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Sex without fear

“Consequence” is one of those words that has taken on a connotation of the negative, even though the denotation does not require it. Strictly speaking, a consequence is an effect, an outcome, a result. That’s all. Consequences are the reasons we do things– if our actions had no outcomes, there would be no point in performing them. Everything we do, we do for the consequences.

The consequences of Colorado recently making some forms of birth control, IUDs and implants, free or nearly free to low-income women through the Colorado Family Planning Initiative have been very good indeed:

The teen abortion rate dropped by 35 percent from 2009 to 2012 in counties served by the program, according to the state’s estimates. Young women served by the family planning clinics also accounted for about three-fourths of the overall decline in Colorado’s teen birth rate during the same time period. And the infant caseload for Colorado WIC, a nutrition program for low-income women and their babies, fell by 23 percent from 2008 to 2013. “This initiative has saved Colorado millions of dollars,” Governor John Hickenlooper said in a statement. “But more importantly, it has helped thousands of young Colorado women continue their education, pursue their professional goals and postpone pregnancy until they are ready to start a family.”

If you’re taking issue with my use of the words “free or nearly free” right now…stop. Yes, I know full well that “provided by the government” does not mean “free.” Nothing is free. However, please read that first statement by Governor Hickenlooper– providing birth control to low-income women has saved the state money. Quite a lot of money, to the surprise of absolutely nobody. Nobody, that is, who is familiar with the notion that when women can’t afford babies, they often can’t afford abortions either, and so become stuck with those babies they can’t afford to have. And then who becomes responsible for paying for those babies? The state– which means all of us, via welfare.

So between the cost of contraception, the cost of birth, and the cost of welfare, contraception is chronologically the first cost, which also happens to be the lowest cost, and also prevents the following two costs. That, in a nutshell, is how the state saves money by spending money. Spend a small amount now, save a large amount later. You could call that an “entitlement” if the notion of chronology is tricky for you, but for someone with no such difficulty, it just makes common fiscal sense.

You’d think.

But no, the same people who trumpet fiscal responsibility for the government most reliably are, astonishingly, not in favor of measures like this. That is, of course, because their dedication to ending abortion in America does not lead to the ardent support of contraception that one might logically conclude they should have. And that is, unfortunately, because the goals of ending abortion and encouraging fiscally responsible government are both ultimately supplanted by yet another goal: to prevent “consequence free sex.”

Now, let’s ponder this notion for a moment. “Consequence free”?

Sex using effective contraception such as an IUD (the objectionable form of birth control cited by Hobby Lobby in its Supreme Court case, which Erickson is addressing in the above tweet, and which Colorado made attainable for women on low incomes) is anything but consequence free. The consequences of sex using effective contraception potentially include:

  • Intimacy between partners without fear
  • Pleasure between partners without fear
  • Bonding between partners without fear
  • Enjoyment and creation of memories between partners without fear

The fear in question, of course, taking two possible forms:

  1. Unwanted pregnancy
  2. STDs
So since it’s clear that sexual intercourse using contraception doesn’t prevent consequences, and that there are certain consequences which are in fact the point of having sex using contraception, desirable, good consequences, it appears that actually Erickson’s tweet should have referred not to consequence free sex, but to fear free sex. As in, nobody should be able to have sex without fear of creating an unwanted pregnancy or contracting an STDs. 
Why should nobody be able to have sex without this fear? 

Because they don’t think people—young people, poor people, unmarried people, gay people—should be able to enjoy “consequence-free sex.” Because it’s sex that they hate—it’s sex for pleasure that they hate—and they hate that kind of sex more than they hate abortion, teen moms, and welfare spending combined. Knowing that some people are having sex for pleasure without having their futures disrupted by an unplanned pregnancy or having their health compromised by a sexually transmitted infection or having to run a traumatizing gauntlet of shrieking “sidewalk counselors” to get to an abortion clinic keeps them up at night.

Yeah, I’m inclined to think so.

