Certainly, if the right wing can frame contraception as a “lifestyle” choice, like watching porn or using sex toys, then it becomes much easier to strip away insurance coverage or federal subsidies to make contraception more affordable, all while playing dumb and pretending they’re not trying to take people’s contraception away.
Can this framing take hold? It’s an open question. On the one hand, more than 99 percent of sexually active women have used contraception at some point in their life, and 62 percent of women of reproductive age are currently using a contraceptive method. That level of ubiquity, plus the undeniable fact that pregnancy is a major medical event, makes it hard to imagine that the right could get very far with the attempt to kill our current understanding of contraception as a health-care decision and instead get people to think of it as a “lifestyle” choice.
Of course, abortion is also really common. It’s rare compared to contraception, which many women take on a continuous basis, but about one-third of women will have an abortion in her lifetime. Yet abortion is treated as far rarer and more marginalized than it is, with quite a few people not even realizing how many women they know who have had one. Women who have abortions usually don’t talk about it with most people in their lives; conservatives were able to shame and demonize women who have abortions to the point where such discussions are incredibly hard to have. Most of the discourse about abortion deals with the politics of it, rather than the experience of it. Because of all this, abortion has been successfully marginalized in health care, not covered by government insurance, and understood by most people to be a medical experience separate from your everyday health care.
It’s clear this is what the right is trying to do with contraception, and they have a potent weapon to do it: sexual shame.
Lisa Maatz, Use of Contraception is Not Your Boss’ Business
Call for participation! We will be co-hosting a Tweetchat with the Center for Reproductive Rights at 2PM E.T. TODAY to discuss what’s at stake as the contraceptive mandate heads to #SCOTUS. Join in by tweeting at us using the hashtag #Reprochat and #NotMyBossBusiness.