture in the globe has historically, and some cultures still have societies where women have absolutely no choice about their birth control or access to abortion, and would be disowned by their families, divorced from their husbands, or put in physical danger if they gave babies up for adoption. They carry the babies of rapists with no access to abortion and with a low cultural acceptation of adoption (not to mention the low rates of mothers who can carry through an adoption after carrying a baby to term). This is still an issue- it has not gone away, like you implied. You can speak for your own experience in your own country, but you can’t speak for the underprivileged (often under aged) girls that represent much of the world.

              Men have a serious lack of reproductive rights, but saying that all women have is roses and daisies all over the world just puts this into a ridiculous binary. Men and women are equally impacted by access to birth control- right now we are physically restricted to females being the corner stone. This is unfortunate, but saying that by addressing unfairness to women we are somehow demeaning men is also a little ignorant- we can acknowledge that both genders face challenges and discrimination when it comes to their sexuality, and men in general have not brought much attention to theirs, and even if they did they would hardly be taken seriously in our society.

              You’ve probably heard it before, but men should not be treated as faceless sperm donors and women should not be treated like rent-a-bodies for baby production. It is not fair on either side. No one should argue that either has an ideal situation (which is the feeling I got from your argument…)

            • Second thought, I couldn’t tell if you were actually responding favouribly to my comment…it kind of sounded like you were being sarcastic and reacting to me mentioning that women have challenges too when it comes to reproductive rights.

              • Eric M. says:

                I was not and am not being sarcastic, just making a point, okay?

                In the west where abortion is available in every country and state, the major inequality is post-conception, where women have generally 6 months during which choose to become parents or not after conception, whereas men have absolutely no post-conception reproductive rights. That is the inequality that could easily be addressed but men have no voice and this society fights tooth and nail to ensure that men continue to have zero post-conception reproductive rights as currently women have.

                • So women should have less reproductive rights because men do? This is the idea of progress? Women should have equal access to birth control, regardless of religion, colour, class, etc. Surely men can only benefit from having partners that can take birth control, thereby reducing the chances of them getting pregnant in the first place. With ladies having access to the pill and men using condoms (which are very effective at controlling pregnancy when used effectively, an excellent option for men that, even though it’s not 100% ideal, gets lost in this “men have no rights” conversation. I used condoms-only as contraception for 2 and a 1/2 years, ain’t no babies over here) we should all have a better time of it.

                  If you don’t want to pay for it- fine, that’s a fiscal and political opinion that men and women alike share. So say that you don’t support government funded birth control. Saying that women don’t really deserve rights because you feel you don’t have any does not contribute to a productive conversation and is highly petty.

  5. Anthony Zarat says:

    We got into this mess when the Democratic party disenfranchised all men, boys, and fathers in America. Obamacare is the singe most divisive and unfair American federal legislation since the 1800’s. The depth and extent of the anti-male bias in this horifing bill are impossible to explore here. Any discussion that does not focus squarely on the ways in which Obamacare disenfranchises and discriminates against men, boys, and fathers is a distraction.

    • I’m guessing this isn’t a discussion we’re going to see at ‘the good men project.’

      The attacks against Obamacare will continue to be seen as anti-female while ignoring the fact that Obamacare makes zero provisions for the specific reproductive and health care issues of men. By the very arguments put forward to paint the attacks against Obamacare as sexist against women, you could argue that Obamacare _itself_ is deeply sexist against men.

      You’d think the latter would be more relevant then the former to the ‘good men project’, but I guess not.

      • Good point. But frankly I find it more objectionable that anyone can argue that mandating insurance is Constitutional at all. Talk about a red-ribbon gift to the insurance companies, as if they weren’t bad enough.

      • Anthony Zarat says:

        Typhon, it is not just reproductive health. The magnitude of it … I just cant do it justice. I can’t. The only thing you can do is read it. You can find the full text of Obamacare here:

        It is a searchable document. A good place to start is, search for “men” and “women”. You will find that dozens of women only health services are detailed on page 1. Afterwards, there are 134 more instances of the word “women”, compared to 2 of the word “men”. Both instances of the word “men” are in meaningless “women and men” sentences. In contrast, all but 2 of the 134 instances of the word “women” outline new federal and state institutions that will oversee the American health care system, to be stafffed by “women’s experts.” Basically, this puts gender ideologues at the helm of every health related service and program, including research, drug development, drug approval, treatment options, covered services, and even consumer protection.

        What is hardest to believe is not that this outreage has happened. What is hardest to believe is that the enemy has been able to twist this on its head, and define the narrative as having something to do with contraception.

