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Why are we still fighting over access to birth control?

Courtesy of the author
A letter written by one of Planned Parenthood’s earliest leaders in Minnesota

I recently came across a letter written by one of Planned Parenthood’s earliest leaders in Minnesota. It said, “We are fast approaching the time when birth control will no longer be considered a controversial subject.” This would be wonderful news, except the letter was from 1933.

Sarah Stoesz

Eighty-five years later – in 2018 – we are somehow still fighting over this fundamental right to health care. Just a few years after the Affordable Care Act guaranteed the right to no-cost birth control, the Trump administration is now threatening to take it away from women. In response, lawmakers in Minnesota introduced the Protect Access to Contraception (PAC) Act, which would protect access to no-cost birth control for 1 million Minnesotans, regardless of what the Trump administration does.

The bill wouldn’t increase our state’s spending or create new requirements for employers or insurance companies. It simply would make sure that Minnesota law protects our access to birth control without out-of-pocket costs, using the same federal requirements we’ve benefited from for the past seven years and which have saved millions of American women millions of dollars every year.

No GOP support

But not one Republican signed on to the bill. They did not hold a single hearing on the bill in either the Minnesota House or Senate. Women should have full access to birth control as a part of their basic health care at no cost, full stop. Study after study shows that birth control benefits women, their families, and our communities. It is an economic issue and an education issue. Birth control is basic health care and should not be a partisan issue. 

Republican leaders in Minnesota have turned their backs on the women of this state and, instead, are focused restricting on access to safe and legal abortion. They’ve introduced extreme bills, including legislation that effectively bans abortion. They also want to require our state to sponsor anti-abortion license plates and send the proceeds to “crisis pregnancy centers” that intentionally mislead women about their health care options.

The Legislature is also considering a bill to require doctors to offer patients the option to view an ultrasound before an abortion. Women already have this right and it is not under threat. This bill puts politics where it doesn’t belong: in the middle of the conversation between a doctor and a patient. That’s why every major medical organization – including the Minnesota Medical Association and the Minnesota arm of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – opposes this legislation.

Women activated; legislative majority disconnected

From the women’s marches to the #MeToo Movement, women and young people are standing up for what they believe in, claiming their voice in our political process like never before. Meanwhile, the current majority in the Minnesota Legislature is disconnected from what Minnesota women and families want and need to thrive.

It’s not 1933 anymore, and lawmakers who ignore the importance of affordable birth control in favor of abortion restrictions do so at their own political risk in November 2018.

Sarah Stoesz is the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.


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Comments (54)

  1. Submitted by cory johnson on 04/23/2018 - 09:35 am.

    Misleading headline…

    It should include the word “free” instead of “access to”.

  2. Submitted by John Webster on 04/23/2018 - 11:02 am.


    Many years ago I was a regular donor to Planned Parenthood when it was focused on sex education and effective means of contraception. PP has done much good over the years in these areas. But PP has evolved into a hyper-partisan, all-purpose left-wing political advocacy group that supports abortion for any reason all the way until the baby is outside the woman’s body. A solid majority of the public supports unrestricted access to abortion in the first trimester; a solid majority opposes non-medically necessary abortion in the second trimester and especially in the third trimester, including 75+% of women.

    That’s not the preferred narrative for PP’s ideological soulmates in the overwhelmingly left-wing news media, so much of the public isn’t aware that most elected Democrats are now as extreme on abortion as are most elected Republicans, albeit on opposite sides of the spectrum.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 04/23/2018 - 12:12 pm.

      Evidence, please

      Given that you describe yourself as someone who does not “rely on lazy stereotypes”, please provide some evidence to back up your rather extreme statement that Planned Parenthood “supports abortion for any reason all the way until the baby is outside the woman’s body.”

  3. Submitted by Rod Kuehn on 04/23/2018 - 11:10 am.

    Let’s address the real issue

    Republicans get away with this because people are too squeamish too address the real issue. This is a religious issue driven by conservative Catholics and Evangelicals. In this state, the power behind the Republican throne is the MCCL.

    LGBTQ, abortion, contraception, sex-ed, HPV vaccine are all verboten because they find sex unacceptable for anyone other than straight, married people who are working to have kids. After all, “It’s in the Book!”

    In a very real sense, the Republican Party could be relabeled the Red Sash Party, after the 1984 Anti-Sex League’s identifying garment.

    And that’s how it will remain until we understand that their doctrinal hegemony is a direct assault on everyone else’s freedom of conscience.

    • Submitted by John Webster on 04/23/2018 - 11:41 am.


      Here is some data that refutes your caricatures of conservative Catholics and Evangelicals, caricatures that you would never make about Muslims. At least 90% of American heterosexual couples were sexually active before marriage; several years ago a survey conducted for the magazine Christianity Today by Gallup found that 80% of self-identified Evangelicals aged 18-29 had partaken in premarital sex. Their doctrinal hegemony is not at all what you believe. Moreover, at least 90% of Catholics approve of birth control, as do Evangelicals.

