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Inside Bush’s War on Birth Control

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Posted on Mar 26, 2009

By Marie Cocco

    For those whose nostalgia for the Bush administration is unfulfilled by former Vice President Dick Cheney’s snarling television appearance, there is a new window into the soul of the old regime. It is the brutally frank account of how political operatives and ideological helpmates of George W. Bush violated the law in their efforts to keep birth control away from American women—particularly teenagers at the greatest risk of an unplanned and life-altering pregnancy.

    The broad outlines of the case against Bush’s Food and Drug Administration for trying to block the approval of over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill, or Plan B, are widely known. For more than five years, the loyal Bushies at the agency blocked action by subverting science, overruling medical professionals and abandoning FDA standards that have long governed how drugs are switched from prescription-only to over-the-counter availability.

    It was done, of course, at the behest of anti-abortion zealots who consider many commonly used birth control methods as equivalent to terminating a pregnancy. When the FDA finally approved over-the-counter sales in 2006, it restricted them to women 18 and older and tried to impede the pill’s use by insisting that pharmacies keep the drug out of plain view. 

    U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman, ruling in a lawsuit brought by the drug’s sponsors and others, now has ordered the FDA to reconsider the age and availability restrictions on the morning-after pill.

    His decision is a chilling compendium of accounts by doctors and other FDA professionals who were routinely overruled by the president’s political henchmen. Sandra Kweder, a veteran of the agency’s office that dealt with new drugs, testified of being told by superiors that the Bush White House was behind decision-making on the morning-after pill, and “it was made very clear that there were a lot of constituents who would be very unhappy with ... an over-the-counter Plan B and ... [there was] part of the public that needed to have the message that we were taking adolescents and reproductive issues seriously.”

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    But taking these issues seriously would have meant acknowledging that those most likely to benefit from quick availability of birth control after unprotected sex are, in fact, teenagers. In 2004, the court decision says, Curtis Rosebraugh of the FDA’s over-the-counter drug team not only recommended approval, but “he suggested that Plan B could decrease unwanted teen pregnancy by up to 70 percent and reduce teen abortions.”

    The court’s decision is tragically relevant. The teen birth rate has increased for the past two years—after 14 consecutive years of decline.

    Was the FDA’s ideological war on birth control a cause? No one can know. What we know is that it certainly did not help a distraught teenager. 

    Nor did the pernicious spread of federally financed abstinence-only sex education programs during the Bush era. Every sound study of these programs has shown them to have failed at preventing teen sexual activity. Some have indicated that when kids who’ve been through abstinence-only programs do begin to have sex, they are less likely to use birth control. Even Bristol Palin says that telling teens to be abstinent “is not realistic at all.”

    The Obama administration’s FDA is expected to conduct the new review of the morning-after pill that the court ordered. Anti-birth-control advocates are out, scientists are in. There’s little doubt that the drug’s safety and effectiveness—the only considerations that were supposed to be taken into account in the first place—will hold sway.

    Yet White House plans on abstinence-only education programs remain foggy. Its budget blueprint calls for financing “evidence-based” sex education that provides “medically accurate and age-appropriate information” to youths. This is the political code we’ve been forced to start using for giving teenagers the facts about pregnancy and birth control. But the president has also vowed to fund “faith-based efforts” to reduce teen pregnancy.

    It takes a leap of faith, indeed, to see how these two objectives can be reconciled without sacrificing science—and the lives of girls and women who should be able to depend on it.

    Marie Cocco’s e-mail address is mariecocco(at)washpost.com.

© 2009, Washington Post Writers Group


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By sophie, March 31, 2009 at 12:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

from Cyrena:
“Why does MISS MARIE, (my emphasis), believe that a blueprint that calls for ‘evidence based’ sex education that provides ‘medically accurate and age-appropriate information’ to youths CANNOT be accomplished with an ADDITIONAL assistance of so-called ‘faith based efforts’?”

