Pass me my chastity belt

Remember the good old days of chastity belts, having an anxiety attack every day that your period was late and back-alley abortions? Conservatives in this country sure do, and they’re just aching to bring them

Remember the good old days of chastity belts, having an anxiety attack every day that your period was late and back-alley abortions? Conservatives in this country sure do, and they’re just aching to bring them all back.
Recently there’s been uproar about selling the emergency contraceptive pill or “morning after” pill in pharmacies. Some conservative and Christian pharmacists say it goes against their moral and ethical standards to distribute emergency contraceptive pills because many associate the drug with abortion.
So some right-wingers, including President Bush, have been touting a riddled-with-mistakes “abstinence only” plan.
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, (D-Ill.), recently told pharmacies in the state that they are required to fill prescriptions for the morning-after pill, regardless of their personal beliefs.
This is part of a growing trend of state legislation addressing whether or not pharmacists are obligated to distribute emergency contraceptive pills or if they can refuse for moral reasons.
Paul Caprio, president of a conservative group named Family PAC, is defending the pharmacies that want to be able to refuse selling emergency contraception.
“Pharmacists are coming forward saying that they want to exercise their rights of conscience,” Caprio said in the The New York Times. According to the article, Caprio is urging pharmacists to ignore Blagojevich’s rule.
There have always been pharmacists who refused to distribute birth control pills for religious reasons, and there is more of a fight over emergency contraception because it is linked with abortion.
According to the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, however, there is a big difference between the morning-after pill – the pill the controversy is over – and RU-486.
The morning-after pill is a concentrated dose of birth control pills that prevents a pregnancy after sex, while RU-486 terminates pregnancy.
The irony of the right-wing backlash to emergency contraceptive pills is that these pills decrease unwanted children and the need for abortion.
If women do not have access to these pills immediately after sex, they may want or need RU-486 or an actual abortion later down the road.
The New York Times article points out that this is not so much a battle over the morals of pharmacists as it is a battle over women’s access to proper contraception. People in the medical field have a duty to help people, and denying women this pill is to deny their duty.
Another way to avoid unwanted pregnancy is to properly inform people about contraception and preventing sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. And that means not teaching that abstinence is the only way to prevent pregnancy and STDs.
Not only is abstinence-only education leaving teenagers ignorant about sex, but according to Planned Parenthood and NARAL, some of the information taught in these classes is just blatantly wrong.
Rep. Harry Waxman, (D-Calif.), compiled a report on the state of abstinence-only programs taught across the nation. Waxman found glaring errors that would be hilarious if they weren’t being taught to teenagers.
One program, “WAIT Training” says that HIV can be transmitted through tears and sweat. If this were true can you imagine the rates of HIV among wrestlers or people in group therapy?
In truth, HIV can only be contracted from an infected person by exchanging blood, breast milk, semen or vaginal secretions, having unprotected sex, through birth or pregnancy, sharing needles or receiving a blood transfusion.
NARAL has some quotes from abstinence-only programs on their Web site. My personal favorite is from a video entitled “No Second Chance.” It says to our high school students: “What if I want to have sex before I get married? … Well, I guess you’ll just have to be prepared to die. And you’ll probably take with you your spouse and one or more of your children with you.”
These are the programs our tax money is spent on. The Bush administration requested $273 million for the 2005 fiscal year in abstinence-only education.
First, teenagers are misinformed about sex. Then, when they find out the truth the hard way, they are denied access to methods to prevent pregnancies.
State governors need to follow the lead of Blagojevich and the Bush administration needs to listen to the legions of medical experts who report that abstinence-only education does more harm than good.
We have a duty to protect the women in this country.
Carolyn Steeves can be reached at

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.