Five Important Sex Lessons For GOP Lawmakers
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Doruk Sikman
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This week, Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) sparked considerable controversy when he suggested that offering insurance coverage for birth control is rooted in the assumption that women need the government to help them control their sex drives. Huckabee is hardly the first lawmaker to make an illogical comment about reproductive health that seems to belie the way that women’s reproductive systems actually work. Gaffes of this nature have become a serious problem for the GOP party, particularly as it attempts to attract more female voters.
Republicans have held some training sessions to help teach lawmakers how to better talk to women, but the issue may have deeper roots than a lack of PR savvy. Some lawmakers simply need to go back to health class. Here are five important lessons about reproductive health that GOP politicians should commit to memory:
1. Birth control pills aren’t directly correlated to how much sex a woman is having.
Republican lawmakers often refer to birth control as if it has a direct relationship with sex — as in, the women who have sex more frequently need to take pills more frequently, and the woman who aren’t having a lot of sex don’t need to worry as much about paying for birth control. Rush Limbaugh is a big proponent of this assumption about reproductive health. “She’s having so much sex, she can’t afford her birth control,” the conservative radio host said in reference to Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who was maligned for testifying in favor of Obamacare’s birth control coverage.
In fact, women who rely on oral contraceptives need to take a pill once every day, regardless of the frequency of their sexual activity. There’s no extra charge for the women who have more sex — they’re just, quite literally, getting more bang for their buck.
The type of pill that Limbaugh is referencing could eventually become a reality, however. Researchers may be getting closer to developing an oral contraceptive that women could take before each instance of sexual intercourse. The medically accurate term is “pericoital birth control,” although Cosmopolitan favors “ edible condoms.” Ironically, this method would actually make the most sense for the women who are having sex fairly infrequently.
2. Over half of the women who use birth control need it for medical reasons.
Republicans typically make comments about birth control coverage solely in the context of the government paying for women’s sex lives. Obviously, many sexually active women are using the pill to prevent pregnancy. But there are also several unrelated medical reasons that a woman may need oral contraceptives. Sandra Fluke is another good example to illustrate this. Her testimony in favor of birth control wasn’t about how much sex she was having; it was actually about a lesbian friend who uses the pill to treat ovarian cysts.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 58 percent of women on the pill are using it at least partly for medical reasons. Some of those women are also using the pill for pregnancy prevention, but about 1.5 million American women need birth control solely for medical reasons.
The reasons for needing the pill can range from regulating painful menstrual cycles, to preventing cramps, to controlling acne, to treating endometriosis.
3. There’s a difference between preventing fertilization (ie, contraception) and ending a pregnancy (ie, abortion).
Particularly in the context of the controversy over Obamacare’s birth control provision, conservatives frequently conflate birth control with abortion. Dozens of legal challengesagainst the health reform law are based on the scientifically inaccurate claim that Plan B, or the “morning after pill,” is a type of abortion-inducing drug. But that’s not what’s actually going on inside a woman’s body.