Watching the testimony on religious liberty yesterday in the House Oversight Committee (I especially appreciated the testimony of my Synod’s President), and following Planned Parenthood’s Twitter feed at the same time, I have some questions.  I don’t need anecdotes or uninformed opinions–so keep them.   The only thing that I want to see is hard evidence one way or the other.

  • What percentage of women use some form of contraception primarily for reasons other than preventing pregnancy?  And what forms of birth control are they?
  • How much, on average, does the Pill cost with and without insurance?
  • How many insurance plans currently do not include coverage for the Pill?  How many include coverage for other forms of contraception?  What forms?  Update: Here are the Guttmacher (research arm of PP, let it be said) numbers for insurance claims (as well as a distilled version of the below CDC report).
  • How many people–actually–would the HHS Mandate affect?  In other words, how necessary does the Administration really think this is?  Update: Here’s a link to the CDC report that is often being cited or alluded to without attribution, which gives many of the statistics.  According to Table 15, only around 3% stopped using contraception because of the cost, around 2% stopped because insurance did not cover it, and around 2% because it was too difficult to obtain.  Also, notice that under Table 1ff., “contraception” includes NFP and other non-medicinal methods, and I think that’s been missed by the media citing a “99% of women and 98% of Roman Catholics use contraception” figure.  Further, if I read Table 4 correctly, the number of women using contraception currently is around 62%, while the other numbers are for those who have ever used any form of contraception.  That 62% is even itself misleading when nearly 25% of that is male or female sterilization.  So the media numbers appear to me to be highly misleading.


  • Who let Planned Parenthood and NARAL define contraception as “basic preventive health care”?
  • And what ever happened to self-control?  (That might take a dissertation.)

That’s probably a good start.  Even if the answers are unobjectionable, you might want to read this before you take contraception.  Further, none of this addresses the deeper point of religious freedom: even if most non-Roman Catholics do not find contraception to be a problem, do we really think that the intrusion into the fundamental religious beliefs of the largest church body in the country will end with them?  Do we really think that contraception is the issue here, or that the government will not continue its massive growth and its interference with what churches and religious organizations do and how they do it?  (By the way, I’ve got a couple nice bridges on the plains to sell, if anyone’s looking.)  But I would like these questions answered, so we can machete the undergrowth enough to see the trees.

One thing that should be mentioned is the difference in how PP and its ilk define “abortion” from how sane people do.  I saw more than once that the “morning after” pill does not induce abortions.  I assume that PP says that because the fertilized egg has not yet attached to the uterine wall.  But those who understand that once an egg is fertilized, a separate, unique human being has been formed, to which nothing will be added throughout the next nine months (the time in the womb will only develop what is already there), it is irrelevant whether or not that fertilized egg attaches: if a person does something (like take the morning after pill or other contraception) which can cause the lining of the uterus to thicken with the purpose of preventing pregnancy, a human life has been taken.  If that contraception had not been taken, the fertilized egg would (all else being equal) attach to the uterus and the baby would develop normally.  On this point, as on so many others, PP is simply being deceptive in its definitions.

But they are clear about one thing:

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) adopted recommendations for women’s preventive health care issued by the Institute of Medicine. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, drawing on these recommendations, requires new private health plans written on or after August 1, 2012 to cover contraceptive counseling and services and all FDA-approved methods without out-of-pocket costs to patients. However, existing plans are exempt from the requirement so long as no significant negative changes, such as cutting benefits or raising cost-sharing, are made to them; DHHS has said that most of these plans will likely lose this protected status within a few years. The agency has also proposed an exemption for some religious employers, similar to the exemption included in several state laws.

Additionally, federal law requires insurance coverage of contraceptives for federal employees and their dependents; it includes a limited but seldom used exception for religious insurers. In December 2000, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission made it clear that an employer’s failure to provide coverage of contraception, when it covers other prescription drugs and preventive care, is a violation of protections against sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; those protections for employees’ benefits include no exemption for religious employers.

Can anyone point me to the facts on those questions [obviously, I’ve found some of them]?  Without the answers, numbers and generalizations and “personal stories” are just being thrown around trying to sway the uninformed.


Words, Words, Words

Do you ever get the feeling that people think they can use words however they want?  I fully understand the plasticity of words: they change; languages are not static, etc.  But in order for meanings of words to shift, they have to actually mean something in the first place.  Otherwise, it’s not a shift, but a bare, neological assertion, and who’s to say that one meaning should be privileged over another?

Take this, for example.

Can we have the term “pro-life” back, if everyone else is just going to misuse it?

I’m pro-life because I value all human life. I value the lives of every person living in my country. I value the lives of children living in poverty, and victims of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the Third World. I value the lives of criminals on death row, homeless living in the streets, and soldiers serving our country abroad.

I also value the nascent human life of the unborn.