What amazingly skewed thinking. Because it flat out is NOT the business of the religious right which has overseen the so called ‘faith based initiative’ program to put the best interests of human beings (particularly women), as being central to their core agenda.  The majority of religious organizations do not want women to be autonomous—women and their bodies are reproductive vessels.

I fail to see how Muslim women are somehow more in possession of their reproductive rights than American women, regardless of their “faith” or lack thereof.  Muslim women are under a very similar patriarchal thumb of religious tyranny—different holy book, different ideology, different god.  But the same fascistic control over women’s bodies! 
How nice that birth control is now deemed in vogue, perhaps now Muslim women will be able to pursue formerly male dominated professions as well.

Have you actually been paying attention during the past eight (and now nine) years?  Bush’s faith based initiatives have cut funding and promoted religious (Christian) ideology in lieu of medically sound criteria. It has been a well funded,  well fought battle by the Christian right. Guess what—it worked, it has been a very productive eight years for the religious fascists in this country, (and other countries as well.)
Planned Parenthood is one of the few organizations who have reported on every single decision Obama has made regarding reproductive rights. At the moment, it is a mixed “report card.”

Now that it is obvious that Obama will not completely rescind some of the most damaging legislation implemented by Bush—re controlling the reproductive lives of women, we now have a fairly good idea of what will happen: Obama is content to continue the pandering to the religious right and thinks he can fly the faith agenda under the radar. (Oh gee, I guess the majority of women won’t even notice?)
The HHS “new rule,” gifted to women by Bush before he left office is still being reckoned with. This is absolutely the perfect example of the insanity of attempting to join faith and science ( and curtail the medical rights of the patient to know the majority of his or her treatment options).  Government intrusion of a patient’s right to know, based on religious (faith based) dogma, summarily completes the evisceration of what should be a personal decision between the physician and the patient.  Obviously, religious beliefs and medical science should not intermingle.  Ms. Cocco has stated the truth, and I have always found her articles to be lucid, factual and well written.

Religious ideology exists to maintain male dominance, and to thwart the attempts for real autonomy of women—in any culture. To believe otherwise is seriously delusional.

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By artie, March 29, 2009 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Encouraged and urged-on by politicians and organized religions,mankind(?) is breeding itself into oblivion, which no amount of greening, conservation, etc can combat

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By Jim Yell, March 29, 2009 at 7:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Of course the right wing doesn’t want you to control your fertility and it has nothing to do with respect for life. It is about power, oppression and creating the poverty so necessary to validate dictatorship.

The church wants poverty, ignorance and a huge uncritical population to be manipulated and fleeced and that is the same thing corporations want too.

It is the pressure of huge, hungry populations that make the case for the death of democracy and the certitude that it will all end badly with the 4 horseman of the apocolpse hovering over all.

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By godistwaddle, March 28, 2009 at 8:54 am Link to this comment

Republicans want more births because they lead, eventually, to cheaper labor costs.

What thinking fetus would not cry out, now, to be aborted rather than be birthed into this right-wing hell, or into Darfur?

What decent woman does NOT abort that poor fetus?

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By samosamo, March 27, 2009 at 8:53 pm Link to this comment

You know, it just seems to me to be just another one of w’s perverted ideologies put into practice and it isn’t just here in the U.S.A., it was all over the world by denying aid, funding, trade and any of the other presents and trinkets that w’s administration dangled in front of those countries and the states here in america or snatching is away if there was no adherence to what w believes this world needs. And as usual w is plain wrong and criminal by denying what would help others be it here or other countries.
From what I have read and researched, more and more humans are not going to help the planet, it will hasten the loss of habitat, eco-systems, natural resources(such as clean water and air)putting people in a bind to live. And packing the planet will just help divert attention from those most pressing of issues that need attention and action so it will be easier for the ‘elite’ to control everything while the huge loss of life that regular disasters(tornados, earthquakes, etc) will keep the ‘elite’ behind the curtains for the disaster capitalism(a part of milton buttfuck friedman’s ‘unfettered market’ economics)that will be used to squeeze more and more people into smaller and smaller areas for control or use when necessary. An advanced form of ‘animal husbandry’ that could only come from a twisted mind like w’s or milton buttfuck friedman.
A woman’s body is her own and it is her decision to do what she feels is right. And an egg is a point where she can make a decision of yes or no, and it is her decision and not anybody else’s. To think about it, I couldn’t think of too many things being more revolting than w making those decisions(excuse me while I go puke).

