A photo of the US Capitol at sunset

Despicable Senate GOP nonvote on contraception bill reveals true intent


There’s an old saw that if you put a frog in boiling water, it’ll immediately jump out — but if you gradually raise the temperature it won’t realize it’s being slowly boiled alive. A tall tale, yet it seems like an apt metaphor for how the enemies of reproductive freedom are getting the rest of America to kowtow to their draconian agenda.

Our reproductive rights are being inexorably overturned, but the assault is so continuous that it’s starting to feel normal.

It would have seemed unbelievable 10 years ago that Roe v. Wade could be summarily overturned just before its 50th anniversary. Who could have foreseen SB 8, the Texas law that foreshadowed the repeal of Roe and empowered strangers to sue anyone who aided someone having an abortion in any way? That 21 states would adopt bans or severe restrictions on abortion rights? That abortion would not be legal anywhere in the South except Virginia and North Carolina (with limitations)? That, even though it failed, a bold attempt by Christian extremists judge-shopping an openly Christian nationalist federal judge could get him to declare a nationwide ban on a medication abortion pill? That a chief justice in Alabama could use the word “God” 41 times in a concurring opinion that says frozen embryos in an IVF clinic have the same legal rights as born children?

Meanwhile, we await two decisions by the Supreme Court, which could curtail use of medication abortion or even allow a state to violate a longstanding law that hospitals must treat critically ill persons, including pregnant patients needing abortion care. And the Texas Republican Party platform appears to call for women obtaining abortion care to be eligible for the death penalty.

The absolutely heartless Texas Supreme Court late last month dismissed the heartbreaking experiences of 20 Texas plaintiffs whose lives or future pregnancies were endangered by the state’s strictly worded exception to its abortion ban. The high court refused to clarify the narrow exception supposedly permitting abortion to save a woman’s life despite the overwhelming evidence of how the exception is being interpreted. Women testified about developing sepsis, being forced to carry lethal pregnancies, pregnancies incompatible with life whose continuation was endangering their lives. One woman was treated so belatedly for a doomed pregnancy that her future ability to have children is compromised. This is “pro-life”?

And now we’ve witnessed the recent despicable action by Republican senators who blocked a vote on the Right to Contraception Act. The purpose of the bill is “​​to protect a person’s ability to access contraceptives and to engage in contraception, and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide contraceptives, contraception, and information related to contraception.” How is this possibly controversial to anyone but the pope (who doesn’t rule the United States yet)? Hopefully the Democrats in the Senate still will be able to force that vote.

Those senators from the Dark Ages who blocked the vote last week are clearly afraid to let voters see their true colors if they voted “nay.” And I’m sure they’re even more terrified by the anti-abortion extremists who have taken over their party and who would work to unseat them should they vote “yea.” To their great credit, House Democrats are likewise mustering to try to force a vote in that chamber this week — let’s hope they can do so — to show America in this election year that the true intent of the congressional standard-bearers of the Republican Party is to make women barefoot and pregnant and return them to their God-ordained role of Kinder, Küche, Kirche (“children, kitchen, church”).

On its face, opposition by anti-abortionists to contraception makes no sense. Obviously, if you want to avoid abortions, very logically you should be a huge cheerleader for “planned pregnancies” and contraception. But that assumes you aren’t a Christian crusader and fetus worshiper who doesn’t even think there can be such a thing as an “unwanted” pregnancy. They seek to deprive women and others capable of getting pregnant of agency, of bodily autonomy and to force compulsory pregnancy.

Pregnancy is punishment for sexual activity, and bearing children is a woman’s biblically decreed purpose. According to Genesis, an uppity woman committed the supposed sin of eating fruit that was good food, pleasant to the eye and “desired to make one wise,” and now therefore all womankind are cursed: “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

The religiously driven fanatics who think a zygote or even a fertilized egg in a fertility lab’s test tube have more rights than a born, living human being are certainly doing their damndest to multiply sorrow and conception in the United States.

As our rights appear to be boiled alive in front of us, we must — before it’s too late — resist and  collectively take action to demand through the ballot box that the United States once again honor the essential human right of the individual to determine if and when to become a parent. And we must work to unseat anyone in Congress who votes against or refuses to vote for the right to contraception.