Bad Answers: Inevitable Result of Mistaken Beliefs

Looking at a story in the news this morning.

Study: Free Birth Control Leads to Fewer Abortions

Free birth control led to dramatically lower rates of abortions and teen births, a large study concludes. The findings were eagerly anticipated and come as a bitterly contested Obama administration policy is poised to offer similar coverage.

The project tracked more than 9,000 women in St. Louis, many of them poor or uninsured. They were given their choice of a range of contraceptive methods at no cost — from birth control pills to goof-proof options like the IUD or a matchstick-sized implant.

When price wasn’t an issue, women flocked to the most effective contraceptives — the implanted options, which typically cost hundreds of dollars up-front to insert. These women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies as a result, reported Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University in St. Louis in a study published Thursday.

Let me do something special with this next paragraph:

The effect on teen pregnancy was striking: There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study. Compare that to a national rate of 34 births per 1,000 teens in 2010.

MORE THAN FIVE TIMES more unplanned babies in the teens who couldn’t get free birth control.

MORE THAN FIVE TIMES more unplanned babies in the teens who couldn’t get free birth control.

MORE THAN FIVE TIMES more unplanned babies in the teens who couldn’t get free birth control.

Okay, got that?

Now look at this opinion piece.

Shocking: Nation’s Leading Gynecologists Recommend Semi-Permanent Birth Control for Teens

If you read that in a voice of comically breathless outrage, you will be close to expressing how I feel about it. And about its author:

Kristi Burton Brown is a pro-life activist in her home state of Colorado, a pro-bono attorney for Life Legal Defense Fund, an allied attorney for Alliance Defense Fund, and a stay-at-home mom. She is married to the amazing David Brown, and together, they have the cutest baby girl in the world! Kristi loves her Savior, Jesus Christ, speaking out for the truth, reading historical fiction, scrapbooking, politics, and cooking.

This woman, who finds it necessary to rave about her own personal savior in a one-paragraph bio, is convinced a fertilized ovum is a baby. I had to chime in:

Obviously the goal is to Kill Babies. Couldn’t be anything in there about, oh, wanting babies to be born to people who actually want them. Or wanting to preserve for teens the chance at broad opportunities in life, undiminished by a single mistake. I guess it’s just the naturally murderous nature of obstetricians and gynecologists. Plus that ugly idea that a single cell is not already a cuddly, cooing pink-toed living human baby.

And she had to answer (in part):

But to encourage a lack of responsibility and accountability for one’s actions–by eliminating the consequences (pregnancy) rather than the cause (sex)–is what we are opposed to.

Get that? Pregnancy is a CONSEQUENCE. The punishment for a lack of accountability.

Yeah, you godless sluts, no getting off free for YOU. Have that baby and see how you feel THEN!

If you would like to have a broad chance at opportunities, the best way to avoid diminishing that is to NOT make the single mistake! Is it not the case that abstaining from drinking alcohol is the most logical way to avoid alcoholism? Sure, it may not be *realistic* or *practical*, which seems to be the criticism of abstinence, but when human well being and human lives are at stake, are we going to go with what’s safe or what’s practical?

Stop having sex! Stop it! Human well being and human lives are at stake!

Later she adds:

Actually, there is no such thing as a “fertilized egg,” scientifically speaking. At the moment that fertilization occurs, a new, unique human being is created and the “egg” is no more.

Like I said, a cuddly, cooing pink-toed living human baby.

Ms. Brown says she is not opposed to other forms of birth control, as long as … well, essentially as long as they don’t result in murder of cuddly, cooing pink-toed human babies.

In a follow-up comment, I make a point about “wantedness” — which to me is the heart of the entire issue of birth control:

This is not to mention the life an unwanted child may be condemned to. The huge unspoken assumption in all the pro-life arguments seems to be “Oh, somehow that baby will be loved. It’ll just happen.” Some of us out here know it sometimes just doesn’t.

Seems to me that any woman having any doubts at all about whether she wants to have a baby right now should have available EVERY possible way to prevent it … until she consciously and deliberately decides that she really does want a baby.

My motto is: Every child wanted, every child loved — whatever it takes. Family planning, contraceptives, condoms, adoption, abortion. Whatever it takes.

Her predictable interpretation is:

You’re basically arguing that if a person isn’t loved, they should be killed and blotted out of existence.


