Last January, after the Women’s March, MSNBC host Joy Reid briefly discussed birth control with Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life. Reid began by stating that everyone agreed that contraception should be legal, but Hawkins broke in.
“I believe certain forms can be legal, yes,” Hawkins agreed, adding, “I don’t believe abortion causing contraception should be legal.”
“What kind of contraception are you talking about?” Reid asked, with Hawkins replying, “Hormonal contraception.”
When pressed by Reid, Hawkins stated that both IUDs and the pill should be illegal, as they “kill children.” Hawkins was, of course, referring to the misconception that hormonal contraception causes fertilized eggs to be flushed out of a woman’s body (in practice, hormonal contraception works to prevent ovulation). But while an Alternet article headlined the conversation “Anti-Choice Advocate Admits to Joy Reid Her Ultimate Goal Is to Make Birth Control Illegal,” this is not quite correct.
Many abortion opponents believe, like Hawkins, that hormonal birth control is “abortifacient” and should be outlawed. This does not mean, however, that they have a problem with all forms of birth control. For example, when I got married a decade ago, my mother wrote me a letter informing me which birth control methods I should or should not use. Hormonal birth control caused abortions, she said but that condoms, diaphragms, and spermicide did not, and were therefore acceptable.What do condoms, diaphragms, and spermicide have in common that IUDs, implants, and the pill do not? They require some measure of cooperation from a woman’s partner. The same is true of natural family planning, which abortion opponents tend to also view as an acceptable form of birth control. The very methods of birth control women have most control over—i.e. the ones they can access even without the cooperation of their partner—are the ones this framework places out of reach.
I’ve been puzzling over this recently, wondering whether it is a complete coincidence that abortion opponents happen to oppose those birth control methods over which women have the most, or whether patriarchal ideas about male authority or headship play a role in where they draw the line on acceptable forms of birth control. I’m honestly not sure. On the one hand it seems suspicious, but on the other hand I can see why one might draw a line between hormonal birth control and barrier methods (however wrong their science is).
What do you think? Is this a coincidence, or something more?
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