Candidates and Contraception

by on November 19th, 2010
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George Stephanopoulos’s ability to moderate a Republican debate has been called into question by bloggers, Op-Ed writers, and commenters all over the internet. One of the biggest complaints people have about his performance Saturday night in New Hamphshire is that he asked Romney where he stood on banning birth control. Many people feel it was unnecessary and unimportant.

Mitt Romney was asked in Sioux City, Iowa if he would ban hormonal birth control. As he did in New Hampshire, he made light of the question, saying it was ridiculous, that nobody wants to ban it. Apparently, he never read the statement on the “Yes on 26″ website concerning hormonal birth control. “Yes on 26″ is a group that campaigned for the Personhood Amendment on ballots in Mississippi. They are against any methods of birth control which “act to prevent implantation of the newly formed human into the lining of the womb”. Furthermore, Rick Santorum said in a 2006 interview with ABC that the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds with Griswold vs. Connecticut, calling its members “activists” and saying they should not be “creating rights”. He also said that states should have the right to ban birth control.

Romney, Santorum, Paul, and Gringrich have all signed a “Personhood Pledge”. Romney believes , as do the other candidates and millions of people in our nation, that life begins at conception. He said he is against anything that would prevent a fertilized egg from implanting and being born. According to him, hormonal birth control prevents fertilization and would not be touched. This assertion, however, is an incorrect one. In the rare event that hormonal contraception fails to prevent ovulation from occurring or a sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg, it prevents implantation.

According to the Guttmacher Institute’s June, 2010 report, 93% of women in the U.S. use contraceptives. Not all women who use contraceptives are using them to prevent pregnancy. The same report shows that 31% of American women who use contraceptives are not at risk for pregnancy, and some of them have never had sexual intercourse. Some reasons for using birth control (other than to prevent unintended pregnancies) are to reduce pain, regulate menstruation, reduce migraines associated with menstruation, and treatment of endometriosis. For many women, hormonal birth control is key to functioning normally while they are menstruating. A Personhood Amendment to any state constitution has serious potential for making hormonal birth control illegal.

Although it failed, 346,699 people voted yes on the Personhood Amendment in Mississippi. Tens of thousands of people signed petitions to get 26 on the ballot there, and tens of thousands more are working tirelessly to get it on ballots in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Montana. Although it failed once in Florida, petitioners are working to get it back on the ballot in 2014, and Personhood USA is trying to get it back on the ballot for the third time in Colorado. “Personhood” has been divisive within the pro-life community because of the issue of hormonal birth control. Obviously, this issue is extremely important to a lot of people, and should not be dismissed so quickly.

The candidates owe it to their pro-life constituents to be honest about where they stand on this issue. This is also a golden opportunity for the GOP to win over some of the women’s groups who have been terribly disappointed by Obama when it comes to issues important to 50.8% of the population in the United States.

George Stephanopoulos asked exactly the right question.

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