See where we both are? I think I’m talking about maximizing love, enhancing life and joy; she thinks I’m talking about murder. One-hundred-eighty degrees opposite. Our conclusions couldn’t be further apart.

There is a single belief — a religious belief — at the heart of this discrepancy.

Brown has the unshakeable conviction that there’s something special about the fertilized egg. Though she never mentions it, that something special is a soul — which in her religious view (I’m guessing from the context), takes up residence at the instant of fertilization.

Thanks to that mistaken belief, Brown is opposed to contraception such as the kinds most poor women would choose if given the option. Resulting — as this study shows — in more than five times the unplanned births that would otherwise occur.

(As someone who grew up poor, I don’t think I need to point out that five extra children in the same space that might otherwise hold one, if the parents were given a choice, is a recipe for a large number of less-than-joyous childhoods. But I’ll point it out anyway, for the Mitt Romneys among us.)

Religious beliefs have real-world consequences. Those consequences match the wrongness or rightness of the belief itself.

Her mistaken belief, if given free rein and concretized in law, would — DOES! — cause immense misery.

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  • steve84

    Having pregnancies as a punishment for naughty, evil, sinful sex is a *huge* part of the entire “pro-life” movement. Not surprising at all.

    •;u=74796 Tristan Raynolds

      Red sky in the morning, shepherds warning. – German Proverb

  • baal

    Yes – this is in my top three or so reasons why I’m an anti-theist. If you actually want to reduce teen pregnancy (and not all teens are capable of preventing sex and they aren’t necessarily empowered to have full control over their bodies), freely available birth control is huge. The other 2 big factors are effective scientific sex ed and providing an adequate education.

  • Buzz Saw

    I’m trying to see if I understand what she means by this comment: “Sure, it may not be *realistic* or *practical*, which seems to be the criticism of abstinence, but when human well being and human lives are at stake, are we going to go with what’s safe or what’s practical?”

    So she’s saying we want to do what’s safe? And what she deems to be “safe” is to not allow people to use birth control? The bizarre part, and maybe I’m missing some context here, is that she seems to be defending the idea of abstinence-only education while conceding that it is not realistic. That hurts my head just thinking about how messed up that is. I suppose it makes more sense when you look at it from what is likely her perspective that the alternative (safe-sex education) is undesirable…so undesirable, in fact, that she’d rather use an ineffective method and “suffer” the consequences. But then she’s not the one who is actually suffering, so that probably makes it easier for her to dismiss those consequences as trivial. As someone who likewise grew up poor, I reject that notion.

    • ashleybell

      Yep. her statements show she doesn’t give a damn about abortions. This new information shows absolutely that birth control seriously reduces the number of abortions peformed.

      I know they must exist, but I still have never seen a pro-lifer who got behind their argument by being supporters of early sex-ed, availability of contraception, supporting social programs, etc.

      That’s why pro-life arguments are utterly fucking worthless. I mean there absolutely HAS to be some measure or attempt at internal consistency in your argument. When an argument can be shredded in one fucking sentence and you still refuse to change your position, you’re just as much of a shit as your position is.

  • embraceyourinnercrone

    I truly do not get the complete lack of logic from these people. If you make contraception easily available to teenagers (or you know, everybody)and make it no cost, then more people will use it and there will be fewer unplanned pregnancies. I am tempted to say “Well DUH!” but as the parent of a teenager I am familiar with the unfortunate tendency of many parents to think that if they can get birth control without involving their parents, then their kids will have sex. News flash, they are teenagers and humans, they are probably going to have sex anyway. They need birth control and good sex education so they can have fun with out getting an STD or pregnant (yes I know most birth control methods won’t protect against an STD)

    I know a lot of parents would object that their kids should not be able to make medical decisions without their consent but, to me the dangers, including the health dangers of a pregnancy out weigh that. In the end your child is going to make a lot of decisions with out consulting you, your job as a parent, in my opinion is to give them the tools to make good choices. YMMV.

    • ashleybell

      Hear, hear

    • Vicki

      I didn’t have to worry about birth control at 17, because my first lover was another woman. But that’s also not a solution those people would endorse. (I would like to think that if pregnancy had been a possibility, we would have taken precautions, but I don’t actually know that.)

  • flynn

    She has forgotten about sexually-transmitted disease. Be happy, Brown, all the parties involved in the sex can be punished as God intended face consequences, without a birth.

