Blog Posts

Misogynist Logic: Testifying about contraception makes your sex life fair game

So, according to Misogynist Logic, any discussion of contraception using the pronoun "we" is automatically a discussion of one's personal sex life, and makes that person's sex life fair game for public debate and ugly, crude speculation. Why? Because "in the real world, contraception involves sexual activity." Leaving aside that it doesn't always, because there are other uses for common contraceptives — you know what else usually involves sex? Marriage. And childbearing. By this standard, anyone who uses the term "we" when discussing public policy issues concerning marriage or children is making their sexual activity a matter of public debate. Who among the people who most often discuss "family" policy would accept being subjected to the Sandra Fluke treatment?

(h/t: Balloon Juice)

Blog Posts, Past Actions

In Defense of Life, We Support the Coalition to Protect Women’s Health Care

All Our Lives, a pro *every* life nonprofit, does *not* stand with the anti-contraception Stand Up for Religious Freedom.

We support religious freedom, but that does not include employers' restriction of workers' family planning freedom. Instead we support and applaud the Coalition to Protect Women's Health Care in its defense of contraceptive access.

Family planning freedom is a human right in its own right, and indispensable to reducing unintended pregnancies and abortions.

All people, whether prolife or prochoice on abortion, should join together in the defense of family planning freedom, so that it becomes a reality for all women, especially women whose exercise of it is hindered by discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, socioeconomic class, race/ethnicity, disability, national origin, and/or sexual orientation.

Blog Posts

Birth control and slut shaming: let’s get a few things straight

There seem to be some misconceptions going around about birth control, so let's get a few things straight:

  • For the majority of birth control methods, there is no correlation between the amount of sex a person has and how much birth control she uses or what it costs.
  • Shaming a person for using birth control says a lot about you and nothing about them.
  • Birth control is often used for reasons other than pregnancy prevention, such as to treat ovarian cysts (Sandra Fluke, the woman being slammed on the right as a "slut" and a "prostitute" for her pro-contraception testimony, was telling the story of a friend of hers who lost an ovary because she couldn't afford the treatment for a cyst). I'm not saying those uses are more legitimate than preventing pregnancy, just pointing out that they do exist.

Got any others? Please feel free to share in the comments or on our Facebook page.

Blog Posts

About That All-Male Birth Control Panel….

I love my country, the United States. And that’s why I am so embarassed about the current cavalcade of birth control follies now overtaking our public life.

We have so many material resources, why can’t we share them to help all who need help covering the full range of family planning choices, without all this uproar? Poor Americans, immigrants, people of color, women, people with disabilities…why why why are these the groups that always get lost in the shuffle?

Exhibit A of said cavalcade: The all male panel that was convened before Congress to explain why the recent Department of Health and Human Services ruling on family planning coverage intrudes upon religious freedom.

When pressed, apparently, some of the panel members conceded that maybe contraception was OK in cases of “medical necessity.”

In an animated conversation with people I know, I submitted that this concession might stem from a belief that women with disabilities/health impairments have no business reproducing. Someone said that I was prejudicial, leaping to conclusions.

So I read through each of the panelists’ testimonies. If anyone can provide substantive evidence that any of these men have good disability and/or women’s rights records, then pleasantly surprise me, would you please?

Reading the testimonies just made me even more skeptical that any of them get the reproductive rights of women with disabilities–let alone *all* women’s family planning rights. Below are my notes on each testimony. If you want to read the testimonies yourself, please go here.

William Lori, US Conference of Catholic Bishops: Compares the proposed contraceptive coverage regulations to the government forcing Orthodox Jewish delis to serve pork, when that pork eaters can easily, cheaply, and freely get their chosen meat elsewhere.

This analogy does not hold (and it offends me as someone whose vision of reverence for life encompasses being a vegetarian, and an anti-anti-Semite). Pork is death-dealing, first of all to pigs, and second of all to humans who develop serious health problems from eating it. Access to free/affordable voluntary contraception, on the other hand, is often life- and health-giving for women, especially women with disabilities.