      P.S. I’m an agnostic, but I’m careful to be informed about people with other beliefs, and not just rely on lazy stereotypes.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/23/2018 - 02:20 pm.

        “[A]t least 90% of Catholics approve of birth control . . .

        Perhaps they do, in private (every Roman Catholic woman I’ve dated has managed to find a way to justify getting a dispensation for birth control pills). In public, I see the Knights of Columbus regularly picketing Planned Parenthood clinics.

        They may not walk the walk, but the talk is what is dominating the current debate.

  4. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 04/23/2018 - 01:44 pm.

    Birth control is never free

    Let me explain. To get a prescription, you have a doctor’s visit (not free) and from that point on you are using something that requires more doctor’s visits to maintain your health and check to make sure it works (all paid for) You also may need to take off time from work and certainly are need to get there and back. Obama wasnted to have a right to access to healthcare, whether it be a NICU for high risk babies, ultrasound, IUD insertions or Viagra , even for guys outside the normal Daddy range.

    The methods conservatives advise are not free or accessible. For virgins who don’t take birth control you have rapists who don’t care whether the women they violate get pregnant or an STD and those who prey on children. The abused children need lifetime psychologists focal help, those with STDs are damaged and those who get pregnant are almost always single parents, as guys who didn’t do the right thing in the first place don’t change. Children marriages – not a great idea, with another baby to be victimized.

    The guy seldom handles birth control, even when he can, and it is men free of cost and responsibility. Then there are the men who claim to be pro life, but want the cost of pregnancy coverage not on their insurance. Wake up little boys, it was your little moment of unrestrained pressure with a single women who left her holdng the bills and the baby bag.

    And another clue to you. Conventional married people should be able to choose to have as few babies as they want when they want them, when they want them, so they can be the best parents possible. Do you think God disagrees with this idea? He is a lot smarter than you or me.

    Judge not that you not be judged. Turn around your pointing figure toward yourself. Men cause the need for birth control. They leave women they don’t love pregnant and inconvenient babies unsupported. If that is you in your current state of maturity please stay away from women unless you know they use birth control. Pay for a adult sex worker who handles the risk and be glad thatb she is fitting you in for money. When you are fit to start to have a family do so, but never criticize people who made better choices already me the way than you. Sex is never “no strings attached.”with people who challenge other’s thinking when they don’t do so themselves.

    You want to take away other’s birth control? Ask the women of your family their experience with having children from sex until birth. It will open your eyes. And have you ever had sex with a women you didn’t have any desire to have a family with because you were in the mood and either she was or you could make it happen. Then force your moralizing on yourself not others.

  5. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/23/2018 - 02:46 pm.

    Just a few days ago, a commentator on Minnpost bemoaned the fact that irresponsible people could have multiple children that they are unable to properly care for and was proposing some means to stop them from doing so.

    These same sorts of conservatives seem to be woefully uninformed on the fact that a bg portion of the answer to their tsk-tsking is free birth-control (an associated education). But hey, to them it seems that that would be a further stretch than legal penalties for unworthy parents…

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/23/2018 - 03:32 pm.


      Free birth control is about the best money the public can spend. It pays for itself. It makes too much sense. Unless you’ve got a worldview based on hypocrisy and contradictions.

  6. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 04/24/2018 - 10:01 am.

    Anything Planned Parenthood is involved with is a non starter for 40% of the country.

  7. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 04/24/2018 - 08:17 pm.

    Seven years later

    With every woman in the U.S having access to free birth control, there are still abortions being performed. Odd.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 04/25/2018 - 11:38 am.


      After seven years of the GOP undermining the ACA, there are people who still believe that everyone in America has access ro free birth control.

      • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 04/26/2018 - 11:00 pm.

        Does Planned Parenthood charge for birth control?

        Even without PP, what are the charges for birth control wherever it is not part of preventative care? Perhaps my point should have included the rather high percentage of unintended pregnancies where no birth control was used at all. Even if free, thousands of people make poor choices.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/25/2018 - 12:58 pm.

      Historical Low

      As Pat notes, there is isn’t much free or easy about birth control in many States. And yet look at the wonderful trend that making birth control cheaper and more available is having.

      And look at how terrible the teen birth rates are in the states that still fight effective and complete sex education.

      As I replied to one of my Conservative readers who is a proponent of “abstinence only education”

      “You are against ensuring children are thoroughly trained and provided with easy access to guard rails…

      Which is equivalent to giving a 15 year old a Corvette to drive with your only words of wisdom to them being leave it in the garage and you will not have an accident.

      And then you stand there with your mouth open wondering why so many kids are having accidents… :-o”

  8. Submitted by Susan Rego on 04/24/2018 - 08:33 pm.

    Speaking up

    Considering given names of commenters, and with the possible exception of our two Pats (it’s…PAT!!) I am surprised the users of prescribed birth control have refrained form commenting.