  • Johnny Vector

    Try asking her what Jesus said about abortion, or when a fertilized egg becomes a human. Or indeed, what the bible says in toto about abortion.

    The key point here is whether a fertilized egg (or an embryo, or a fetus) is worthy of the protections we afford to other people. That really goes to the question of why is murder bad? So, why is it bad? Because we know there is another person there, with hir own self-awareness, and empathy makes us understand we don’t want our awareness ended. Once you get there, it’s clear that a zygote or an embryo is not worthy of protection equal to a person. The question becomes when does self-awareness appear? If we had a brain scan that could tell you that, I would be totally cool with making that the cutoff for legal abortion.

    • Zme

      The general consensus is that, in normal development, self awareness occurs 9 – 18 months after birth.

    • Ibis3, member of the Oppressed Sisterhood fanclub

      And ignore the fact that, as a person, the woman has a right to life, security of person, bodily autonomy, and self-determination. She is not an incubating machine no matter how developed the foetus is.

      • Freodin

        There are situations where rights of individual persons can clash, and I’d say that this is such a situation. Personally, I think that abortions are a horrible difficult ethical situation to solve and should be avoided if feasable.

        And that is just another point that makes me wonder why at all people can object to birth control and sensible sex ed. There are even more opposed to abortion than I am! These things reduce the number of abortions! What the heck is wrong with their minds?

  • cathyw

    I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no point in arguing about birth control with anyone who will tell you that a fertilized egg is in every way equal to the baby that might be born from it 9 months later. I gape and sputter at them when they make that assertion, just as I’m sure they gape and sputter at me when I ask, in all sincerity, just why non-marital sex must have “consequences” and one must be “accountable” for it.

    I do wonder, though: Does Ms. Brown think nobody had sex outside marriage before birth control was widely available? Or was it simply that we were “civilized” enough to ostracize unwed mothers and label them “sluts” and their children “bastards”?

  • Pierce R. Butler

    So Brown admits, with a little excess verbiage, that “… eliminating … sex …” is her movement’s explicit goal.

    (Note: I did not omit any significant qualifiers, such as “marital” or “unsafe”, in the above excerpt.)

    And they wonder why we aren’t all lining up behind them.

  • dd

    Ugh! “But to encourage a lack of responsibility and accountability for one’s actions–by eliminating the consequences (pregnancy) rather than the cause (sex)–is what we are opposed to.”

    Right. Because having a baby should be a PUNISHMENT. What a great reason to bring a child into this world – as an object lesson for its parent(s)! I’m sure that child’s going to grow up ever so loved!

    It’s pretty hypocritical for her to walk around saying she cares about life, and then say that the birth of a child is nothing more than an object lesson.

    And, she talks about “lack of responsibility” but isn’t using birth control actually a way to BE responsible?

  • Steve R

    I’ve posted it before. Once you accept that “Pro-Life!!!” really means pro-misery, all of the forced-birther rhetoric makes perfect sense. Increasing the number of unwanted babies, and especially increasing the rate of teen pregnancy by mandating the ineffective “abstinence only” approach to sex education, increases the amount of suffering in the world, and suffering is the fuel of the pernicious Cult of The Cross.

  • douglaslm

    My wife and I have been foster parents (in St. Louis) for 14 years now. We have had 34 kids through the house in that time. Some as short as overnight emergency placement to over 4 years. One girl we have adopted and she now has a son, we couldn’t be prouder grandparents (contact me for 16 hour dissertation of how all 4 of my grandkids are the best in the world).
    The point is I have experience with all of these “unwanted” kids, that were pink toed little babes. Or in most cases like my newest daughter dark toed little babes.
    And while there tends to be a lot of religious people doing the foster care, they never seem to be the upper or middle class religious people. This would seem to exclude people like Kristi Burton Brown. I would like to know how many (if any) children she has taken in, raised, or even loved.
    IMO most (certainly not all) of the most dedicated, religious, anti-abortion and anti-birth control advocates have never once even talked to one of these kids. And the underlying assumption on the part of the pro-life crowd that the babes are “in Gods hands” and “will be taken care of” like it happens by magic really pisses me off. This pro-life, anti-birth control crowd I deal with here in St. Louis really have a bad case of the “Not I My Back Yard” syndrome. They seem to want everyone else to conform to their own narrow vision of morality without doing anything to help alleviate the problems they create.
    Even the foster care/adoption system that is supposed to be a state agency is now subcontracted out to blatantly, overtly, completely religious agency’s that I am lying to about being an atheist in order to keep helping kids. Oh they will never tell you they will turn you down and never really will, but the paper work also never, ever, gets done. But that’s a subject for another rant.
    Thank you for reading this one.

    • niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

      douglaslm, I really appreciated reading about your first-hand experience. I can’t imagine the frustration of your current situation. When the terrible “faith-based initiative” nightmare was signed into law, that kind of thing was exactly what I feared would happen. I am thankful that there are foster parents like yourself out there and I commend you for hanging in there.

  • Tenebras

    George Carlin once said that Pro-Life was Anti-Woman, but it clearly goes beyond that. They aren’t pro-life, they’re not even just anti-woman, they’re anti-human. They don’t give a shit about anything except punishing people for doing things they, in their Bronze-Age inspired morality, don’t like. And they want to use babies, USE FREAKING BABIES, as their punishment device. Babies! Living, breathing, human beings with (eventually) minds and feelings and desires, who will grow up to be a part of our society, and the only thing they care about is using them for their own twisted ends. What in the actual fuck?

    • ashleybell

      Well put… I’d never thought of that angle before! It’s so fucking true though…really. I mean, it’s really almost (if not actually) pornographic.

  • ema

    At the moment that fertilization occurs, a new, unique human being is created and the “egg” is no more.

    Repeat after me: “There’s no such thing as ‘moment of fertilization’…”no such thing as ‘moment of fertilization’”….

    Fertilization takes about 24hrs and results in a bunch of totipotent cells, not an unique Embryo-American.

    • Corvus illustris

      For further gruesome entertainment, try to get the people who need to repeat these sentences to repeat the phrases “monozygotic twin” and “human chimerism.” I’ve tried. Repeat them? They can’t even pronounce them.

  • crowepps

    Here’s your ‘consequences’:

    “A 19-year-old mother has been charged with dumping her 3-week-old daughter along a rural road for 12 hours and lying to police about the baby’s whereabouts, prompting an Amber Alert.

    “Meaker, who also has an 11-month-old daughter, eventually changed her story…”

  • opposablethumbs

    By the time my daughter was 16 we’d already been talking about sex and contraception for years! (in age-appropriate terms, obviously, depending on where she and her little brother were at at the time). When she wanted to talk about it, we discussed the reliability of different methods. She had me keep her company to the GP’s, and wait outside for her while she discussed it with the GP on her own. She picked a reliable method that suited her, she got me to read the instruction leaflet with her to make doubly sure she’d got it right. She’s away at uni now, but she still talks to me about boyfriends from time to time. She knows that if she had a contraception failure the family would be totally supportive.

    Now I’ve started passing on info to her little brother about condom use (and how NOT to keep them in a wallet for ages if you want them to actually work).

    Negotiating one’s teenage years is hard enough at the best of times; what the fuck kind of parent is it that doesn’t want their children to be safe and happy?

    These people make me equal parts despairing and furious.

  • No One

    There are consequences for not loving jesus… see?

  • who cares

    Ask her if she has kids. Then tell her that for every kid she has had she has committed a murder for the simple reason that on average 1/3 to 1/2 of the fertilized eggs never manage to implant or if implanted get aborted by the mother.

  • MarkNS

    I’d be interested to see the correlation between crazy christian beliefs and scrapbooking. My experience suggests it is rather high.

    • ashleybell

      If the scrapbook has any pictures by Thomas Kincaid, it correlates at 100%!

      •;u=41736 Angelika Huter

        He who tells his own affairs will hardly keep secret those of others. – Italian Proverb

  • gwen

    I lost my mother at 12. Not to death, but to lack of ability to control of her fertility. There were 4 of us, we were nearly teens and fairly self sufficient when we moved to an area where birth control was non existent.My mom became pregnant, first with one, then with twins and she fell apart. My dad liked large families but my mom started drinking and I lost my mom at a time when I really needed her, but at least I had a mom for 12 years…my younger siblings never had a functioning mother. Many of them are alcoholics now. I firmly believe in free access to birth control, up to and including abortion so ALL children will be wanted and loved. No one should be force to bear an unwanted child…sometimes the parents put their feelings aside and learn to love the child, but sometimes they don’t, and the results are tragic.

