Psst, anti-choicers! Your real agenda is showing!

What did you do this weekend? Did you attend a rally to protest the Obama administration’s infringement on religious liberty? Probably not. Because even if you did go to Friday’s Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally in Washington, D.C., that’s not what that rally was about.

Yes, I know, it has “religious freedom” in the title, but that’s a front. It’s not about religious freedom; it’s about contraception and the evils it has wrought on our culture. Evils like education and careers for women, bodily autonomy, and sex for pure pleasure.

At Salon, the wonderful Sarah Posner has profiled some of the people behind Friday’s rally, including David Bereit, co-founder of 40 Days for Life. Here’s what Bereit has to say about Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court decision that made contraception legal five decades ago:

Shortly after joining [Stop Planned Parenthood], Bereit blamed the Supreme Court decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, which ruled state bans on contraception unconstitutional, for “a tragic moral breakdown in our culture,” adding, “It is time for Americans to take a long, hard look at the real legacy of the Griswold decision. Although we can’t undo the consequences overnight, we can begin to take back our society one step at a time. The first step is to put an end to the destructive influence of Planned Parenthood, the organization that forced this tragedy upon our nation 40 years ago.”

That’s the Pill he’s talking about, you guys. That tragedy, the birth control pill. And now, he’s couching his fringe opposition to this hugely popular medical advance in a cry for religious freedom. Religious freedom is awesome and it’s hard to argue with. Which is why it’s such a great cover for opposing the Pill. As Amanda Marcotte argues, there’s a real risk that with marketing like this, a fringe position like opposition to the Pill can go mainstream. They can’t come right out and say that they’re anti-contraception, Marcotte writes:

Instead, the strategy is to fling the phrase “religious freedom” around a lot, and use it as a pretense to get their anti-contraception messages into the conservative mainstream. No doubt the hope is they can get people more used to these ideas and eventually they’ll be taken seriously in the larger mainstream. After all, this strategy worked well with “free market” libertarian ideology, which used to rightly be seen as the rantings of cranks, but now is the governing philosophy of an entire political party.

You know what’s actually an affront to religious liberty? Using religious liberty as a cover for your anti-contraception views in the hope that you’ll get people to take your fringe position more seriously. Especially when that fringe position that opposes a medical breakthrough that made it easier for women to go to college, have careers, enjoy sexual pleasure without the fear of pregnancy, and decide if and when they were going to become parents.

Don’t be fooled, folks. This isn’t about religious freedom. It’s about reproductive freedom. And the stakes – politically, personally, globally – are really high.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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