What is more troubling than this oddly timed debate about birth control is the vehemence with which I have seen women needing to justify or explain why they take birth control—health reasons, to regulate periods, you know, as if there’s anything wrong with taking birth control simply because you want to have sex without that sex resulting in pregnancy. In certain circles, birth control is being framed as whore medicine so we are now dealing with a bizarre new morality where a woman cannot simply say, in one way or another, “I’m on the pill because I like dick.”
Traditionally, support for birth control was bipartisan. The Roman Catholic hierarchy was opposed, but Republican presidents like Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush provided strong support. Then family planning became tarnished by overzealous and coercive programs in China and India, and contraception became entangled in America’s abortion wars. Many well-meaning religious conservatives turned against it, and funding lagged. The result was, paradoxically, more abortions. When contraception is unavailable, the likely consequence is not less sex, but more pregnancy.
Contraception already prevents 112 million abortions a year, by U.N. estimates. The United Nations Population Fund is a bête noire for conservatives, but its promotion of contraception means that it may have reduced abortions more than any organization in the world.
Sometimes I think Nicholas Kristof is the only smart person left.