Sunday, June 12, 2005

Pollit Part II

After her ridiculous portrayal of abortion in America, Katha Pollit continues her descent into madness by pretending that birth control itself is about to be abolished in the land of the grand and glorious.
Emboldened by their many successes under the Bush administration, anti-abortion activists are going after contraception, too.
Hmmm. The “many successes” of the anti-abortion activists under Bush? Personally I can’t think of a single success that the anti-abortion movement has had in the last 5 years (apart from the fact that the abortion rate has been declining slightly.) But let’s assume that there have been some legal successes. What could Bush possibly have to do with them? The responsibility for abortion law currently resides in two places…the state governments and the Supreme Court. States make abortion laws, and the Supreme Court ultimately reviews them and either upholds them or invalidates them as unconstitutional. The president has nothing to do with the passage of state laws, and his only power over the Supreme Court is the ability to appoint justices when a vacancy arises. But no such vacancy has arisen during Bush’s tenure in office, so to invoke Bush’s name when discussing any “successes” the anti-abortion movement has is patently ridiculous.

Anyway, what is this about them “going after contraception too”? Well, according to Pollit:
Contraception has always been slightly suspect here: most women have paid for it themselves, because their private health insurance didn't cover it. By contrast, within a few months of its coming to market in 1998, about 60% of public and private health plans covered Viagra.
I’m a bit at a loss as to how having to pay for contraception means that contraception has been “suspect”. My insurance has never covered the cost of my toothbrush and toothpaste. Does that mean that brushing one's teeth has always been "suspect"? Anyway, my immediate reaction to the above is that, well, it’s private insurance. It’s not the government telling women they have to pay for their birth control while telling impotent men they don’t have to pay for their Viagra. But then we read this parenthetical:
(The blatant unfairness of this disparity, in fact, forced many state legislatures to pass laws requiring private insurers to include contraception in their drug coverage.)
I see. So this is the nefarious strategy by which the government plans to do away with contraception in America - force insurance companies to pay for it. How insidiously clever.

She finds it “truly frightening” when privately employed pharmacists exercise their personal religious beliefs by refusing to fill contraceptive prescriptions. Apparently it has never occurred to the far-too-easily-shaken Pollit to simply go to another pharmacist. It is a free country, after all. She finds it equally frightening that the FDA hasn’t granted over-the-counter status to Plan B. Apart from the fact that it being available through "prescription only" hardly makes it unavailable, perhaps she would not be so alarmed if she knew that the reasons she gives for the lack of OTC approval are not in fact the reasons given by the FDA itself.

But enough of this silliness. For hyperbole and breathlessness, Pollit probably cannot be matched. But if it’s an accurate portrayal of the abortion/contraceptive scene in America that you are after, ignoring Katha Pollit and The Guardian is a good starting point.

7 Comments:

Anonymous djr said...

I like your last half-sentence "ignoring Katha Pollit and The Guardian is a good starting point" although it could be applied to a lot more than the abortion / contraception issue.

As for Bush's victories ion his first term I think that he managed to ban partial-birth abortions unless the supreme court overruled him in the meantime. Hopefully, if he gets the chance, he will appoint some more conservatives that will permit anti-abortion laws in the individual states.

2:46 AM  
Anonymous p sojka said...

Hmmm, where to start. I first asked my OBGYN wife, "Are birth control pills covered by insurance?" Her response: yes. Insurance also covers the office visits for IUD insertions, Norplant insertions, etc. One strike for Pollit.

Nice of Ms. Pollit to ignore the fact that many abortions are performed by private physicians in their offices or hospitals. So a lack of public (read: free or virtually so) abortion clinics in any given area is no indication of the number of abortions being performed. Two strikes.

For the record: partial birth abortions, for all practical purposes, don't exist. I've spoken w/ dozens of OBs, none of whom has been trained how to do the procedure, knows anyone who performs them or was trained to perform them, or even knows where to send a patient who may need or want one. So banning partial birth abortion is like passing a law specifically prohibiting bankers from going to work naked. (Sure, it COULD happen, but really...) There's probably a better analogy out there, but it's late and you get the idea...

3:22 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

You could also point out that the Catholic church, a strong lobby in America, is against birth control and exerts considerable force on lawmakers.

12:18 PM  
Blogger GrannyGrump said...

p sojka, PBA does exist. It was originally dubbed "intrauterine cranial decompression" by its inventor, Jim McMahon, in Orange County, California. National Right to Life found out about it when one of their spies attended the National Abortion Federation Risk Management Seminar in Dallas Texas, 1992, and came away with a copy of Martin Haskell's presentation paper. Haskell also showed a video of the procedure to teach the technique, and got a standing ovation from the crowd.

You can go to the Life Dynamics site and get a free CD that includes clips from the NAF presentation.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Joe Noory said...

Actually, she cribbed the whole story, and the 'tude from a 3 week old BBC radio 4 item.
Apart from the fact that the story was fed to them by NOW, the BBC and now she has carried it without factchecking.

"Drinking the Kool-aid" is a trait found in many cette type

4:29 PM  
Blogger john b said...

I'm a pharmacist, and I've just converted to Christian Science, so I believe it to be immoral to prescribe any drugs for any medical conditions at all. My employer is banned from firing me, because I'm just exercising my personal religious beliefs.

Surely only the most closed-minded bigot would suggest that there's anything wrong with this situation?

12:16 PM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...

john b.,

"My employer is banned from firing me, because I'm just exercising my personal religious beliefs."

He shouldn't be and alomst certainly wouldn't be. If your religious beliefs are incompatible with your employer's business, there is no reason he should continue to pay you.

But you've misconstrued the issue at hand. The point I was addressing was not the ability of an employer to fire a phramacist who will not fill contraceptive prescriptions. The point I was addressing was the hyperbolic implication that, because a few pharmacists were doing so (without objection from their employer, by all accounts), contraception in the US is becoming increasingly hard to come by. That is a ridiculous contention.

SC

12:45 PM  

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