    Not that the comments have been lacking in substance. Yea for men who “get it.”

    Where are the women’s voices?

  9. Submitted by John Appelen on 04/25/2018 - 09:15 am.

    Now My View

    My posted view on this is pretty strong.

    “Now you know I am a big advocate of making long acting reversible contraception free and readily available, since I see nobody winning when unwanted pregnancies occur. Not the Mother, the Father, the Child and certainly not us tax payers…

    And yet a bunch of the Religious Right folks who are supposedly against abortion continue to fight making this proven prevention equally available for all American citizens no matter their income level. It is about as foolish as if they tried to stop the funding of guard rails along the road in high risk locations.

    I mean could anyone imagine a group of people telling us drivers that guard rails are not needed because drivers should just be more responsible. Or telling us that drivers just need to not drive that road because it may be risky… And yet that is exactly what the Religious Right tells our youngest, poorest, uninformed, most irresponsible, horniest and/or impulsive citizens. (ie group 1)

    I mean middle class, smart, responsible, mature, etc people can easily afford and know to get their birth control and stay on it. (ie group 2)

    And who again do you think is going to to be the better Parent… Group 1 or Group 2?
    And if you truly want to end abortions, the solution is pretty simple:

    •Make sure children get a complete and accurate sex education
    •Make sure people post puberty have easy access to reliable low effort birth control

    Or of course you can support the policies of the Bible Belt States where Teen pregnancy is much worse…

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/25/2018 - 12:38 pm.

      Only Argument

      I disagree only with your equation of class/wealth with responsibility, or non-promiscuity. Many people are poor because of choices that would not necessarily be considered bad or irresponsible (e.g. working only one job to focus on raising one’s children instead of using non-working hours for further education, serving in the military, etc.). A poor, or less well-to-do person, can be smart, responsible, and mature, but still have difficulty affording birth control. They are capable of being good parents, even if their economic resources are limited.

      The better-off are fully capable of being horny or impulsive. I’ve heard about this very wealthy, but awfully skeevy, New York real estate mogul who not only has a hard time keeping his pants on, but he likes to brag about it.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/25/2018 - 01:08 pm.

        Please note I made sure to include “and/or”

        “what the Religious Right tells our youngest, poorest, uninformed, most irresponsible, horniest and/or impulsive citizens”

        – young are well… young / naive.. (he said he LOVED me… :-))
        – poor can not afford protection
        – uniformed just don’t know what they should
        – irresponsible are well… irresponsible
        – horniest and impulsive thinks we will skip the condom just this one time. oops…

        So my comment can apply to all income levels and races.

        Of course if we fully agree… Oh no… 🙂

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/25/2018 - 01:47 pm.

          Duly Noted

          “Of course if we fully agree… Oh no… :-)” Indeed. I wondered if this day would come.

          It doesn’t bother me that the religious right wants to promote abstinence to its flocks. That is something that can be argued on its own terms. My issue is with trying to codify their proclaimed (if not followed) dictates into the law for the rest of society. If the Quiverfull folks want to eschew birth control, that is their right. The rest of us should be allowed to make our own decisions.

          I will also second your endorsement of sex education in schools (see what happens once this gets started? Scary, right?). Access to contraception is meaningless without knowing the why and how.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/26/2018 - 11:51 am.

            As I noted in “Details” below, the question as always is when does a human life begin? When do a conglomeration of cells become a human?

            As I often ask the hard core pro-choicers, if there is a 21 week old preemie in the neo-natal incubator, is it okay if the Mother walks over and smothers it?

            If not, why is it okay for her to have an abortion at that time?

            If so, what criteria should be met before the “mercy killing”?
            If so, should we allow “mercy killing” of old babies?

            Definitely much better to prevent unplanned pregnancies in the first place.

  10. Submitted by John Appelen on 04/25/2018 - 09:28 am.


    Here is another excellent source of information regarding Unplanned Pregnancies and who has them.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/25/2018 - 12:57 pm.

    Centrism the answer to the question.

    The reason we’re still talking/arguing about this? American liberals have failed to establish reproductive control and rights for women, it’s that simple. Planned Parenthood is an essential and indispensable organization but they’ve failed to establish the basic principle that birth control, and abortion, are basic and necessary rights for women.

    Part of the failure is due to an over-all strategy of defense over the decades in stead of an affirmational demand. The entire strategy is one of defending Roe v. Wade instead of asserting women’s rights. This strategy has kept women on the defensive for decades while those who don’t believe in birth control or abortion keep organizing attacks that have steadily chipped women’s reproductive rights for decades.

    Neo-liberal centrism has been devastating for the feminist project, and may well have no put conservatives in a position to end reproductive rights all together. The strategy of meeting “opponents” half way has made access to women’s health services and reproductive control more difficult than it was in the mid 70s. The pro-“choice” narrative was simply too weak to hold the line.

