The Case for Free Con­tra­cep­tion

Trump and the GOP are wag­ing a run­away re­li­gious war against women’s health

Newsweek International - - CONTENTS - BY CHELSEA HAN­DLER & GLEN HAN­DLER

Ev­ery­one loves for­ni­cat­ing;

it’s the old­est sport and the old­est busi­ness in the world. But we’ve now got 7.6 bil­lion hu­man prod­ucts of for­ni­ca­tion (and other forms of cop­u­la­tion) over­pop­u­lat­ing the planet to prove the point.

For­ni­ca­tion with­out some form of birth con­trol pro­duces an ex­plod­ing hu­man pop­u­la­tion, strain­ing gov­ern­ment re­sources, de­grad­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and driv­ing mass mi­gra­tion. If we could do just one sim­ple thing to sta­bi­lize the globe, it would be to give the world’s women un­re­stricted, free ac­cess to mod­ern con­tra­cep­tion.

And yes, it turns out, gov­ern­ment can play an im­por­tant role in the bed­room. Look no far­ther than Colorado, the state that has also, wisely, made cannabis le­gal. This pur­ple state with a Demo­cratic gov­er­nor and an open mind has of­fered free or low-cost ac­cess to in­trauter­ine de­vices for poor young women since 2009. The re­sult: Between 2009 and 2017, the state’s teen birth rate fell 54 per­cent, and the teen abor­tion rate de­clined 64 per­cent. As a bonus, ac­cord­ing to The Den­ver Post, Colorado avoided pay­ing nearly $70 mil­lion for la­bor and de­liv­ery costs, neona­tal costs, med­i­cal ex­penses, food stamps and child care as­sis­tance be­cause of fewer births to teen moms.

That strikes us as fall­ing squarely within con­ser­va­tive val­ues. But guess who’s op­posed to that kind of stun­ning re­duc­tion in the abor­tion rate? Colorado Repub­li­cans, who briefly cut fund­ing for the pro­gram in 2015 be­fore it was re­stored. They can’t stand a gov­ern­ment suc­cess story, and they lie in the name of re­li­gion by call­ing IUDS an abor­ti­fa­cient, which they are not. Ap­par­ently, Colorado Repub­li­cans would rather con­cuss Amer­ica’s brains with a prayer book and see higher abor­tion rates than solve a prob­lem with com­mon con­tra­cep­tion.

Un­for­tu­nately, this kind of rea­son-free, re­li­gious la-la land has dom­i­nated Wash­ing­ton for years, grow­ing much worse in the Trump era. And Amer­ica is far from the only ca­su­alty.

One of Don­ald Trump’s first acts as pres­i­dent was to re-im­ple­ment the global gag rule that pro­hibits al­lo­ca­tion of U.S. fund­ing to for­eign non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions that of­fer abor­tion ser­vices or talk about abor­tion. One year later, global health care work­ers say the re­sult has been dis­as­trous, with con­tra­cep­tion clin­ics clos­ing and un­safe and fa­tal abor­tions ris­ing. Even if a clinic sup­plies birth con­trol pills, con­doms, IUDS or other non­abor­tion ser­vices, if it “talks about abor­tion,” it now gets zero U.S. fund­ing and may have to close. A zero-tol­er­ance abor­tion pol­icy has pro­duced a zero-tol­er­ance con­tra­cep­tion pol­icy.

Marie Stopes In­ter­na­tional, a Lon­don-based abor­tion and con­tra­cep­tion provider, es­ti­mates that the 2 mil­lion women it serves are los­ing ac­cess to all types of con­tra­cep­tion from their or­ga­ni­za­tion alone due to the global gag rule de­fund­ing. The real im­pact is much larger and de­struc­tive when all global NGOS are com­bined. Mak­ing mat­ters worse, Trump also ended U.S. fund­ing for the United Na­tions Pop­u­la­tion Fund, the world’s largest provider of con­tra­cep­tives and re­pro­duc­tive health ser­vices, serv­ing 12.5 mil­lion women in more than 46 coun­tries.

Over­pop­u­la­tion is wors­en­ing, en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion is ac­cel­er­at­ing, and mass mi­gra­tion from poor coun­tries to rich coun­tries is boom­ing. Mean­while, the Repub­li­can Party is pray­ing and telling the world to be fruit­ful and mul­ti­ply, even as it sends troops to the border to con­front a car­a­van of women and chil­dren.

With a Con­gress filled with new faces, now’s the time to lobby your (likely Demo­cratic) rep­re­sen­ta­tive and stop the right-wing war on women, logic and com­mon sense. →Chelsea Han­dler is a co­me­dian, author and ac­tivist. Glen Han­dler is her brother.

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