        This has nothing to do with contraception. This has to do with POWER!!!!!!! This is a document that institutionalizes virtually the unlimited power of gender ideologues over men,boys, and fathers.

        Obamacare puts people who are viciously and poisonously hostile towards all aspects of maleness and masculinity, in charge of the health care of men, boys and fathers. To see something as tragically gruesome, you will have to go back to 1930’s Germany. This is a horror of unimaginablie proportions, and it will have unthinkable consequences.

  6. Nice article except for one thing. The author, as well as many on the right in the last few days, keep pronouncing that Fluke and the Dems were disingenuous about Fluke’s background in testifying about contraception. Fluke, in her testimony, stated that as well as being a law student, she was an activist for women’s issues and women’s healthcare. So, why is she now being painted as a liar and an opportunist over contraception? Because the right can’t find anything better to use in their war on women.

    • You’re right, she does state (which I read and watched video of before writing this) that she is “a past president of Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice or LSRJ.”

      What she DOESN’T state in her “testimony” is what she stated in the Washington Post Blog post to which I link toward the end of my piece is that Fluke enrolled at Georgetown with the intent of overturning the current policy regarding Birth Control in their student health plan.

      • So this is a highly unusual action for any activist to do? Enroll in a college or join any other organization to change a policy? I think it’s naive to assume that any witness at a congressional hearing is politically “pure”. I can only imagine what the other witnesses left out their testimony of their past activities. At least she was working within the system for a cause she believed in. I think the all male panel at the hearing speaks clearly to the issue of women’s health. The fact that there doesn’t seem to be a problem with viagra being covered by heath care by religious leaders and others is equally telling. Thanks for responding.

        • Yeah, it’s highly unusual. Most people don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars they can throw at a college whose policies they may not agree with, just to go there and complain about policies they knew existed and were unlikely to be changed. It’s not like this girl had no other choices.
          I went to one of the most liberal schools in the United States. And a lot of the funds that I paid were used in ways that I don’t personally approve of. Every year each student at my school paid over $1000 in fees to a generic student organization which disseminated those funds to various groups. I’m sure I paid for thousands of free condoms, contraceptives, and all kinds of other things that didn’t benefit me and which I don’t really think it’s the school’s business to be spending my money on. Meanwhile, the school decided to withdraw funding for the sole non-liberal newspaper for publishing viewpoints it didn’t agree with.

      • So, she picks a school where the tuition is $47,000 a year to complain about not getting free packs of $30 BC pills?

        I frankly find rich people like her demanding free stuff to be off-putting.

  7. Honest questions, non snark-“Let us not forget Obamacare violates the First Amendment and violates our rights as Americans.” How? Religion?

    “The fight for Women’s Reproductive Rights has never been about liberating women. It has been about control, finances, and forcing our gender further into poverty and inserting a wedge between the genders in the workplace.” How? How is preventing pregnancy causing poverty? It’s preventative health care in a planet overburdened by people.

    I’m trying to understand your position, but am quite confused by where you actually stand. Are you angry that political people with the ability to fight politically are fighting?

    • If religious organizations are forced to comply with Obamacare against their beliefs, yes, as the First Amendment is as follows:

      ” Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

      To force someone to practice/participate something they object to due to religious reasons violates their right to freely practice their religion. Obamacare enforces fines for failing to participate which essentially punishes someone for freely practicing their religion if that’s the reason they don’t participate in Obamacare.

      No, I’m not angry that political people with the ability to fight politically are fighting. I’m angry we’re not listening to each other and everyone is up in arms without first trying to understand the issue at hand. It wasn’t Rush who first called Sandra Fluke a slut. It was another Georgetown student. Yes, it was picked up by Rush and he completely ran with it. And yes, he DOES owe her an apology. But instead of bothering to even check where the story and actions are coming from, as is typical in this day and age, everyone is running with what he said, she said on Social Media. Nevermind that Pelosi posed a press conference with Sandra to make it look like a congressional hearing. Nevermind that there WERE actually women present at the hearings, just on the first day. Nevermind that Pelosi was one of the first to bang the drums about no women present at the hearings on the first day.

      As for where I stand, I think I make that quite clear toward the end. Birth Control should be available. But the government shouldn’t be forced to pay for it unless it’s absolutely medically necessary. And just as with any insurance plan, there are medications for which higher co-pays are required – there may even be other medications for which insurance will not pay. It’s how insurance works in the US. I’m not saying it’s right, but it’s how it works.

      • What are your opinions on taxes and the 1st amendment and religious freedom and all the arguments about people not wanting to pay for wars and such? Again, serious question, I am not being snarky. For I’m fine with saying..sure don’t make people pay for BC if I don’t have to pay for wars elsewhere.