    Women needed (with any luck, still need) unapologetic demands for complete reproductive rights. The narrative needs to center around the fact that the conservative attacks on birth control are an extension of the fact that they consider birth control to be equivalent to abortion. Abortion isn’t simply a woman’s choice, it a basic human right inexorably tied to the right to privacy and religious freedom.

    The attack on women’s reproductive rights that now threatens to convert American women into second class citizens is based on two horrific legal declarations.

    The first declaration holds that there is no right to privacy guaranteed by the US Constitution. The central premise if Roe v. Wade was that the only way the state can ultimately enforce laws that criminalize abortion is to monitor women’s health and medical records. Is a woman pregnant? What happened to the pregnancy? The only way the government can know is to access medical records. Self described “originalists” like Scalia (and Bork) always claimed that the establishment of “privacy” was an act of judicial activism. The same guys who declare a right to have guns (despite the fact that the word “gun” appears nowhere in the Constitution) declare that we have no right to privacy because the word “privacy” appears nowhere in the Constitution. You can laugh but these guys are very close to winning their argument because centrists have refused to block them. It should be easy to win an argument that American women have a right to privacy, and that politicians, cops, and prosecutors shouldn’t be able to sniff around a woman’s medical records, and I think it would an easy argument to win… but someone has to start making THAT argument.

    The second declaration is that fertilized human eggs are people who are entitled to full constitutional protections. This concept basically makes the whole idea of human rights incoherent because it brings women into legal conflict with their own bodies. This notion effectively turns every fertilized egg in the country (should SCOTUS so rule) into ward of the state. The assumption is that women who seek abortions could not be trusted to protect the rights of the unborn, therefore the State, presumably in the form of politicians, police, prosecutors, etc. would have to take responsibility for protecting the rights of the unborn. Obviously such protections require access to medical records (that privacy thing again) and enforcement regimes that could be applied only to women, thus making them second class citizens.

    The only abortion that is immoral is one that is forced upon a woman against her will. There is nothing immoral about a woman deciding to end a pregnancy if she cannot raise a child, may not survive, cannot bring a healthy happy baby into the world, or does not want to endure pregnancy only to give the child away. Those who would force women to have babies they don’t want to have, or turn pregnancy into some kind “consequence” or punishment rather than a joyus celebration of life, are the ones with an moral problem, not women who are making agonizing decisions.

    You may have a religious belief that prohibits abortion or birth control, but you live a free country where you cannot force your religious beliefs, values, or “morality” upon anyone else.

    We cannot meet those who would turn women into second class citizens half way, or in the middle. We have to stop defending women’s rights, and start demanding women’s rights.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/25/2018 - 04:23 pm.

      So Wrong

      “you cannot force your religious beliefs, values, or “morality” upon anyone else”

      Of course we can, Liberals / Conservatives love to try. Our society / government defines murder, suicide, progressive taxation, property rights, welfare programs, etc…

      And as for “brings women into legal conflict with their own bodies”, of course that is incorrect. Roe v Wade decided a long time ago that post viability the fetus has rights. So at that time women are in conflict with their child. Just as with Parents like myself there is an obligation to care for, feed and nurture the kids. I don’t get to just kick the baby out the house with no food or clothing.

      I look forward to many more years of people arguing about when a human becomes a human. Especially as viability gets younger and younger with each medical advance. I for one sure do not know though personally I like ~14 weeks when the brain is developed.

      On the upside, if abortion is ever made illegal again. Hopefully women will get real serious about using highly effective birth control, and our society will make it easy for them to do so. Controlling one’s health and body before conception is best for everyone.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/25/2018 - 05:42 pm.

        Partially Wrong

        Laws are based on morality. When we legislate, or decline to legislate, it should be based on an ethical consideration. That doesn’t mean everyone will agree on the ethical question, nor is that the goal.

        “On the upside, if abortion is ever made illegal again. Hopefully women will get real serious about using highly effective birth control, and our society will make it easy for them to do so.” It’s impossible to be so sanguine about it. Birth control and abortion are tied up together, and I have little doubt that the anti-abortion crowd would come after contraception if they were successful in banning abortion (I note that the MCCL website is silent about contraception). Remember that it was less than a year before Roe v. Wade that the laws against distributing contraceptives to non-married people were stuck down.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/26/2018 - 09:04 am.


          I guess I have rarely heard people push back against condoms, the pill, diaphragms, etc because they all prevent the fertilization of the ovum. The detail is that some of the IUDs, Morning After Pills, etc may force a fertilized ovum to be flushed instead of implanted.

          Not a big deal in my baby is baby at 14 weeks world, but it is huge deal in the baby is baby when egg is fertilized world. (ie Hobby Lobby crowd)

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/26/2018 - 11:10 am.

        More than “partially” wrong.