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By Purple Girl, March 27, 2009 at 6:15 am Link to this comment

Repugs love Big Gov’t- they try to interfer with every person choice and freedom they can. What is more ‘Big Brotherish’ then legislating reproductive decisions?
There are two TRUE underlying doctrines and agendas at work here. For the Corp whore Repugs, their goal is to assure a commodity is heavy on th esupply side to assure lowest price possible- Human labor.
As for the Zealots- they want to assure that the ‘Messiah’ doesnn’t end up in a biologicals container. Apparently the ‘almighty’ is not powerful enough to assure this particular birth- God Requires mere mortals to make it happen. Seems God’s getting a lil’ feable in his ‘old Age’.Realistically froma religious Standpoint, Who would require such intervention by man- the Creator of Heaven and Earth, or that which has no such Ominpotence? considering their disregard for Life after birth (once they’ve decided it’s not their ‘savior’) one can only surmize they ar emerely sifting through to find the One- the rest are useless. And how do they think they will KNOW when the One is born- a Star in the heavens- better be paying attention to astronomy- Or merely looking for the 666 insignia- far easier to stop giving a shit after it is not found.
What proves their lack of desire to actually end abortion is their refusal to try to stem unwanted pregancies. Is it really a Sadistic desire to see people and children suffer. If the ‘Messiah’ is born, do they wan tto assure the backstory is ‘humble’ enough- so providing healthcare and assistance to poor children would negate that goal?A Far worse offender in both realms are assholes like Huckabee, who proclaim the Right to ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness’ for a parasitic life form above and beyond the Rights of the Female Carrying and ‘hosting’ it. hell of a patriot and Christian- Woman are mere recepticles, Not to be afforded citizens rights or even Human rights. How about we assure no unwanted pregnacies (thus abortions) through the age old practice in animal Husbandry- Castration.If the Gov’t has control over my uterus, then it also has control over mens testicles too.If I can be forced to give birth- then men can be forced to get their nuts cut off- Wanna play ball scarecrow?Ya know it’s good luck to throw testicles over the roof of a barn- same could be true for a house too
Either way- Corp Whores wanting to assure cheap energy source to power their profit making ventures or those who have no faith in an Almighty Being- their goal appears to be to assure suffering on the part of Humanity, en mass.No doubt what God had in mind, ah?

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By Marisacat, March 27, 2009 at 4:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yet White House plans on abstinence-only education programs remain foggy. Its budget blueprint calls for financing “evidence-based” sex education that provides “medically accurate and age-appropriate information” to youths.

This is the political code we’ve been forced to start using for giving teenagers the facts about pregnancy and birth control.

But the president has also vowed to fund “faith-based efforts” to reduce teen pregnancy.

Yes and why is that do you suppose?  Further, the DEMOCRATIC congress has seen fit to continue to fund “abstinence” education. Twice, that I recall…  Why is that do you suppose?

Why, a few months ago, did congress cut federal funding for Birth Control subsidies… ??? The Democratic congress.  Did NOW tell me?  No.  Did NARAL tell me?  No.

I had to find it out by reading uber Cattolica fuckingKathrynJeanLopez of the The Corner, as she chortled with glee that congress was cutting funding for an arch enemy of hers.

Why do you suppose that was?

Further, why was there such a hide and seek for funds for birth control (to override the Medicaid waivers to allow funding of BC in the states) first in the Stumble bill - apparenently jsut for the R to find and scream over.. then promised to be in the budget.. then out, then in…

Why is it a fucking GAME?