In this case, it’s not an assertion that “pro-life” means nothing, but that it means everything.  The author’s title is “I’m pro-life and I support Planned Parenthood.”  Which apparently is supposed to follow from his claims about contraception.  He seems to believe, along with many (most?) Americans that Planned Parenthood [sic] is basically a “women’s health” organization that mostly educates and distributes contraception to poor women who couldn’t otherwise get such “basic health care.”  Sure, it does a few abortions, but that’s a necessary evil, considering all the “good” they do.  (It would take hours to detail how wrong that is.  But if you’re interested, you might visit here.)  Even if he did buy this line of reasoning–that contraception and sex ed. are unqualified goods, and that PP does everyone a service by providing them–he could still support contraception and even sex ed., and still not support Planned Parenthood.  But PP has done a great job of convincing nearly everyone that it alone can make sure that every woman has a “right to choose.”  Only PP can give out contraception.  Only PP can educate your children (if I ever hear that PP is involved in “educating” my children, my house will be turned into a home-school so fast…).  Why, then, does PP support no restriction–not a single one–on abortion?  You want to make abortion rare?  The last organization that would have an interest in doing that would be one that makes millions of dollars from abortion.  And, whose abortion numbers have increased by over 67,000 in the last five years.  And, who does 340 abortions for every one adoption referral.  Yeah, I’m sure they want to see those numbers go way, way down.

But back to the Salon piece.  Sorry, but if you put “nascent” in front of “human life of the unborn,” I automatically do not trust you.  There is nothing “nascent” about unborn human life.  It is fully human life, and there is simply no disagreement on this point.  It never was, is not, and never will be anything but human life.  It’s legal to kill it, and you can pretend that it doesn’t matter because it’s small, or because it’s still inside the mother’s womb, but don’t be an idiot.

So why aren’t I trying to defund Planned Parenthood, calling abortion doctors “murderers,” and petitioning the federal government to overturn Roe vs. Wade?

For that matter, why haven’t I emptied my bank account – and demanded that the government do the same – to send meals and vaccines to every person on the planet? Why don’t I spring for motel rooms for every homeless person I meet, unlock the cells in every prison, and demand our country surrender every war?

These would be ridiculous actions because they completely miss the point. They substitute ideologies for solutions, and favor short-term irrational emotion rather than long-term pragmatic decisions.

Sound familiar?

Huh?  All you have to do is apply these “arguments” to Nazi Germany, and you’ll see how stupid they are.  I can’t even count the non sequiturs in that excerpt.  There may be some pro-lifers who want all or nothing: illegal to have an abortion, or nothing at all.  I’ve never personally met any.  I am fully in favor of abolishing human abortion but that doesn’t mean that I’m not for “long-term pragmatic decisions.”  I want waiting periods; I want declarations that extend human rights to babies from conception; I want full information given to women considering abortion; I want sonograms.  What are those?  “Short-term irrational emotion”?  Hardly.  But if you can consider abortion with open eyes and you never have a little “short-term irrational [or rational] emotion,” you are not pro-life, you are a heartless ba…well, let’s just leave it there.

But how, again, does homelessness = prisoners = war = abortion?  Besides, that’s not the problem at all.  It is not the case that no one cares for or helps or gives to put an end to homelessness, hunger, crime, and war.  But there are those who think that abortion is not only not a problem, but a good–and a necessary one at that.  When was the last time you saw Planned Parenthood fighting for more homelessness, more hunger, more crime, more war?  Ah, but they do and will fight–tooth, claw, and legislative action–for more abortion.  Planned Parenthood will happily use Mr. Saveland’s piece to promote themselves; but they do not want fewer abortions, and they certainly do not want abortion numbers to plummet. They would go out of business.

That seems like a very pragmatic solution to the evil of abortion.  But Saveland doesn’t want to defund Planned Parenthood because he’s bought their ideology.  This is a very common problem, as illustrated by the Komen fiasco: those who support Planned Parenthood are not driven by ideology or politics, but those who oppose them are ideological zealots and political wing-nuts.  That could be true only if all you’ve done is listen to Cecile Richards, and never actually looked at Planned Parenthood’s website and their policies.

He closes with a one-liner he was clearly longing to use:

If the only thing that matters is righteous ideology without concern for results, then we want the term “pro-life” back. You’re using it wrong.

I’m not particularly interested in defending the term, but, if it means anything, “pro-life” must mean not supporting Planned Parenthood.  If there’s any group with “a righteous ideology without concern for results,” it’s Planned Parenthood.  Their zealotry on behalf of the unlimited abortion license knows no bounds.  And if you try to convince me that supporting Planned Parenthood and not wanting to end abortion on demand makes you pro-life, I simply cannot believe you.  If you think abortion in the United States is simply a “problem” to be “lessened,” you are ignorant of the facts, or you simply don’t want to face what legal abortion has meant for my generation–both in terms of lives taken and the moral, emotional, physical, and psychological toll it has taken on so many mothers and fathers.

