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October 1, 2014

Contraception’s Bang for the Buck

JUNEAU, AK—Opposition to abortion rights has been the political hallmark of Alaska State Senator Fred Dyson (R-Eagle River). He is also, as these ironies invariably go, opposed to expanding contraceptive access.

“By and large, sexual activity is recreation,” the senator intoned today during floor debate on SB49. “The state shouldn’t finance other people’s recreation.”

Does the senator favor elimination of all state parks? What of the Department of Fish & Game—some of which relates to subsistence, but which also serves recreational endeavors? Is he aware that it is public, state-financed roads taking us to our state’s ski resorts, or does he imagine it’s more of a private toll road type of situation?

Alas, the senator’s pronouncements are of course the latest variation on the banal why should I pay for you to have sex talking point, which ignores the obvious, readily demonstrable fact that people have sex regardless of whether or not they have access to contraception. It’s not the having sex part for which we’re paying, cognitively challenged legislators fail to grasp, but for reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies resulting from it.

Dyson hates abortion, but opposes policies that makes it less likely.

Dyson hates abortion, but opposes policies that makes it less likely.

In a state with the dubious distinction of leading the nation in STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea, expanding contraceptive access also isn’t the worst idea from a public health—as well as a fiscal—standpoint. (Referring to the role of contraception in prostitution, “the fee for service easily covers the cost of supplies” calculates the apparently price tag-familiar senator.)

You’d think a sitting legislator would have a passing familiarity with the costs associated with unwanted pregnancies—from the social assistance programs conservatives so despise, to the increased likelihood of incurring court, law enforcement and imprisonment costs. It would be nice if conservative legislators acknowledged that contraceptive access is by far the most cost-effective, fiscally conservative approach to the reality that humans have sex.

Alas, politicians like Dyson and their supporters are of course the first to complain about abortions and welfare babies. Both of which are made less likely by contraception, not by the wishful thinking aka “abstinence” approach that’s been shown to be a gigantic failure from the Bible Belt to Alaska’s most famous household.

When the rubber hits the road: another “abstinence” success story.

There has never been some mythical Golden Age of Abstinence, but we’re supposed to pretend otherwise. Suggesting that young people, for instance, wouldn’t harbor any thoughts of a sexual nature unless and until they received access to contraception and medically sound information is a bit like saying you shouldn’t carry auto insurance, because it’ll just make you want to get into a wreck.

I’m no gynecologist, but I feel reasonably confident that 100% of abortions are performed on women who are pregnant. If you want to make an abortion less likely, make an unwanted pregnancy less likely. And the jury is no longer out regarding what does and does not work in that regard. Anti-abortion social conservatives and fiscal conservatives alike should be the very first to call for the most expanded, readily available family planning access possible.

California’s abortion rate has fallen to its lowest level in decades, for instance, with investigators citing “increased use of birth control and improvements in birth control efficacy for the trend.”

One sees a similar pattern nationwide. “The wider use of contraceptives,” reports The New York Times, “appears to be an important factor in the reported recent decline.” By contrast, “anti-abortion laws had only a minimal impact on the number of women obtaining abortions.” It’s long past time to call out the Fred Dysons of the world, who clearly prefer to keep abortion as a political issue and fundraising tool than in actually reducing the number of abortions.

Here’s the senator in full rhetorical glory:

 

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20 Responses to “Contraception’s Bang for the Buck”
  1. mike from iowa says:

    buy-in. Particularly from groups like CPAC.”

    “When free contraception is being talked about,” Obenshain continued, “please, white men: stay behind, let the women get out there and talk about these issues. We love white men. Okay? We love older white men. It’s great, but–” well, if the movement really wanted to start to resonate, it was time to put women out there and let them talk. It’s not so hard.

    Here is a quote from CPAC womens conference on why women should be conservatives. Kate Pbenshain(never heard of her) is the aythor of “Divider in Chief”(never heard of it). To the women’s credit they did have one Black woman there,I think. I’m rilly glad that these women love love white men,older white men. Makes the whole party easy to identify.

  2. GoBig says:

    Sen. Dyson considers sex to be recreation, and he doesn’t believe state money should be used for recreation. Then why did the state give Mayor Sully a bundle of money to build a tennis court?

    Old man Freddy must be really pissed off that we have state parks and bike trails. Aren’t those used for recreation?

    I’m starting to believe these GOP legislators arrive in Juneau on a short yellow bus. One that originated in crazy town.

  3. mike from iowa says:

    In a couple of months my garden plants will be happily procreating with reckless abandon and telling wingnuts to shove someone’s pistil where the sign don’t shine. Didn’t their lord command them to be multiple and have fruit flies?

      • mike from iowa says:

        What a difference a gripe makes,my friend. Yesterday was cool and cloudy and me growly. Today is sunny and warmer with 50s and 60s on the horizon and I’m in a better mood. Elderly neighbor,Glen,fell in his bathroom and cut his forehead and lip. Thought he was gonna bleed to death. Now he has two super shiners and enough sense of humor to joke about them.Looks similar to a mangy raccoon,meaning his pelt is scant. Fur season is over with around here. Next thing you know,robins and blackbirds will be passing through,hopefully headed North. I’ll gladly send them your way to share the beautyousness of iowa’s spring-like weather.