I will tell you.  Bush was the DECIDER and Obama is a PRESIDER.  It is a pulpiteering position.

Further, Bush set up PEPFAR to be funded and live for 5 years after his departure.  I douobt much has really changed in Africa…. despite headlines that told of the reversal of the so called Global Gag Rule.

Presider.

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By cyrena, March 27, 2009 at 12:20 am Link to this comment

Big B writes:

“…And we say the muslims are backward troglodytes stuck in the 11th century.”
Thanks Big B. You hit it right on the head.
And, there’s an irony here as well, in reference to Miss Marie’s windup on this article. She can’t ever write anything without some criticism of the Obama Admin, so she winds up with this…

“Yet White House plans on abstinence-only education programs remain foggy. Its budget blueprint calls for financing “evidence-based” sex education that provides “medically accurate and age-appropriate information” to youths. This is the political code we’ve been forced to start using for giving teenagers the facts about pregnancy and birth control. But the president has also vowed to fund “faith-based efforts” to reduce teen pregnancy.

  It takes a leap of faith, indeed, to see how these two objectives can be reconciled without sacrificing science—and the lives of girls and women who should be able to depend on it.”

~*~

Why does Miss Marie believe that a blueprint that calls for ‘evidence based’ sex education that provides ‘medically accurate and age-appropriate information’ to youths CANNOT be accomplished with an ADDITIONAL assistance of so-called ‘faith based efforts’?

Well, in part because she’s of the either or mentality, (no surprise there, which is why I stopped reading Cocco’s stuff over a year ago). But, it’s ignorance as well. Ironically, it has been through the faith based community that the subject of birth control has been introduced into the Muslim world.

In short, it has been the Iman and other religious leaders that have used the Qur’an to preach on the importance of not having any more children than one can afford to take care of, and because these recommendations are coming from the religious leaders in Muslim Communities, the population accepts them from the religious leaders, when they probably wouldn’t from anyone else.

But of course Miss Marie thinks that such issues can ONLY be either science or faith. Never both, which is of course the same narrow-minded thinking that has lead us down this terrible road to begin with.

Yes, the Muslims are way ahead of us.

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By Inherit The Wind, March 26, 2009 at 11:26 am Link to this comment

The more teen girls get pregnant the less women get to go to college and move up into the business and government world still dominated by us men.

Let’s not forget our Trog anthem:
“Keep ‘em barefoot and pregnant!”

And it’s working—check out the Governor’s Mansion in Alaska!

I’m not amazed there are maniacs like Bush and Cheney walking around.  I AM amazed they got to the White House…TWICE!

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By Big B, March 26, 2009 at 10:56 am Link to this comment

Has it become abundantly clear by now to everyone that the right wing wackos war to abolish abortion is just a first step in the religious right’s master plan to re enslave women? They still think that if we remove women from the workplace, all of societies evils will instantly disappear. The first step is of course, to take away reproductive freedom.

And we say the muslims are backward troglodytes stuck in the 11th century.

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By purplewolf, March 26, 2009 at 8:49 am Link to this comment

A good book to read is ” The W Effect: Sexual Politics in the Bush Years and Beyond”, editor Laura Flanders.Also referred to as Bush’s war on women. It tells of some of the underhanded policies Bush pushed through during his first term to undermine birth control, family planning and abortion, not only in America, but world wide. He has always thought that women are not mentally smart enough to make that decision for themselves as to whether to have a child/children, and that only those who rule should decide for them. After all, he is the Decider, don’t you know. And you have to keep that cannon fodder coming to renew his armies as he has with your children go out and fight his illegal wars to conquer the world, so he could be ruler of the world, or so he thought at the time.

Yep! Keep those babies coming, keep sending the jobs out of the country, reduce social services and keep the people dumb and desperate, the only option they will have left is to join the military. Just as Bush planned. BTW why did Laura Bush only have 1 pregnancy?

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By Rodger Lemonde, March 26, 2009 at 6:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Their reasoning was rather clear, they need all the bastards they can get.

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