I simply do not want Planned Parenthood’s foxes guarding the hen-house of “women’s health care.”  Call it what you want, but if that’s using “pro-life” “wrong,” I don’t want to be right.


Wow, You Got Me There

I got this message through Facebook, presumably after seeing a comment I made on the Susan G. Komen FB page:

Why be pro-life? I mean, do you know what hyperemesis gravidarum, pre-eclampsia, and ectopic pregnancies are? Do you know how physically hellish pregnancy can be for a woman? Do you know all of the different ways that pregnancy can cause mental and emotional distress to a woman? Do you know how emotionally scarring it can be to give a child up for adoption? Or do you just not care about any of that, which proves that your views on this issue are incredibly hateful?

Pregnancy is hell.  Obviously, that necessitates organizations such as Planned Parenthood.  Why not just kill the little buggers before they take nine months of your life and rip it to shreds with their demonic, parasitic little lives.  I mean, do you know what pregnancy is like for women?  Clearly, if I were a woman, I would take abortion over pregnancy in an instant, without a second thought.  We use drugs and surgery to get rid of pregnancy; hence, it’s a disease to be cured.

This is what I wrote in response:

Well, I have four children, so I have been with my wife through four pregnancies. Do you know about the depression, suicidal thoughts, hate, despair, mental, emotional, and physical problems that abortion causes? Or do you just not care about any of that?  [And] You might want to check this site.

I should add that the vast majority of abortions are done for reasons of elective convenience, not for danger to the woman’s health. Let’s talk about what generally happens, not some marginal extremes.

I suppose we could take a sort of macabre comfort in the fact that people such as this woman are unlikely to pass these lovely sentiments down to their daughters, since they wouldn’t want to go through such a hellish, emotionally and mentally distressful time such as pregnancy.  But that’s just me being hateful.


Does Planned Parenthood Do More Good Than Harm?

That seems to be the argument by seemingly otherwise pro-life people when discussions such as this come up.  It is irrelevant to me what the rabid abortion lobby thinks about this, since they are apparently unaware of any sort of rational discourse on the subject of abortion.  (E.g., simply scroll through some of the ad hominems and absolutely ridiculous claims by PP supporters on the Susan G. Komen Facebook page–click “Everyone (Most Recent)” at the top right of the Wall–my favorite is that “Planned Parenthood doesn’t preform [sic] abortions”).

The important question is how people who are against abortion can think that Planned Parenthood is not all about abortion?  Do they do some things that are not abortion-related?  Sure.  But who is naive enough to think that money that goes to an organization, even if those specific dollars are not used for abortion, does not allow that organization to do the thing for which it primarily exists: abortions and pro-abortion propaganda?  Say I have some money in an account that I use for microbrew, and I am spending the money in that account only on microbrew; if I run short in my microbrew fund, I might use some money from my book fund instead.  Well, if the federal government decides to subsidize my book fund, but not my microbrew fund, then if I stop using book money for microbrew, then technically I can say that I have not spent any federal money on microbrew.  Now stay with me, this might get complicated: if people give me money and they say use it for either books or microbrew, but the federal government is already subsidizing my book fund, then I can use all of that money on microbrew.  It hardly matters that I haven’t spent earmarked book money on microbrew: I still have more microbrew money.  Really, it’s not that hard to figure out.  So when Susan G. Komen decides not to give money to Planned Parenthood (which, for the fiftieth time, does NOT do mammograms), sure, they can say that the money does not go to abortions, but all that means is that more of their other money can.

Think I’m exaggerating Planned Parenthood’s emphasis on abortion?  Take a look at their webpage.  All you really have to do is plug in “abortion” for the euphemism “reproductive rights” and I think you’ll get a sense of it.  PP is not in favor of a single restriction on abortion.  Not one.  Not parental notification, not a waiting period, not full information, nothing.

Nevertheless, maybe you’re convinced that while abortion is wrong, Planned Parenthood does a lot of good in low-income areas.  Maybe you think they’re primarily there to provide “health care.”  Why, then, are African-Americans and other minorities the ones who have the highest abortion rates?  Why are there more abortions than births among African-Americans in New York City?  How many of those were done by Planned Parenthood affiliates?  I would like at least a few people to verifiably point out a single low-income area in the United States where Planned Parenthood is the only provider of basic women’s health care.

I don’t really care if Planned Parenthood has ever done some good for some people.  That sort of argument is like saying that Hitler was pro-family (which he was, as long as you were “Aryan”–not to be confused with “Arians”).  And maybe the similarities don’t end there.

You can decide for yourself if PP’s good outweighs its bad, but you actually have to examine the evidence, not just accept their talking-points and hysterics.  And you should watch this movie.