        “Of course we can, Liberals / Conservatives love to try. Our society / government defines murder, suicide, progressive taxation, property rights, welfare programs, etc…”

        Elsewhere in other comment threads Mr. Appelen has identified himself as a Libertarian, one who supposedly values individual liberty and responsibility above all else. Stepping away from Appelen as an individual and looking at conservatives and libertarians in general I have frequently pointed out the ironic fact that for a bunch of “liberty” guys they have a surprisingly incoherent concept of “liberty” and/or freedom. So I want to thank Mr. Appelen for illustrating my point here by declaring that democracy is all about using the government as mechanism of oppression that makes everyone live according to the values and moralities of those who manage to get into power. I told you this apposition to abortion and birth control was based on horrifying assumptions, and there it is.

        It’s literally impossible for anyone with an incoherent concept of freedom or liberty so produce a legitimate notion of government, so it’s not surprising that libertarians find it sooooo difficult to describe a legitimate government. During the 2016 Libertarian Party presidential debates, those fighting for the nomination literally argued about whether or not requiring drivers licenses was outrageous example of oppression and government “over-reach”. Seriously, I’m not making that up. So drivers licenses are outrageous government over-reach, but making sure every pregnancy in America is carried to full term by use of government force, criminal law, and obliteration of privacy rights… is Okie-dokie small government. This isn’t a comedy sketch, it’s a real thing in America. And it’s terrifying don’t you think? The function of representational democracy is to put sociopaths into a position where they can dictate morality if they manage to win elections?

        No. Liberal democracies establish individual rights and protect individual not only from capricious government oppression, but from the tyranny of the masses as well. I’m not saying we’ve been perfect right out of the box, but the moral arc that MLK talked about is a real thing.

        And no, liberals do NOT want to use the power of government of enforce their personal morality upon every citizen. Liberals invented the idea of personal liberty (a fact you would think “Libertarians” would be aware of.). Liberal democracies are the ones with check and balances, rules of law, bills of rights, and legal recourse. Yes, the conservative and the occasional libertarian may say:” I think abortion is immoral therefore it should be illegal” but the liberal says: “If you don’t believe in abortion… don’t have one”. It’s a clear distinction. We can talk about murder and assault, and theft, but these aren’t REALLY morality concerns; such things are illegal because no one wants to live in a community of murders and theft. Murder may or may not be immoral, but either way we don’t want to be murdered. These are common sense proscriptions in civilized societies, not collective morality. And at rate libertarians and conservative don’t believe in “collectivism” so idea that laws emerge from collective moralities is weird argument for them to make.

        Liberal democracies like ours are based on the principle that laws are not morals, legal systems are not moral systems. Legal systems and laws facilitate commerce, resolve disputes, and classify, clarify, and punish criminal behavior, but they don’t dictate individual morality. Simply put, in liberal democracies government don’t tell people how to live, that’s what makes them “free” societies. This is why the general drift towards more liberal societies has accompanied the collapse of “blue” laws.

        Sure, liberals generally want to protect the environment, and promote individual liberty and equality. But the idea that restaurant owner “forced” to serve everyone regardless of skin color is an outrageous intrusion by government upon property rights, can only make sense in a dystopic fantasy. Forcing a business owner to serve blacks is “oppressive” but forcing a woman to have a baby she doesn’t want is not a problem. Sure. This is why it’s such a bad idea to put people who make such arguments in charge of the government by the way.

        Criminalizing abortion would absolutely bring women into legal conflict with their own bodies Mr. Appelen. Do you not know where wombs are located? Do you not know how where fertilized eggs implant? Have you not heard of umbilical cords? The idea that personhood begins at conception turns every pregnant woman into an involuntary incubator by establishing the government as the guarantor of that persons survival and rights. It’s a legal absurdity that pretends implanted fertilized eggs and women are completely separate entities, and that a pregnant woman has no legal control over her own reproductive organs or process.

        As for Roe v. Wade, I would encourage everyone to go find the decision and read it in its entirety.

        And yes, we could have long ago reduced the number of abortions in American to a fraction of what they’ve been by providing decent sex education, and free access to effective birth control. The problem is those with the dictatorial impulses to enforce their own personal moralities have fought to prevent that kind of policy for decades. They live in a moral swamp where pregnancy is a punishment for sex outside of marriage and women shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy sex without consequences as men can. Whatever. Our new single payer health care that provides birth control will settle that eh?

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/26/2018 - 11:39 am.

          Actually I think of myself as a man with no tribe. The Democratic party is too Liberal and Controlling, the GOP is too Conservative and Controlling, and the true Libertarians are a bit too free spirited for my taste. Remember that I have all kinds of controls in mind for ensuring that all children are raised in a stable home with capable, trained, responsible, emotionally healthy, etc parents… And I also believe we should all have a smart national Photo ID card or implanted chips that could be used to verify our identity, legal status, authorization to vote, authorization to own a gun, organ donor status, etc. So I don’t think the Libertarians are going to support me any more than the Democratic and Republican parties.