The analogy also suggests that contraception is somehow an optional luxury, one already easily, freely, cheaply available through many other venues. Yet the reality is that family planning access is far from a given for millions of US women, including and especially women with disabilities.

Women with disabilities are far more likely than nondisabled to live in poverty, rely on government benefit programs, be unemployed or underemployed, and thus to have constricted access, if any, to health care of all kinds, including voluntary family planning services and supplies. Any HHS ruling that expands voluntary family planning access, whether through government programs, private health plans, or some combination of the two, thus promotes the interests and needs of women with disabilities. Does Lori know this?


Matthew C. Harrison, President, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod: “We object to the use of drugs and procedures used to take the lives of unborn children. We oppose this mandate since it requires religious organizations to pay for and otherwise facilitate the use of such drugs by their employees.”

As All Our Lives asserts every day, just about, according to the best, most current scientific evidence, IUDs and hormonal birth control methods such as the pill and Plan B emergency contraception work *before* conception and not at any point after. Thus the contraceptive coverage ruling is in fact solely about pregnancy *prevention*, by *anyone’s* definition of when life or pregnancy begins.

If Harrison believes this misinformation about such a critical health issue impacting so many women, with or without disabilities: then why should I be optimistic that he is amply informed about, let alone eager to promote and defend the family planning concerns of women with disabilities, a frequently overlooked and neglected minority population?


C. Ben Mitchell, Union University: “I am here to decry the contraception, abortifacient, and sterilization mandate issued by the Department of Health and Human Services on January 20, 2012…” , See my objections to Harrison’s testimony.


Meir Soloveichick, Yeshiva University: “The administration denies people of faith the ability to define their religious activity.” This definition of “people of faith” does not include or side with disabled women who make prayerful, conscientious, lifegiving, and lifesaving decisions about which family planning method(s) to use and when and whether to pursue conception.


Craig Mitchell, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary: “This rule…takes away the freedom of the citizens while emboldening the federal government to do whatever it wants.”

Whoa….Just about every discriminated-against group in the US has heard such an argument leveled against its own struggle for justice.

Mitchell’s definition here of “citizens” who are deprived of freedom sides with powerful religious institutions whose policy on birth control, especially when intruded into the public sphere, infringes upon the freedoms of many women with disabilities (not to mention women in general, but let’s stay focused on this doubly discriminated against minority for the time being.)

In effect it forces a “choice” between lifelong celibacy and a single method of family planning, natural family planning that may be right for some women. But for many women with disabilities, NFP is quite ineffective and illfitting, even as pregnancy may be quite risky for them, and they wish *themselves* to conceive sparingly, or not at all.

Mitchell’s notion here of “citizens” deprived of their freedom in regard to family planning does not appear to recognize women with disabilities and their children’s and their own rights to health and life.


I treasure religious freedom, especially as someone affiliated with a distinctly minority, other than Christian faith. Some of my ancestors were forcibly deprived of their religious freedom. Never again! But these testimonies…so awry…so unaware, it seems, of who they are excluding, and why, and how. In the name of prolife, even though their unwillingness to meet the administration halfway could end up costing lives, unborn, already born.

Blog Posts

Tell the Truth: They’re Not Abortifacients, But Anti-Abortifacients

In the debate over contraceptive coverage in the United States, many opponents have repeated the argument that they do not want to be forced to pay for "abortifacients," namely IUDs and hormonal contraceptives such as "the pill" and the emergency contraceptive Plan B.

But, as All Our Lives continually points out, this isn't what the scientific evidence says. Check out, for example, the references in our "Family Planning Freedom Is Prolife" slideshow.

In fact, these very methods are among the most effective reversible methods at preventing conception. So, they're not abortifacients. They are anti-abortifacients.

We have already discussed the grave real-life consequences of the misinformation here. Unfortunately, they go far beyond any blog post.

The Supreme Court of Honduras has just ruled that emergency contraception amounts to abortion and thus should be subjected to the same criminal penalties. Never mind that Honduran women's access to all kinds of family planning–pregnancy prevention–is severely restricted and the government.

