Friday August 20, 2010

Pro-Abort Law Group Rails against USCCB for Opposing the Pill

By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 20, 2010 ( – The National Women’s Law Center has taken aim at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for saying that a Medicaid waiver offering free birth control to low-income women embodies “a very dismissive view of women.”

In a Wall Street Journal article discussing Wisconsin’s implementation of the plan, Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said that the notion of extending only birth control to a wider swath of women otherwise ineligible for Medicaid is guided by “a very dismissive view of women.”

The message sent my such an initiative is that “The reproductive system is the only part of you we’re interested in, and our interest is only to make sure it doesn’t produce,” he said.

But one pro-abortion group retaliated by hailing the “happier, healthier, fuller lives” women lead thanks to birth control.

“Thanks for you concern, Richard. But here’s the truth: contraception helps women,” retorted Steph Sterling of the National Women’s Law Center.

Sterling went on to point out testimonials of how the Pill helped one woman overcome severe menstrual cramps, and helped others make lifestyle choices: one said the Pill helped her “not be kept barefoot and pregnant” and escape an abusive husband, while another rejoiced that the drug allowed her to pursue a career and “have children on my terms.” “You know what? It’s one thing to oppose birth control. But it’s especially galling to oppose birth control and claim that it’s for my own good,” Sterling concluded. “Enough is enough.”

For his part Matt Sande, legislative director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, took issue with the claim that contraceptives, when used as birth control, are essentially health care – and questioned the dismissal of their adverse side effects. “How is that health care? How is that improving the health of your reproductive system?” he asked

Pointing out the abortifacient effect of the morning-after pill, he added, “What about the health of the preborn child, that embryonic baby? Are they part of the equation?”

Among Sande’s top concerns with the program was the fact that teenagers as young as 15 are able to access contraceptives without parental knowledge: not only are clinics not required to inform parents, but they are disallowed from doing so by federal privacy laws. He said his office had been called by parents bewildered to learn that their children had been accessing contraception without their knowledge.

“Parents are naturally concerned about the sexual health of their kids, not only to protect them physically, but to guide them morally,” said Sande. “These programs totally undermine the parent-child relationship. They ought to be reinforcing it, not sabotaging it.” Sande’s group is continuing a years-long struggle to pass legislation increasing the eligibility limit for the state program to 18 years.

While it already covers the abortifacient morning-after pill, the plan may also soon become the venue for even later-stage abortions thanks to the introduction of the new “ella” drug. The drug, which was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a contraceptive, operates similarly to the RU-486 abortion drug, and can kill an embryo even after he or she has implanted in the womb.

In addition to the many adverse side effects of contraceptives – Sande pointed to the 22 deaths linked to the Ortho Evra contraceptive patch since its approval by the FDA – Sande affirmed that the programs amounted to a misuse of Medicaid funds.

“This is a lifestyle choice, and as such, the taxpayers certainly shouldn’t be funding it,” he said. “Medicaid is a health care program to improve health outcomes.”

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