So hey, conservatives? At least, social conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Erick Erickson? Try just saying what you mean, okay?

You don’t think people– especially women and gays– should be able to have sex without fear. And it’s easier to makes sure poor women and gays can’t have sex without fear, because it’s easier to make sure that poor people don’t do anything that costs money. And contraceptives? They cost money.

Just say it. Sexuality should be controlled, and it’s best controlled by fear, so you want to preserve the fear.

It won’t happen, in the end…but hey, at least you can say you were honest.

I’d like a glue gun, some acrylic paint, and some birth control

A federal judge denied Hobby Lobby’s request for exemption from the federal requirement to provide health care coverage which covers contraception, especially (at least, this is what owner David Green claimed to be his basis for objection) the morning-after pill.

In a 28-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton denied a request by Hobby Lobby to prevent the government from enforcing portions of the health care law mandating insurance coverage for contraceptives the company’s Christian owners consider objectionable. The Oklahoma City-based company and a sister company, Mardel Inc., sued the government in September, claiming the mandate violates the owners’ religious beliefs. The owners contend the morning-after and week-after birth control pills are tantamount to abortion because they can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s womb. They also object to providing coverage for certain kinds of intrauterine devices. At a hearing earlier this month, a government lawyer said the drugs do not cause abortions and that the U.S. has a compelling interest in mandating insurance coverage for them. In his ruling denying Hobby Lobby’s request for an injunction, Heaton said that while churches and other religious organizations have been granted constitutional protection from the birth-control provisions, “Hobby Lobby and Mardel are not religious organizations.”

Well, they might be– they sound pretty darn religious to me. But I’m very glad they don’t get to impose that religion on their female employees by denying them health coverage.

Now to decide whether to end my personal boycott of Hobby Lobby…shopping for all of my craftsy stuff at Michael’s really bites.

Dear Bill O’Reilly…

…no calculator, moral or otherwise, will make it less expensive to arrest people than to help them. Trust me on this. The more you deny it, the more ridiculous you are:

Is traditional America gone for good? That’s the question Bill O’Reilly tackled during his Talking Points Memo on Monday night. Criticizing “secular progressives,” O’Reilly called for the right kind of politician who will help us confront the “reality of our situation.” Traditional America can come back, O’Reilly said, with the right person to make it happen.
Specifically, he pointed to Mitt Romney‘s electoral loss among blacks, women and Latinos. “It was an entitlement election,” he said. The media would have you believing the election confirmed election ideology. While that’s not true, he said, secularism is “eroding traditional power.” “On paper, the stats look hopeless for traditional Americans,” O’Reilly said. “But they can be reversed. However, it will take a very special politician to do that. By the way, Mitt Romney didn’t even try to marginalize secularism. He basically ignored it.” Secular progressives don’t have the right approach, he argued, because they don’t want judgment on personal behavior. For examples, O’Reilly pointed to the issues of out-of-wedlock births, abortion and entitlements. Secular progressives “don’t want limitations on so-called private behavior,” he said. The majority of Americans can be persuaded, O’Reilly said, “that the far-left is dangerous outfit, bent of destroying traditional America and replacing it with a social free-fire zone that drives dependency and poverty.” We need to confront that, he added. But too many of our politicians are too cowardly to do so.

Refusing to place limitations on so-called private behavior…that’s called freedom, right? Yeah, sounded familiar. Those damn secular progressives and their desire for freedom.

