Monday, March 5, 2012

Contraceptives -

I don't like responding to the likes of Rush Limbaugh or to his emulators in the current Republican primaries nor do I want to involve myself in the reaction based on gender politics that characterizess Limbaugh's views and those of his party as an attack on women and women's health by men. In fact the vast majority of men support the use of contraceptives and measures that would make them more freely available.A substantial portion of contraceptives used in America are purchased by men for use by men to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases as well as to prevent unwanted pregnancies which condemn many women and their children to poverty. And I certainly don't support those who condemn Limbaugh's extreme statements and name-calling  while hypocritically agreeing with his views on financing contraceptives.

The United States and its religious denominations have always considered sex as a tool of the devil rather than a normal mammalian function. Until the 1960's, it was virtually illegal to educate people about the human sexuality. Distributing contraceptive devices or educating people about their use was a criminal offence.(The exception was the armed forces where soldiers received free condoms and instructions for their use - funny, isn't it - when the military gets free contraceptives no one complains about the cost.The reason: because soldier's lives are considered important and so it doesn't matter when the pope says life begins, or how much the program costs soldiers get their sex subsidized by taxpayers). In the century before the 1960's, Comstock Laws were passed throughout North America banning any activity that focused on human sexuality. Like Prohibition, sex was forced into the dark recesses of society often controlled by a criminal subculture. Ignorance and guilt promoted the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and sex crimes. At one point there was a section in the Criminal Code that described the offence of  "having carnal knowledge of a woman having deceived her as to the nature and quality of the act." The Limbaughs of their day assumed that women were so ignorant of sex that they could be exploited by sexually sophisticated men. Before the "sexual revolution" of the 1960's churches were able to build an industry based on the fear, guilt and ignorance that they propagated around the sexual function.  Girls who became pregnant were taken out of school and placed in "homes for unwed mothers" generally run by churches - teenage girls who were sexually active could be declared "incorrigible" by their parents and  placed in reform school -Willingdon School for Girls was the one in British Columbia. It was finally closed in the 70's. In some jurisdictions, women could be committed to mental hospitals if they were diagnosed as "hysterical" a word from the same root as hysterectomy and referring to mental health problems of uterine origin.

The sexual revolution was produced by the birth control pill. It opened opportunities for women to schedule pregnancies so that they could pursue education and career objectives that weren't open to them before. It allowed men and women to enjoy normal sexual lives free of the fear that an "accident" would result in a career destroying pregnancy and an unplanned, unwanted child.The last step in the sexual revolution was to make contraceptives available to all regardless of income but unfortunately the sexual counter-revolution has set in. Its leaders in the christian extreme right, the republican party and the pharmaceutical industry have set themselves up as moral bean-counters. "we can't afford to provide free contraceptives, they say, it will bankrupt the health care industry" Of course pharmaceuticals are among the most over-priced agents in health care insulated from competition by patent protection and by laws against price negotiations passed by politicians paid off by industry lobbyists. The assertion that we can't afford to finance contraceptives as part of our health care program is false, hypocritical and immoral. Any industry that can afford to buy the US Congress can afford to subsidize the distribution of contraceptives

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