        • Alaska Pi says:

          So sorry about neighbor Glen! Youch!
          Had to laugh. Here, I am celebrating an end of 2 weeks of sun and return of rain
          Was dang cold and now is above normal and likely to stay for a week.
          Had to go out and poke at garden soil. Frozen solid . 12 hours of rain hasn’t changed that. Darn. :-)
          IF weather folks are correct, I should be able to plant first batches of lettuces and spinach outside under double cover in next 2 weeks.
          Real spring is aways off but using double covers really does work. I can have fresh food to eat on or before the last frost date of May 1 that way. 50s and 60s sounds heavenly- enjoy every minute for those of us in the high 30s , ok?

  4. Zyxomma says:

    Just because no one wants to engage in sexual activity with him doesn’t mean they don’t want to have sex with someone worthwhile. If reducing abortions is the goal (and it’s a worthy goal), one must have the tools to prevent pregnancy. These include (1) comprehensive education about reproduction, and (2) access to contraception.

  5. ugavic says:

    People like this Senator keep Alaska at the top of many lists for all the WRONG statistics. Rape, High STD, DV, etc.

    If the people worried about too much money being spent by the state…do some research on issues like those named above….you will find the HUGE costs, then come talk to the rest of us.

    I hope ER have more sense the next time they go to the polls, but maybe they need to keep learning the lessons of ‘costs’ before they figure it out.

    So sad for so many!

  6. mike from iowa says:

    So Dyson is obsessed with sex. Let’s connect a few dots. Dyson makes vacuum cleaners. Their main selling point is a ball for said vacuum cleaner. Ball is another term for sex. Therefore,Dyson is obsessed with sex,plus he sucks as a human being.Therefore,in a past life Dyson was a vacuum cleaner. Today,he neither vacuums or has sex,therefore he is a sad,little wingnut with nothing better to do than make someone elses life miserable as he is.

  7. mike says:

    Many Reasons Not to Vote for Any Republicans:

    The regressive Republican Party of No is obstructionist, mean-spirited, thuggish, religiously fanatical, scientifically ignorant, corrupt, hypocritical, xenophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, evolution and global warming denying, oily, anti-environment, anti-health, anti-consumer, anti-birth control, anti-choice, anti-education, anti-99%, union busting, Medicare mashing and Social Security slashing, fiscally irresponsible, misleading, authoritarian, selfish, greedy, out-of-touch, lacking compassion, warmongering, and otherwise dangerous.

    NEVER vote for Republicans.

    Feel free to send this to anyone.

  8. fishingmamma says:

    That old fossil and his ridiculous ideas need to be excused from the room. I got tired of that dusty argument when those self-righteous bullies were proclaiming it back in the 70’s. I decided then and there that they were nothing but a bunch of angry people that did not really enjoy sex because they never really figured out how to do it right….

    So let’s add sex to the long list of Things We Will Not Allow Poor People To Do. Because they are poor, and have not earned the right to be fully human.

    Say…where do you think he did his ‘research’ on how working girls cover the cost of “supplies”?

  9. Lisa says:

    Honestly, as soon as people in this country stop treating men who aren’t whores like freaks and women who choose polite sexual relationship as whores, we will be on our way to a better place. the double standards kills, mostly women.

    I will comment on suburban and small towns. It’s not a promiscuous thing. Few are actually easy. It’s the mentality of family over everything else. Every single person I personally know who had a baby before age 21 acts high and mighty to haters and says “people are just jealous because im doing everything in life you’re doing AND I have this precious baby with me, a baby YOURE choosing to put off waiting on “perfect” circumstances (that don’t in actuality exist.”

    It’s true. Young families so EVERYTHING others do. they still travel, they attend school, they work…

    The judgment and ignorance needs to stop. There is NO difference between teen mothers and 35 yr old mothers. NO ONE births a baby knowing what they’re doing. We all think we’re screwing up daily.

    THAT is the fun. Never know what to expect.

  10. Alaska Pi says:

    I am so very, very tired of this gobbeldygook.
    Waving one’s lil hands and declaring “By and large, sexual activity is recreation” makes it so?
    I don’t think so, honey, Senator… whoever you are…and if it truly were, AKM’s example could be expanded many, many times.
    Howz about the fact we all pay the Coast Guard who have responsibility for oversight of recreational boaters amongst their other duties? We even expect them to SAVE stoopid drunk boaters who get themselves in trouble if it isn’t too risky for the CG. What was that again about not paying for OP’s recreation? Eh?

  11. John says:

    Sex is not recreational. “Sexual pleasure is God’s good gift to humanity and is to be the pinnacle of the relationship between a man and his wife.” http://www.tellingthetruth.org/hot-topics/marriage/sex-and-marriage.aspx
    The sexual relationship is the pinnacle. Getting pregnant as a result is not required.

    • Happy Place says:

      Unlike Iran, we’re not a theocracy. We’re allowed to make public health & policy decisions without some book written by a bunch of superstitious guys in Bronze Age Palestine who thought the earth is flat and made up “virgin birth” tales because they were freaked out by the female birth canal.

      • alwaysagardener says:

        Don’t forget banishment to menstrual huts. Women’s reproductive cycles have been “suspect” for a long while.

  12. alwaysagardener says:

    It is simple insanity that birth control should be maligned in this day. I live in a town in Alaska where several young girls in the middle school are pregnant. It is heartbreaking. For a legislator to be so out of touch is nothing less than ignorance on steroids.

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