O’Reilly for some reason doesn’t delve into the particular ways in which he’d like to limit private behavior, and how doing so would alleviate poverty and the need for “entitlements” and dependency. Probably because the only way he could suggest that his fans would actually get behind– banning abortion– would actually result in greater poverty and dependency. Not just because outlawing abortion would make criminals of women and their doctors, and criminals have to be identified, located, arrested, prosecuted, and punished, and that all costs money. But because childbirth costs money– a lot of money, far more than an abortion– and raising an unwanted child also costs money:

The women in the Turnaway Study were in comparable economic positions at the time they sought abortions. 45% were on public assistance and two-thirds had household incomes below the federal poverty level. One of the main reasons women cite for wanting to abort is money, and based on the outcomes for the turnaways, it seems they are right. Most of the women who were denied an abortion, 86%, were living with their babies a year later. Only 11% had put them up for adoption. Also a year later, they were far more likely to be on public assistance — 76% of the turnaways were on the dole, as opposed to 44% of those who got abortions. 67% percent of the turnaways were below the poverty line (vs. 56% of the women who got abortions), and only 48% had a full time job (vs. 58% of the women who got abortions). When a woman is denied the abortion she wants, she is statistically more likely to wind up unemployed, on public assistance, and below the poverty line. Another conclusion we could draw is that denying women abortions places more burden on the state because of these new mothers’ increased reliance on public assistance programs.

An abortion is a last ditch effort to prevent what other thing Bill O’Reilly is not fond of? Unwanted pregnancies. Actually, he doesn’t much care about pregnancies being unwanted; he cares about them being out of wedlock, because all babies born out of wedlock are going to be on welfare, and only unmarried women want abortions, because they’re a bunch of young sluts. Right.

The “young slut” argument is why O’Reilly and friends also stand firmly opposed to the single biggest thing in the way of unwanted pregnancies that government can actually do something about, which is of course contraception. Providing education about contraception and making it easier for people to access it would save loads of money and prevent abortions, but O’Reilly doesn’t like that because a) government spending money is wrong, at least if it’s to provide education or financial assistance to people rather than to arrest and prosecute them, and b) doing so would amount to the government implying that it’s okay to have sex without making a baby, and that’s only a message a secular progressive would want to send to the young sluts. The message Bill O’Reilly would send is, of course: Don’t have sex, until you get married. Then have sex, but without contraception, so you can have babies. But if you can’t afford to have babies, don’t come crying to me about abortions or welfare because you’re not getting them.

Let’s remember, nearly every American woman who is sexually active will use contraception at some point in her life. A typical American woman wants only two children. In order to accomplish this while having a normal sex life, she would have to be using contraception for roughly three decades. And 95% of Americans have had premarital sex.

So, Bill….tell me again how you’d propose to keep us out of poverty and independent by curtailing our personal freedoms? Oh, by being “traditional.”

Yeah, I think I’ll stick with being a “secular progressive.”

More letter to the editor fun

All from the Wichita Eagle:

April 7th:

April 10th:

April 12th:

Today:

I’ll be interested to see how long this goes on– also whether any letters will be published from men unhappy about being portrayed as tricking women into using birth control so they can get the milk for free. “They” meaning the men, of course. Women don’t like milk.

You want the blue pill; we’ll pay for it. You want the red pill; Rush Limbaugh owns your sex life.

In Limbaugh Land, consumption of these is
determined not by time but by sluttiness.

I’m a big believer– and try to be a big practioner– of giving people the benefit of the doubt in disagreements. Because it’s a nice thing to do, yes, but also because it’s way too easy to do things like assume the conclusion of a person’s position and then attribute that to them as if it’s what they have in mind and support (“You support legalization of marijuana, I think that legalization of marijuana means that teenagers will get stoned and run over small children at the drive-through,* therefore you must want teenagers running over kids at the drive-through.”) And there’s the additional fact that if you interpret what someone says in the best possible light, they are far less likely to complain that you put words in their mouth. In fact, you might even improve on what they were trying to say.

However….it’s hard to give Rush Limbaugh any benefits for making the following argument:

1. Women who want health insurance to cover birth control are asking to be paid to have sex.
2. Therefore, they are prostitutes, or at least sluts.
3. And if we’re going to pay them to have sex, we should get something out of it.
4. Therefore, they at least owe us video footage. So make with the sex tapes already.

Yes, this is the most charitable possible framing of what Limbaugh said on his radio show regarding the testimony of Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke in Congress on the need for contraception coverage.
First:

LIMBAUGH: What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.