        Politics has always been theater. Always and forever. Which is why I’m not in politics even though I’m really good at theater. I see theater as a potentially life changing and spiritual form, not one that should be used to manipulate.

        I don’t do politics, though I can appreciate the theater, much like I don’t play football but can appreciate quarterbacking from my sofa.

        I do bridge building, diplomacy, peace, conflict work. I agree totally that we should be trying to hear each other on this point, but I’m seeing the poles as SO far apart right now and SO connected to things like religion vs non religion that I”m not sure how we get those poles any closer together. I don’t get it. I mean it. This whole religious thing with BC and sex.

        If BC isn’t covered then I certainly oral BC will be made over the counter available and affordable. Because a majority of US women seem to use it. Should be as cheap as aspirin 😉

        • First, I sincerely appreciate your desire to have a genuine discussion with me.

          I believe in people’s rights to protest that with which they oppose in whatever manner they choose to do so. It’s a right guaranteed to us by… the First Amendment. Unfortunately, refusing to pay your taxes will get you tossed in jail. We are losing more and more of our liberties which quite frankly, frightens me. I believe the reason so many people are up in arms against birth control has nothing to do with birth control itself. I believe it has more to do with being forced to pay for something with which they do not morally agree and facing consequences for failing to do so. Anytime you have change, there is uprising and people get vocal.

          I agree with you that the Poles are SO far apart now and very connected to things like religion and non-religion. Religion always has been and always will be a polarizing issue when attached to any topic. It’s a hot-button used by both sides to rally the ire and voices of those who aren’t already involved.

          As for religion, BC, and sex, it’s an issue which, as I illustrated, goes back quite a distance, even further back than I traced in this piece. It has to do with morality and the guidelines set forth in the bible regarding marriage and sex, adultery, remaining pure until marriage, etc. I am Christian, but not a “zealot” Christian, if you will. I believe in meeting people where they are and loving them as they are, regardless of their beliefs, etc. I don’t believe in judging people for their decisions or their actions. Not my place, it’s God’s. If we fail to love each other and acknowledge each other as people, we are failing as Christians. It saddens me to see this trend in the world today and I believe it is contributing to the current backlash against the Religious right because instead of loving others and accepting them as they are, they are harshly judging, dismissing, and throwing them under the bus. It’s absolutely unacceptable and reprehensible.

          Often I am not sure where I belong in the theatre of politics to be honest because I may not agree with the view of either side and see it completely different. Like you, I’d really appreciate a decent discussion which allowed everyone to complete a thought without crude or thoughtless attack. But I know it’s a lost cause so I do what I can where I can to try to add some thoughtfulness and “HEY. Wait a second…” to the conversation, reaching who I can while doing so.

          • There are many guidelines set in the bible that are not followed today. The bible, in my opinion, was written by humans during a time that was far different than our. It was written by many different voices, translated throughout centuries and I figure it would be nigh on impossible to see the actual word from the actual time. If there is a god, that god gave us brains to create with. We don’t “bleed” people for example or utilize the Humours in our medicine. We advance. There are other religions in the world that don’t feel the same way about sexuality.

            Where I balk, as a spiritual person though not a Christian, is where this intensity of focus on sex comes up. I don’t think there is anything wrong with sex. I do think it can be consumed poorly (like if you lived a life of eating fast food), but I don’t think one should be “anorexic” about sex either (never having touch and romantic companionship if you aren’t married). I don’t think preventing pregnancy is a bad thing. I think wanted children should be the goal, especially if we want to minimize abortions.

            I don’t want religion in my government and I see it everywhere. I suppose I find it as offensive as some religious people find my desire for BC.

            Its a hard conversation to have.

            • wellokaythen says:

              Yes, most versions of the Bible are quite clear on many particulars. It is categorically against eating meat and dairy on the same plate (no cheeseburgers!), against eating pork or shellfish (no bacon or lobster!), against shaving your face (razors are an abomination!), and against wearing cloth with more than one kind of thread (no cotton/poly blends!). It explicitly demands the death penalty for witches (wiccans beware!). Women should also not wear braided hair in church and should sit in the back and be quiet. Paul’s letters are quite clear on that.

              Modern-day Christians have largely dispensed with these biblical injunctions, so why not others?

              Besides, I am not aware of any specific proscriptions against birth control in the Bible. There are some that can be interpreted to be anti-abortion, maybe, but I don’t recall any “thou shalt not limit a woman’s fertility.”

            • Julie,

              You wrote:
              “I don’t want religion in my government and I see it everywhere.”

              Yet I find this logic troubling because so much of what is going on right now is really just one system of morality yelling at the other.