          Now we will need to disagree regarding the controlling nature of Liberals. To me SS, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, etc are all forms of government control. I invite anyone to try and stop paying your payroll / income taxes that are used to support these mandatory programs. Now that does not mean that they are “bad” programs, but they are forced insurance, forced charity, etc and reduce the income families to save or spend as they wish.

          As for whether the baby gets nutrition from the umbilical cord, the Mother’s breast or the Mother works to buy formula, The baby’s life is still her responsibility. As I state elsewhere the only question is when does the babiy’s life begin? For now it is “viability”.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/26/2018 - 09:07 pm.

            Babies aren’t the subject here.

            We’re talking about birth control and wombs. The difference between a bottle and an umbilical cord should be obvious and no one who has trouble with that distinction should be deciding when “personhood” begins.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/27/2018 - 10:33 am.

              Keep it simple

              Babies are babies… Food is food…

              And parents are responsible for feeding and nurturing their baby…

              The only question is when the change
              – from organized growing cells
              – to a human baby occurs

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/27/2018 - 11:01 am.

                keeping it simple

                As a general rule it’s not a good idea to let simpletons make important decisions about complex subjects.

  12. Submitted by ian wade on 04/25/2018 - 01:24 pm.

    The GOP should be embracing birth control

    if they truly want to limit the number of abortions. Their obvious contempt for it unmasks the fact that “pro life” just means forced birth. This is all about power over women and the belief that sex outside their narrow “approved” margins should be punished.
    If men could get pregnant, there would be clinics available everywhere, complete with craft beer and giant flat screens tuned to ESPN.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/25/2018 - 04:34 pm.

      More complex

      After a decade of arguing this with Religious Right Conservatives I think it is more complicated. They seem to think that if we give people education and “guard rails” (ie birth control), the folks will become hedonistic porn stars and our society will collapse.

      The point I keep trying to make to them is that we give kids extensive drivers, drug, alcohol, smoking and other education in an effort to keep them from screwing up their lives… And you know what… The kids for the most part are not out racing down the road jumping ditches while passing the bong to each other.

      It is something about human sexuality that just makes these folks freak out !!!

      We can’t can not tell little Janey about the birds, bees and proper protections or she will be on top of every boy… Really… 🙂

  13. Submitted by richard owens on 04/26/2018 - 02:27 pm.

    Constitutionally, it is very simple.

    Freedom demanded must be freedom given.

    Even the conservative idea of “small government”, if it is based on the proposition that “all [wo]men are created equal”, will be clear: You must “butt out” of others’ personal lives, and intimate decisions. You may enjoy your freedom by expecting it and protecting it for all..

    Patriarchy, religious “beliefs” imposed upon others, and any however-well-meaning interference in the lives of others are all unconstitutional in our system of government. Priests cannot overrule the rile of law.

    Those who pursue the goal of controlling reproduction among others should study the history where it was tried. If they know the history and still oppose women’s reproductive rights, they are not “reachable”.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/26/2018 - 04:17 pm.


      Does that mean that Conservatives are free to not fund Planned Parenthood, Medicaid, Insurance plans, etc that fund many of those “intimate” decisions?

      I mean the challenge here is that doctor’s appointments, birth control, “intimate” education, etc all cost money. And if a free person has a child they can not afford to care for, medicaid & welfare transfer a large portion of that cost to tax payers.

      So how does the concept of Rights and Responsibilities fit into your idea?

      If citizens are free to do as they wish and incur negative consequences…

      Shouldn’t they carry the burden of their personal choices and actions?

      Or does it make sense to you that their consequences should be metered out across the rest of the population?

      I am more of a “you break it you buy it” kind guy.
      Not a “you break it, we buy it”…

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/27/2018 - 09:53 am.

        This the part where we whine about paying taxes

        Another chronic feature of dealing with people who have no coherent concept freedom or government is… we’re always explaining how government actually works.

        No nation state in human history has had citizens who personally allocate their own tax dollars as they see fit. Governments allocate expenditures. The difference between our government and the one we declared independence from, is that our government is populated by elected representatives, THAT was the liberal idea our democracy was based on. Legislators allocate spending. The fact that we pay taxes, and that our elected representatives spend those tax dollars, does not make us victims of oppressive government, it makes us citizens. Citizenship grants everyone in liberal democracies basic rights, but it does not let individual citizens allocate their own tax dollars for a variety obvious very good reasons. In practical terms this obviously means that all of us will disagree with the way some of our tax dollars get spent. I pay for your tax cuts, you pay for my Planned Parenthood, and so it goes. And no, the fact that you pay taxes doesn’t buy you the right to dictate religion or values to your fellow citizens. Nor can your tax dollars buy you the right to tell women what they must do with their bodies.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/27/2018 - 03:12 pm.


