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The Tally Ho

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

BBC Report

I am listening to the BBC World Service and they just had a report about the anti-choicers next target, the birth control pill. The five minute story started by interviewing a GP in Wisconsin who refuses to write prescriptions for birth control pills. Why? Something to the effect that is 99% successful, but there is still a chance, no matter how small of fertilization. The second interviewee was a pharmacist in Texas that refuses to fill birth control pill prescriptions, for moral reasons. The BBC ended with a statement that obviously implied that the anti-choicers can't really restrict abortion anymore than they have so the next step is to attack birth control.

I guess what they want is no abortion, no birth control, no education...

Maybe Trope can drop off a comment on this.

Update: Speaking of wingnuttery at its finest, check out this Kos story about the OK Senate rate and this linked Salon article.

Addition: Trope wrote three comments to this post. I will post all three right here.

Trope Responds:
Ah, be still my fist. According to our medical director at a health care facility in Chicago, combined oral contraceptives (COC's; any estrogen/progesterone daily therapy, including patches and rings) are "the gold standard of effectiveness against pregnancy; when taken correctly, pills have a 99.6% effectiveness rate, compared to 99.8% for male sterilization and 99.5% for female sterilization." Most of the medical texts I've read agree with him. So: COCs are more effective against pregnancy than a tubal ligation within one year, comparable to a vasectomy, and those two options are permanent. Are these docs just suggesting that women should not ever have sex if they don't want pregnancy? In many cases, females don't even have the currency to require condom use or periodic abstinence in their relationships.

As for other methods... condoms are great for preventing STIs, but they have a real-life effectiveness rating of about 85-90%, mostly because they're too easy to not use. Many of the anti-choicers I've met are advocating fertility awareness for women, which is such a leisure-class idea I don't generally bother to refute it. (Go to several classes with a medical professional. Take your temp at the same time every morning before you get out of bed. Check your cervical mucus for signs of ovulation. Write everything down on a big ol'chart. Collect three months of data before you can make predictions. And then on the days when you're fertile, say, "Sorry, honey, I can't have sex tonight. Let's just cuddle instead.") *I* couldn't do that. How could we ask a woman doing shift work, with three kids and a drop-in boyfriend, to pull that off effectively? "Natural family planning" is 75-91% effective, by the way.

On a positive note, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation (http://www.gatesfoundation.org/GlobalHealth/) continues to work on an effective microbicide that could be used by women who can't negotiate condom use--as opposed to the spermicide N-9, which can actually increase HIV risk with heavy use. This could make a huge dent in the HIV prevalance in Africa, and as a bonus it would remove another of the anti-choicers' complaints against the wholesale use of hormonal contraceptives. One of the ranty flyers I collected when I was volunteering as a clinic escort referred to the "unholy trinity of abortion, contraception, and sex education". Whether or not they succeed in outlawing abortion, they will continue their attempts to restrict hormonal contraception, including emergency contraception. For many hardliners, it's all the same thing: sex is fundamentally bad, and anyone who succumbs to this animal urge should suffer the consequences, particularly if they're female. Unfortunately, they have a right to teach their kids these beliefs, although their brand of paternalistic misogyny makes my blood boil. But they shouldn't have any right to inflict it on the rest of us.

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