The Bush administration again has appointed a chief of family planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who has been critical of contraception.
Susan Orr, most recently an associate commissioner in the Administration for Children and Families, was appointed Monday to be acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs. She will oversee $283 million in annual grants to provide low-income families and others with contraceptive services, counseling and preventive screenings.
In a 2001 article in The Washington Post, Orr applauded a Bush proposal to stop requiring all health insurance plans for federal employees to cover a broad range of birth control. "We're quite pleased, because fertility is not a disease," said Orr, then an official with the Family Research Council.
The Family Research Council. Why should I be surprised? When they're not sending Charmaine Yoest out to lie about Plan B, or trying to hide where their chief Tony Perkins looks for political support (*cough* David Duke *cough*), they're bashing gays or women's rights.
Yes, fertility is not a disease, but it is a problem. Women simply don't want to push out a baby a year for their entire reproductive lifetime. And who can blame them?
The motives of the FRC are pretty clear, disempower women, suggest they're bad parents if they don't stay home at the beck and call of their rugrats, keep them pregnant for 30 years, out of the workplace, and subservient to men. Think I'm kidding? Why the vehement opposition to birth control? It prevents conception - you'd think they'd approve. Why should they oppose contraception if not to tie women down by the uterus? Or to deny them from possessing sexual power equivalent to men?
Don't be so negative. Think of the positive contributions Ms. Orr will make toward solving this nation's many problems. By not actually giving out any of those grands for birth control, she'll make bold move in the direction of balancing the budget. By forcing low income families to have lots of babies, she'll be providing much needed soldiers for the homeland, which should be at war with Kazakhstan, Albania, and Mali by the time they're in high-school.
But the Conservative bloggers just told us that it is irresponsible to have babies if you cannot afford the health insurance, in case she has a heart defect or something, because you would then depend of government programs they'd rather cancel.
So, couples should practice abstinence, too. Maybe play cards together.
I assume that part of the Right's plan for eliminating birth control includes the provision that every time a man has sex, he is completely responsible for any issue of that act. That means no sex before marriage and nothing on the side.
So, we're pretty much at the stage where we can assume every two bit moralizer has some sort of gigantic kink, right? What do you suppose Orr's is?
Children? Animals? Wetsuits? Young animals in wetsuits?
The conservative approach to contraception is based on two fantasies:
1: All sex outside of marriage is inherently an evil practice. Using contraception doesn't make it acceptable - its still a dirty sinful evil corrupt action and must be stoped.
2: All marriages will benefit from children. Within marriage children are always a gift from God and, even if unplanned, will be welcomed and cared for.
If you disagree with the first, you are adultering scum. If you disagree with the second, you hate children.
Actually, it's easier to understand if you recognize the fact that to these people sex is evil in and of itself, and only acceptable for the purpose of having children. Thus, if people are having sex but preventing the woman from getting pregnant, they are engaging in a sinful activity. The only purpose of contraception is to prevent the only acceptable outcome of sex. In other words, people who get to have sex just for fun should die and go to hell.
The Bush administration is not saying that people should not be having sex (or having lots of babies); they're saying that POOR people should not be having sex. After all, rich folk can afford birth control even if it's not covered by health insurance. The implied moral lesson here is thus that if you cannot afford the price of birth control or the cost of having and raising a baby, THEN you shouldn't have sex.
I wouldn't necessarily say that's bad thinking (it makes good personal economic sense), but it certainly is overly idealistic thinking, especially with all the data showing how terribly ineffective abstinence-only education is.
In the larger scheme, why did Bush decide to take such an idealistic stance on this particular issue? He makes more pragmatic stands all the time, overlooking genocide and human rights abuses in countries that are strategic political and economic partners and compromising the civil rights of American citizens in the name of national security. If he can allow much worse things than premarital sex to occur on his watch, why won't he make allowances to prevent unwanted pregnancies while simultaneously promoting what he considers sound, moral behavior?
How come we can't avoid having a kid but once it's here it shouldn't get any health care?
"I wouldn't necessarily say that's bad thinking..."
The idea that anyone is going to stop having sex because they can't afford contraceptives or babies is not idealistic, it's so far from the real world it's beyond irrational. You don't expect any other animal in the world to do that, do you? Why should you expect humans to do it?
In the larger scheme, why did Bush decide to take such an idealistic stance on this particular issue?
That seems straightforward. Bush's favoured set of policies overlaps with, but is not identical to, that of his base. That means, in order to get away with stuff that's important to him but the base may not be entirely happy with (like trading with the bad guys) he will try to look firm on policies he doesn't care much about one way or the other, but matter to the base. The combination is peculiarly toxic in this case, but I guess all politicians do it.
A common misconception* is that the religious/conservative movement believes that all sex without the purpose or at least possibility of children is unacceptable. This is incorrect. There are a few who hold this position, almost entirely Catholics following the strict RCC teaching on the matter, but the more popular view is that sex does have legitimate purposes other than breeding.
One position on which the movement agrees with near perfect unanimity is that sex without marriage is completly unacceptable - this includes premarital sex, extramarital sex, and post-divorce or post-spouse-death sex. Any sex between two people who do not have a legally recognised marriage is seen as sinful at best, and a crime against God and nature at worst. Within marriage, sex is encouraged as a means to bring couples together and ensure a healthy relationship.
Further, when the group characterises itsself as pro-family, a significent part of this is a heavy emphesis on the value and need for children. A marriage without children is considered incomplete. Children are seen as literal gifts from God - to love and care for, and a vital purpose in life. There is no such thing as an unwanted baby.
It is these two positions that lead to the position on contraception: Contraception is considered immoral not because it allows sex without reproduction, but because there is *no* moral use for contraception:
- Moral unmarried people should not be having sex, and so have no need for contaception. Providing access to contraception can only encourage their sinful and vile behavior.
- Married people should be having sex, and prefably plenty of it - but they should also be ready to accept children. The idea that someone could be married and not be a good parent is incomprehensable: Many people may *think* they dont want children, but once they see their new baby they will immediatly be transformed into perfect loving and eager parents.
The conclusion then is that, from the perspective of the socially conservative religious population, contraception is actively harmful to the unmarried and of no value to the married, and as such should always be opposed as a harmful influence on society.
This is also a wonderful example of why non-physicians should not be in charge of medical decisions (ie access to birth control).
Ive been on birth control from a very young age for health reasons-- including fun stuff like debilitating migraines, and potential loss of fertility.
Is Ms Orr married and of childbearing age? If so, we obviously don't have to worry, she will have to take maternity leave any time now.
I enjoy the blog; was just wondering your comments are almost identical to Zuska's at http://scienceblogs.com/thusspakezuska/2007/10/bush_administration_deci… Neither of you has attributed the comments to anyone else.
Wow, we actually do have some crossover readership. It was a bit of an experiment Tom. I wrote it and shared it with Zuska to see if the post would engender a different response between our two readerships. It was surprisingly similar though, I thought for sure she'd get trolled over it.
"Fertility is not a disease, but it is a problem".I am not agree with this.