          Of course we can tell people what they have to do with their bodies.

          We have had the military draft in the past… Late term abortions are illegal in most States… Prostitution is illegal in most places… etc. etc. etc.

          It is just a case, of what “We the People” decide…

          • Submitted by richard owens on 04/28/2018 - 07:13 am.

            You describe an authoritarian society.

            You fail to see it is you who have not accepted the law as it exists today.

            You still want to control others as if you were the draft board, the birth decider, “etc.etc.etc.”

            Who would want to live in such a society?

            You still want to be in charge of others’ most basic human endeavors.

            That in itself is a rejection of the social contract and of the individual rights of your fellow citizens. Whether it is to save you money or to make others’ more to your moral liking, it is coercive and cannot exist within a constitutional framework. Surely you can see that if you simply switch the decider to someone else the behavior you wish to control YOURS.

            Reproductive rights are human rights. They are sacrosanct.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/28/2018 - 06:17 pm.

              Our Society

              I have described our society. The examples I selected are from history and today, not fantasy.

              And it seems there are billions of people who want to live in our society, even with its rules.

              Just think we can not even go pee where ever we want without getting a ticket.

              And we can remove children from their parent(s) care for many reasons.

              The government is us and we have a lot of power.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 04/27/2018 - 09:42 am.


        “You broke it”, but don’t have any $ to buy it, now what? More and younger beggars on the freeway off ramps?

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/27/2018 - 03:08 pm.

          In the case of having too many babies, I think early term abortion or mandatory adoption seem like good choices. Remember that I put the baby’s needs first. If the already dependent mama / papa were not responsible to stay pregnancy free. Why would we let them have the responsibility of raising more than 1 or 2?

          As for beggars, I am happy to fund job training and mental health treatments where improvement results are mandatory. I have no problem with welfare payments as long as people have to continue to improve their capabilies in order to keep getting money.

          As for the truly disabled, we need to care for them.

      • Submitted by richard owens on 04/27/2018 - 10:22 am.

        RE: Individual freedom in relation to our governments.

        To make it clear:. Constitutionally, it IS simple, and your taxes comprise no exception.

        A liberal representative democracy requires an ACCEPTANCE of the Social Contract your argument rejects..

        Here’s a historic, academic presentation to inform citizens of the concept and necessity of the Social Contract:*

        (*Republicans (especially) need to grasp this concept if they are to ever going to be happy in our form of constitutional government. It is in the Social Contract itself where responsibilities of citizenship reside.)

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/27/2018 - 03:01 pm.


          Sorry… That was too long so I skipped to the conclusion… I agreed with the last sentences.

          “Social contract theory is undoubtedly with us for the foreseeable future. But so too are the critiques of such theory, which will continue to compel us to think and rethink the nature of both ourselves and our relations with one another.”

          I personally have no problem fulfilling my obligations to our society and paying my taxes. And I am fine caring for the old and truly disabled from the public purse.

          However I believe that all citizens should be held to the “Social Contract”, which means to me that everyone follows the law, has only the children they can afford and are capable of raising well, everyone strives toward continuous learning for the betterment of our society, etc.

          The question then becomes what should our society do with people who break our social contract?

          Do we keep writing them checks and allow them to continue breaking the contract?

          Or is there a natural consequence that we let them experience?

          • Submitted by Bill Willy on 04/29/2018 - 10:49 pm.

            Only the Truly Needy need apply

            “Public expenditures for family planning services totaled $2.37 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2010.”


            “A new report out today [October, 2017] by Oil Change International reveals that U.S. taxpayers continue to foot the bill for more than $20 billion in fossil fuel subsidies each year.”


            “$257 billion

            “If this figure represented a country’s GDP, it would rank 41st in the world, about the same as Chile.

            “Instead, $257 billion is the profit made in 2014 by public companies involved in extracting, transporting, refining, distributing and trading in fossil fuels in the United States and Canada. Despite these massive profits, the fossil fuel industry continues to receive tens of billions of dollars in subsidies every year at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.”


            While the dollar amounts are interesting, that’s not the point. The point is what you’re always saying about how, if taxpayer dollars are going to be spent on assistance, they should only be spent to help the “old and disabled” . . . The “truly needy.”

            Anyone receiving taxpayer funded family planning services (which includes contraception) needs to meet poverty level-related guidelines while the fossil fuel industry receives $20 billion worth of taxpayer funded government assistance while having a NET income that is $250+ billion ABOVE the poverty line.

            If the fossil fuel industry were viewed as one of the people “on welfare” whose behavior you’re always so concerned about, it would be the rough equivalent of a person receiving somewhere around $20,000 of gov assistance even though they have a net (“take-home”) income of more than $250,000 per year.

            According to what you’re always saying, that would be totally outrageous, in need of immediate ending and tough “corrective action” that might include jail time and, obviously, financial restitution. No ifs ands or buts about it.

