In a previous thread, in response to Bud suggesting that there’s not as much hyperbolic pandering on the left as on the right, I cited the ridiculous rhetoric about a supposed “war on women,” and such other things as the billboard I’d seen near 5 Points that said, “contraceptives could become contraband.”
Over the weekend, I saw the above, which is evidently part of the same campaign as the other one, and doubled back and got a picture. This one was on 378 between West Columbia and Lexington.
Rather than just fulminate, I thought I’d pose some questions, which the above website helped me do. Under the headline, “OK, I’ve just got to ask,” I sent the following email to the organization:
Who on Earth are these lawmakers who supposedly want to “outlaw birth control?” And could you please cite a bill that would do that?
Even though it was Saturday, I got this quick response:
Thank you for emailing me with your question (and for the photograph).
Every year for the past 15 years, legislation has been introduced in South Carolina that would outlaw birth control. Currently, there are 4 bills that would do that through establishing personhood (aka defining life at conception). The sponsors listed on these bills are Senators Bright, Verdin, Fair, Cromer, S. Martin, Reese, Bryant and Grooms. Currently, the bills in the South Carolina legislature are S. 165: Life Beginning at Conception Act, S. 245: Life Beginning at Conception Act, S. 616: Personhood Act of South Carolina, and H. 3945: Personhood Act of South Carolina (I know it looks like I’m repeating myself, but they are all named similarly).
“Pregnancy” is established when a fertilized egg has been implanted in the wall of a woman’s uterus. Hormonal contraceptives (“The pill” is the most common form of hormonal contraception, but newer options of hormonal contraception include “the patch” and “the ring” – both of which provide a combination of hormones to control ovulation) act before implantation and prevent pregnancy. Nonetheless, a movement emerged in the U.S. during the decade of the 1990s that seeks to outlaw all hormonal contraceptives on the grounds that these forms of birth control may interfere with a woman’s ovulation, may prevent fertilization of a woman’s egg by a sperm, or may prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg in a woman’s uterus. Members of this movement consider any form of hormonal birth control to be the equivalent of an abortion in spite of medical evidence to the contrary. They lobby aggressively in state legislatures, including South Carolina’s General Assembly, and they are behind “personhood” ballot initiatives, most recently in Mississippi.
Any legislator, at any level of government, that supports personhood or defining life beginning at conception rather than implantation supports outlawing hormonal birth control. Similar bills have been introduced and failed to pass in numerous states, including Mississippi (ballot initiative), Virginia, and Oklahoma. All of the current Republican nominees for President have pledged their support for establishing life beginning at conception (Mitt Romney did so during an interview with Mike Huckabee; Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul have all signed the Personhood Pledge).
I have attached our Personhood legislative fact sheet to give you more information about Personhood bills and how they would affect South Carolina. I hope that this answers you questions, but I would be more than happy to speak with you about this further. Please feel free to email me back with any further questions or comments.
Tell Them Program Manager
Imposing further on Ms. Davidson’s patience, I responded thusly:
… you don’t think calling that “outlawing birth control” a bit of a stretch? Because they would outlaw one small subset of what some people would call “birth control?”Do you not think that when most folks say “birth control,” they’re talking about the Pill (and not the “morning after” pill, but the one that’s been around for 50 years), condoms, foam, diaphragms and the like?In any case, for the statement, “Some lawmakers want to outlaw birth control” to be remotely true, they would have to be outlawing all forms of it — not just one relatively small subset of the category. I don’t see how a reasonable person could possibly read it any other way.
Ms. Davidson hasn’t gotten back to me yet. And that’s cool; I very much appreciate the time she took to answer me so thoroughly the first time, especially on a weekend. (When she does respond, I’ll share it here.)
But really — when you’re driving down the road and see the statement “Some lawmakers want to outlaw birth control,” do you read it as meaning “some very specific and limited forms of birth control”? Because I don’t. And that’s what bugged me about the billboard to start with.
Too bad Ms. Davidson’s very specific and informative email won’t fit on a billboard (actually, it would fit, but you couldn’t read it safely). I wouldn’t have a beef with that, because that would be very clear about what it was the organization opposes, and I could make an informed response to it. But as things are, I hope I can be forgiven for believing the group is looking for a kick-in-the-gut, emotional response from the average motorist.
Which brings up the fact that maybe, with such powerfully loaded issues, it would be better to conduct the debate in a manner somewhat more extensive and specific than the billboard/bumper sticker level.