As I’ve written about in the past, much of the religious right’s opposition to abortion and birth control isn’t about Save The Innocent Babies as Punish The Slutty Women. They don’t hate Planned Parenthood because of abortion, they hate it because planning parenthood, having a choice, offends them. In the words of game-show host Chuck Woolery, reproductive rights means the “right not to reproduce.” Which is perfectly true — but he thinks people having that choice is a bad thing.
Family planning is important to men, not just women. A lot of men are happy to have sex without worrying about fathering a child. However the forced-birth movement prefers to focus on women. And many married women choose not to have kids or to stop after having one, two or whatever. The forced-birth movement focuses on the idea that abortion and birth control are used by slutty nymphomaniacs to have slutty sex; in the words of white supremacist former Rep. Steve King, Planned Parenthood is “invested in promiscuity.” Having the ACA mandate health insurance cover birth control is bad because sluts are having sex and your premiums pay for it. To paraphrase HL Mencken, anti-abortion rhetoric is pornography for Puritans.
(I’ll note here that up until 20 years ago, Protestants did not believe birth control caused abortions. However claiming it is, and that this is long-standing established belief, made it easier for Protestant and Catholic forced-birthers to join forces)>
Abstinence-only education does jack shit to reduce teenage sexual activity, pregnancy, abortions, STDs, etc. but right-wingers will fight to the death opposing alternatives that work. It’s virtue signaling at its worst, sending a message that they don’t think women should have sex before marriage; that it doesn’t stop them is irrelevant. The alternative would be contemplating that their daughters might come to the marriage bed not virgins and that flies in the face of what Christian purity culture says is acceptable. Of course guys are supposed to stay chaste too, but as Christian feminist Samantha Field has observed (I don’t have the link handy), “fallen men” is not a thing the way fallen women are. A guy who comes to his wedding night less than a chaste virgin isn’t going to be slut-shamed. To evangelicals that’s completely different.
Of course it’s also about money. Funding for abstinence ed channels millions in government dollars to religious conservatives. They may talk about how they want limited government and free handouts but not when it’s their mouth at the spigot.
Thus Jonathan Mitchell, who helped design the Texas sue-abortion-providers law, suggests banning abortion is no big for women because they can just stop having sex. Not “they can use reliable birth control” or “oral sex is 100 percent effective as a contraceptive” — No Sex is his go-to solution. Of course, all three Republican candidates for Michigan’s attorney general oppose the decision that said states couldn’t ban birth control and they’re not alone in wanting it gone. But if women try No Sex as they solution and they’re married, a lot of evangelicals will shame them for not giving their husband his rights; conveniently, a lot of evangelicals also think marital rape should be legal.
I’ve never been a fan of the religious right, but their raving misogyny makes them the fruit of a poisonous tree.
If you’d like more on this topic, Undead Sexist Cliches is live in paperback on Amazon, with the Kindle version listed separately. It’s also available from multiple other ebook retailers.
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