            But, for some reason, that’s never an issue for “conservative folks.” You all can go on all day and night about what a scourge and drain on taxpayer dollars all those lazy and irresponsible welfare scam artists are and how their children should be taken from them and how they should be sterilized (or whatever your “parental idiot-proofing” plans consist of) but, for some reason, never an iota of concern or outrage (or plans on how to fix it) when it comes to “private sector entities” receiving MASSIVE amounts of taxpayer funded gov assistance while raking in even MORE massive profits.

            Somehow, to “conservatives,” that kind of thing is always different, necessary and, above all, GOOD for America and its taxpayers which, I’m almost sure, you’ll be able to explain because — no matter how blatant and impossible to defend various “private sector violations” may be — you always do.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/30/2018 - 08:15 am.


              Another commenter once accused me of dropping a red herring into our dialogue. This seems to be one but I will go with it. From your source.

              “U.S. taxpayers continue to foot the bill for more than $20 billion in fossil fuel subsidies each year. The analysis outlines tax incentives, credits, low royalty rates, and other government measures benefiting the oil, gas, and coal sectors.”

              Now I am happy to cut these expenditures / revenue losses also, however please remember they are tiny in comparison to our welfare spend. And we demand something in exchange for the tax breaks / subsidies.

              What changes, learning, improvements, etc do we expect in exchange for the almost a trillion dollars we distribute in welfare each year? Contracts usually have obligations that must be met by all parties involved.

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/29/2018 - 09:30 am.

    Well, “no”.

    “Of course we can tell people what they have to do with their bodies… It is just a case, of what “We the People” decide…..”

    Again, this is simply wrong. “The people” cannot legalize slavery, or rape, or tell people what religion to practice or what Holidays to observe etc. This is why legislation and presidential orders are routinely struck down by the courts. And at any rate, “The people” have decided that abortion and birth control should be legal, and that more easily available birth control is the better. Anti-abortion activists aren’t trying to enforce majority opinions, they’re trying to frustrate them. Again, Mr. Appelen began with the declaration that those who win elections get to tell people how to live their lives. This is a dictatorial impulse that is contrary to the US Constitution and the principles of liberal democracy.

    As for social contracts, again, the idea that people who don’t live their lives the way YOU think people should live their lives are violating”THE” social contract is simply incoherent. The whole idea of a social contract is that it requires community participation and widespread acceptance. People who have babies, collect Social Security or food stamps, live in subsidized housing, or go to public schools, may not be living their lives the way YOU think they should, but they’re not violating any contracts. Safety nets, education, health care, and social programs are an essential components of our social contract, they’re not a violation of it. Poor people aren’t criminals in violation of our social contract, and comparing a pregnant woman to a criminal who needs to be “punished” in some way is a toxic exercise of power devoid of morality.

    This idea that people who pay taxes buy the right to punish and discipline others who don’t live their lives “properly” is perverse privilege pretending to be governance. And yes, that pretty much sums up the Republican attacks on Planned Parenthood.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/29/2018 - 04:48 pm.

      Apparently you seem to believe in Rights without Responsibilities. Freedoms without Sacrifice.

      It seems that your view of the social contract would be that people deserve a “universal income” whether they choose to work hard, learn, invent and help our society thrive… Or if they decide to just hang out in hammock smelling the roses… Or if they choose to violate our country’s laws, that is fine also.

      Sorry… I think our social contracts bind all parties and require that we all need to meet our responsibilities and make sacrifices to ensure we can protect and afford our collective freedoms and rights.

      I don’t believe in “punishing” people when they choose to not fulfill their part of our social contract.

      However I do not support protecting them from their negative consequences by transferring the expense to other citizens who are fulfilling their contractual obligations.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/30/2018 - 09:32 am.

        Still… no

        Human beings have a lot of responsibilities in life, that’s a truism, not a Republican/conservative/libertarian “belief” or principle. There is absolutely NO evidence that libertarians, Republicans, or conservatives have any special talents when it comes to recognizing or fulfilling their responsibilities than anyone else, some would argue quite the contrary.

        What Republicans et al DO have is a penchant for declaring that they get to decide what everyone’s responsibilities are, and who is or isn’t meeting those responsibilities. What we see here is the typical declaration that the poor, injured, old, etc. are “failing” meet their responsibilities. This is always a facile declaration by those who pretend to know who’s lives are more valuable than others, and who is a social or economic “burden” and who isn’t. What can clearly see in almost every instance, is that those who typically try to make such declarations, are the usually the least qualified to do so.

        Other people may not live their lives the way we think people should live their lives, but that doesn’t mean they’re “failing” to be responsible people or citizens, and it doesn’t mean that some people and their lives are more valuable than others, or more deserving of support than others.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 04/30/2018 - 02:54 pm.

          Oh Come Now

          Both tribes love to declared that “the other guy” is not doing or paying their fair share…

          What would be your expectations for being responsible citizen?

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