  • Quine

    Facts are sooo disrespectful. [/sarcasm]

  • michaelbrew

    So this lady doesn’t get that the whole point of responsibility is to avoid unwanted consequences. Intentionally making it more difficult for oneself or others to avoid those unwanted consequences would seem to define irresponsibility and managing to avoiding those consequences while making it more difficult on oneself and others to do so is certainly not some kind of virtue. Then again, this is someone who probably views “faith” as a virtue.

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  • fractalheretic

    It’s clear that her motivations are not in the child’s best interest. Her real concern is about punishing teenagers for having sex, even if the only punishment she can legally administer is forced parenthood.

    Even if I accepted her premise that premarital sex is sinful, I would maintain that her argument is self-defeating. If those teens are in fact irresponsible degenerates, as she describes them, then they are the last people who ought to be given the responsibility of parenting.

  • mildlymagnificent

    The thing that really gets my goat on this is the problem of “making a mistake”. Surely adolescence is the time for little and bigger mistakes – which teenagers can learn from. Learning not to trust certain people or situations, learning that you really should keep up with your contraceptive pills and use condoms each and every time. These are lessons that young people can learn without the lifelong burden of lost education or raising a child on minimum wage.

    She’s also a xtian. Has she never heard of regret, repentance and redemption and never making a particular mistake again? Those three Rs don’t require a child to drive home a message. Her attitude makes no sense even if you adhere to fairly ordinary xtian approaches.

  • Luna_the_cat

    So, if it is brought to her attention that between 60-80% of fertilised eggs — that is, those “new, unique human being[s]“, as she puts it — either never implant, or are spontaneously aborted even in healthy 22-year-olds who are trying to get pregnant…how will she deal with that? Deny its reality? Say “God has a plan”? Are we placing bets?

  • peterfran

    Hey Mr. Fox:
    You can stop the redundant cycling of the abstinence crowd by relating how ‘sex’, directly translated from Judeo-Christian script, doesn’t mean gender or sexual-acts, but sex producing offspring. Not referring to lovemaking. And when the abstinence proponents inevitably rally contraceptive usage as an unnatural sex-act; you carefully chat how with contraceptives being used then, hopefully, there is no sex taking place, merely lovemaking.
    Unfortunately biblical text doesn’t mention abortion. And the Pro-lifers have taken great liberties by calling it murder; homicidal. When abortions, on the whole, are mercy killings where a woman doesn’t feel capable to carry or raise a child, and terminates as an act of compassion. Yet this, as we know, goes right over the Pro-lifers’ heads.
    So it’s best to agree with them that fetuses shouldn’t be aborted for other than health reasons. Then, while everyone’s on the same page, you expound how this is exactly why it’s imperative to provide early termination, before quickening, preferably by the sixth week. When the umbilical and embryo have not yet differentiated, making the biological mass nonhuman: a miss-carriage instead of feticide.
    Good Luck

  • bradleybetts

    3 things:

    1- “Kristi Burton Brown is a pro-life activist in her home state of Colorado, a pro-bono attorney for Life Legal Defense Fund, an allied attorney for Alliance Defense Fund, and a stay-at-home mom.”

    How can you be all those things and a stay at home mum? surely they are mutually exclusive? I wasn’t aware lawyers could work from home.

    2- “But to encourage a lack of responsibility and accountability for one’s actions–by eliminating the consequences (pregnancy) rather than the cause (sex)–is what we are opposed to.”

    Dear fictitious Lord, finally! I’ve always said this is what the “Pro-life” movement was all about but I’ve never come across a pro-lifer stupid enough to admit it.Maybe they’ll all stop hiding behind their “Foetuses are people” bullshit and come right out as the misogynistic, anti-sex, “slut”-shaming movement they really are?

    3- “Actually, there is no such thing as a “fertilized egg,” scientifically speaking. At the moment that fertilization occurs, a new, unique human being is created and the “egg” is no more.”

    No, “scientifically speaking” a new zygote is created. There is nothing scientific about talking out of your arse.

    Also, Hank, totally with you on the “every child wanted, every child loved” thing. Personally, I do not want a baby right now and do not want one until I am mature enough and financially secure enough to raise one with the quality of life I am determined for my children to have. As such, if an accident were to occur right now and I were to get someone pregnant, I’d prefer it to be aborted. Obviously it’s more her decision than mine, but that would be my preference. It’s amazing the amount of vitriol I get from pro-life types when I explain this (IMO) rather sensible opinion.

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