Then:

LIMBAUGH: So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch.

First of all, Fluke wasn’t even talking about herself– she was talking about a lesbian friend who stopped taking hormonal birth control because it was too expensive, and not covered by her university on religious grounds. She was on the birth control to stop ovarian cysts from forming, and after going off the pill a cyst formed that required surgery to remove the entire ovary.

But let’s say Fluke was talking about herself. And let’s say she’s heterosexual, and just wants to have sex with a man or men with a drastically reduced likelihood of getting pregnant. That seems like a good idea, right? That sounds like being careful. Responsible. And regardless of how much sex she has, and how many men she has it with, she’s going to require exactly the same amount of birth control as her lesbian friend (who might be having all kinds of sex herself, but presumably not with men): one packet every month. One pill every day. So the “she’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception” slam is blown out of the water, right there.

What about the claim that having insurance pay for birth control equates to taxpayers being made to pay people like Fluke to have sex? Well, again, people take the pill for a lot of reasons that don’t involve preventing pregnancy…like Fluke’s friend, who (again) could be having any amount of sex with any number of people. So maybe instead of telling women not to have sex if it requires using birth control, Limbaugh should tell them to become lesbians. But she wanted the pill to prevent cysts. Some women take it to control their menstrual cycle. Some women take it to minimize the symptoms of endometriosis. It is a multi-purpose medication, used for a number of very important purposes just like lots of other medication already covered by insurance. Like, you know, Viagra, which I’ve never heard of someone taking because he’s afraid of losing a testicle.

Additionally, of course, there is the fact that paying people to have sex without getting pregnant is cheaper than paying them to get pregnant, carry out the pregnancy, and give birth to a child they didn’t want and can’t care for. Limbaugh considers legal abortion a “holocaust” and women who fight for the right to have abortions “feminazis,” so it sure seems like he should be all in favor of any preventative measures women can take before conception to make sure that it…well, doesn’t happen. Nope. He’s a proponent of Santorum-backer Foster Friess’s method of aspirin-between-the-knees, which it’s hard to believe was funny when the FDA legalized the pill (for menstrual disorders first, note) in 1957. When I’m pretty sure people already knew that it’s possible to have sex with your knees together.

Limbaugh’s argument is fundamentally not financial; it’s moral: birth control is about making it possible for women to have sex without risk of pregnancy, and they shouldn’t want this. If they do, it’s probably because they’re having sex with someone they are not married to and don’t want to marry, which makes them sluts. Message to Limbaugh: most Americans by far either have used or will use birth control to avoid pregnancy. Most Americans by far have had or will have sex outside of marriage. Most Americans by far, I am guessing, do not want to risk creating a pregnancy every time they have sex, whether married or unmarried. Limbaugh himself is almost certainly one of these Americans in all three cases.

So why is he arguing so adamantly against this? Because it offers a chance to make a cheap shot at American women. All Americans benefit by having easy and cheap access to birth control, but Sandra Fluke’s testimony made for an opportunity to say that women who benefit from that access must be sluts.  As Rep. Jackie Speier said today in calling for a boycott of Limbaugh’s sponsors, it’s flat out misogyny:

“Shame on you for calling the women of this country prostitutes,” Speier said. “Ninety-eight percent of the women in this country at some time in their lives used birth control.” “So I say to the women in this country, do something about this,” she continued. “I say to the women of this country, ask Century 21, Quicken Loans, Legal Zoom, and Sleep Number to stop supporting the hate mongering of Rush Limbaugh and if they do not do that, then I ask them to boycott those companies.”

Yes. Yes to this, but I wish she hadn’t appealed specifically to women. It’s an issue that should be of interest to everyone, because it affects everyone, and…everyone should consider Rush Limbaugh a hateful moron for saying crap like this. Charitably, of course.

*The actual plot of a PSA that ran on TV for a while.

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