              There is no real argument for government-run healthcare beyond “it’s morally right.” The current package was actually discouraged by Obama’s own economic advisors (Ron Suskind’s book Confidence Men has some great passages on this), nor do most healthcare experts really expect it to bring down costs or improve efficiency in the system.

              Instead, it’s just based on the argument that healthcare is “morally right.” And now the other side is saying that forcing birth control coverage is “morally wrong.”

              Yet you now want to draw a line and say that your morals are correct, even though they’re not based on efficiency, economics, healthcare expectations, etc. And their morals are incorrect because they’re religiously based.

              You don’t seem to see that nothing is holding up your morals either. There’s no empirical evidence that your point of view is correct. Indeed, as the Supreme Court has stated, “Secular Humanism” could rightly be described as a religion because it is simply an unsupported system of value judgments: just as a religion is.

              Why do their unsupported judgments get dismissed as “religion in government” but your unsupported judgments get upheld as “morally correct”?

      • “To force someone to practice/participate something they object to due to religious reasons violates their right to freely practice their religion. Obamacare enforces fines for failing to participate which essentially punishes someone for freely practicing their religion if that’s the reason they don’t participate in Obamacare.”

        This is a tricky one because it begs the question, is Georgetown University a religious institution or an educational one? Of course the answer is, both, but sometimes law and policy force institutions to come down on one side or the other.

        Because if Georgetown is primarily a religious institution (and an educational institution second) then yeah, I think a case could be made for a First Amendment violation if they’re forced to provide insurance coverage that pays for contraception.

        But is that the case? Briefly browsing the Georgetown website, they seem to push their educational identity far more than their religious one. In addition, they readily acknowledge that they embrace plurality.

        On their “Jesuit and Catholic Identity” page, they have the following: “On any given week, more than 50 different religious services are taking place across our campuses, including Catholic Masses, Muslim prayer services, Orthodox Christian services, Jewish Shabbat services, and Protestant services and Bible studies.” To me, that would suggest that they hold their Jesuit identity sincerely, but loosely (because a firm Catholic identity would not be as open to the faith practices outside of Catholicism).

        Also, I think a strong case can be made for the idea that the First Amendment was drafted primarily with churches in mind. The framers wanted to ensure that the rites and practices of churches would not be infringed upon by the state. I think anyone would be hard pressed to define Georgetown University as a church or even a seminary, training people primarily for work in the church (looking at their Academics page, they don’t even offer degrees directly related to the priesthood).

        To make the argument that forcing this public, pluralistic, educational institution (that just happens to have a Jesuit religious heritage) to provide insurance that allows for (but does not mandate nor necessarily pay for) coverage of contraception seems like a bit of a stretch.

        • Great points.

        • wellokaythen says:

          Besides, in order to be a fully accredited higher education institution, Georgetown has to go through the same accreditation process as any other school, public or private. It has to adhere to some general guidelines in terms of employment practices, curriculum development, qualifications of its faculty, etc. For example, it has to follow the same anti-discrimination guidelines that any other quality school has to follow.

          If Georgetown made its instruction more strictly in line with more conservative religious doctrine, it would lose accreditation and a lot of the benefits that come with being recognized as a good school. If the bio classes started teaching creationism and the pre-med classes ignored human reproduction and the pre-pharmacy classes never talked about birth control, it would cease to be a fully qualified university. Professional and academic institutions might stop recognizing a degree from Georgetown.

      • wellokaythen says:

        In principle, sure, the government should not impose against anyone’s religion.

        But, what about the argument that some people make who say that access to birth control is a fundamental God-given right? Whether you think they have a good biblical basis for that or not, it’s still a religious belief, and if government allows other religious beliefs to violate that belief, then government is violating the first amendment in the other direction.

        Ultimately, the government has to make decisions that may impinge upon some beliefs at the expense of others. There are plenty of biblical references that are perfectly compatible with slavery, but I have to say I think it’s okay for the government to outlaw slavery, no matter how anyone’s religion feels about it.

        The more pluralistic and individualistic forms of religion will probably gain at the expense of the more narrow-minded and exclusive ones. That’s not an equal treatment of all religious faiths, but it seems to be necessary.

  8. steve jaeger says:

    This really boils down to one thing. As the economy improves, conservatives are losing traction on the one issue they were positive they’d be able to use to bring Obama down with. Minus that they needed an issue to whip up the base with. Unfortunately for them they have blundered into a minefield and have now fallen back on to Rush Limbaugh et al to cover the retreat. Limbaugh can and will say whatever he pleases because he knows no one in the GOP will censure him and whatever fines or judgements may go against him are a drop in the bucket compared to what he earns for himself and him employers.


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