Birth control isn’t just about sex — but it’s also about sex

Former Republican presidential candidate Huckabee speaks during the third session of the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, MinnesotaAs Maya posted about yesterday, Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and 2008 wannabe GOP-nominee, has sparked a justifiable fire storm with his comments about contraceptives at the Republican National Convention. Huckabee said:

If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government then so be it! Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be.

It is so, so tempting to take Huckabee down the easy way, highlighting the importance of contraceptives for women’s education, careers, family lives, and overall health — it isn’t all about sex, Mike. On MSNBC Cecile Richards countered the accusation that we’re all slutty-slut-sluts by enumerating the medical and economic reasons people need birth control.

Richards is of course correct: birth control isn’t just about sex. But even if there are many reasons other why we need birth control access, helping people create the intimate lives they desire is an important goal, too. Huckabee’s comments are misogynistic and illogical on so many levels, but we don’t need to concede his basic premise — that sex is bad, and good women abstain — in order to prove their absurdity.

I absolutely get why it’s sometimes strategically necessary to hold up as the poster child for contraceptive access the patient with polycystic ovary syndrome or the hardworking mother who just can’t take care of another child and keep her job. But, wherever possible, we need to avoid drawing lines between “good” and “bad” reasons for accessing reproductive services, from contraceptives to abortions, that accept our opponents’ anti-sex moral framework as the only option. A win on their turf is an empty victory; let’s win on our terms.

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Alexandra

Alexandra Brodsky really appreciates not having to pay for her birth control.

New Haven, CT

Alexandra Brodsky is a senior editor at Feministing.com and student at Yale Law School. Alexandra also serves as the Board Chair of Know Your IX, a national student-led movement to end gender violence, which she co-founded and previously co-directed. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she is the co-editor of The Feminist Utopia Project: 57 Visions of a Wildly Better Future. She has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice at campuses across the country and on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, and NPR. At Yale Law, Alexandra studies antidiscrimination law and is a member of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic. After graduation, she will represent girls facing discriminatory suspensions and expulsions as a Skadden Fellow at the National Women's Law Center. Most importantly, Alexandra is the mommy to Margot, a tiny pomchi rescue from North Carolina

Alexandra Brodsky is a senior editor at Feministing.com and student at Yale Law School.

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