If you appreciate the work of All Our Lives, please join us in challenging the rampant misinformation about how such methods of birth control work. Wherever you live, don't let it go unchallenged. Refer those who perpetuate it to our slide presentation, which lists specific scientific studies.

You will likely encounter complete resistance from some people, especially those who both categorically oppose birth control and want to interfere in others' right to make their own decisions about it.

But others will welcome the good news that these methods are anti-abortifacients. And if those of us who believe in family planning freedom say nothing, women will continue to suffer, and unborn babies to die.

Blog Posts

On the contraception mandate

I should point out before I begin that in this post, I am speaking for myself only. The All Our Lives board is not unanimous in the details of our opinions on requiring religious employers to provide insurance that covers contraception, though we are united in our belief that widespread access to contraception is vital.

I have a problem with the whole way this whole issue has been framed as “making churches pay for something they find morally objectionable.” Health insurance that someone earns as part of their employment compensation package is theirs, not the employer’s. If an institution’s religious freedom does not extend to allowing them to tell the employee that she can’t use her salary to pay for contraception, why should it extend to telling the employee that she can’t use her insurance benefit to pay for contraception? Yes, the money to pay the premium is coming from the employer, but so is the money to pay her salary. As far as I can tell, the difference is that religious institutions have been able to restrict the way that employees use their insurance benefits in a way that they have not been able to restrict the way that employees use their salaries, but the ability to do something does not make it a right. If there were some kind of special money that could be used to buy anything except contraception, would it be a violation of religious institutions’ First Amendment rights to require all employers to pay in standard money?

I’m an atheist. I rely on the separation of church and state to protect my freedom. Because of that, I’m leery of anything that even remotely smacks of government interference in religion or religious interference in government. That’s why I can appreciate the impulse behind the Adminstration’s accomodation allowing religious institutions to offer restricted insurance to their employees while still requiring the insurers to provide contraception coverage to those employees. I won’t claim to respect the belief that contraception is intrinsically evil. I think it causes great harm and is based on a number of false premises. But I do respect people’s right, as much as is possible in a pluralistic society, not to cooperate with something they think is evil. What happens, though, if Jehovah’s Witness employers decide that their employee’s insurance plans shouldn’t cover blood transfusions? What if Scientologist employers decide that their employees shouldn’t be covered for psychiatric treatment? At what point do we decide that a person’s right to practice their religion is interfering with another person’s right to live their life without having to submit to the rules of that religion? The degree of the employers’ “cooperation with evil” in these cases is remote — paying a benefit which the employee decides to use for a purpose condemned by the employer’s religion — while the impact on the employee who is restricted in their use of their own benefit is direct. The same is true of insurance coverage of contraception.

Blog Posts

Plan B Misinformation Has Real-Life Consequences for Rape Victims

Elise Hilton is the mother of an intellectually and psychiatrically disabled young woman who was recently raped. As Meghan discussed in a recent post, women with disabilities are at pronounced risk for sexual abuse and assault.

It fell upon Hilton to decide whether or not her daughter should take Plan B emergency contraception. As reports, Hilton decided against Plan B for her daughter on the grounds that the drug may "take the life of an innocent child."

But up to date, correct scientific information about Plan B probably could have saved Hilton a lot of her agony over this decision and alleviated her fears of endangering a very young grandchild. Levonorgestrel type emergency contraceptives work entirely before conception. In fact, they have no possible mechanism for hindering implantation or otherwise working after sperm meets egg.

How often do rape victims and their loved ones suffer unnecessarily because of the myths out there-spread by prolifers and prochoicers alike-about emergency contraception and how it does and doesn't work? How many unintended pregnancies and abortions happen?

We wish Hilton and her daughter healing. We call for people to rise up against the rape and abuse of human beings with disabilities and bring an end to it. And we will work all the more to replace misinformation about Plan B with the facts that rape survivors and their loved ones need and deserve to know in the midst of a crisis.

Blog Posts, Past Actions

Pfizer birth control recall

Pfizer has announced a recall of 1 million birth control pill packets, saying that there was a packaging error that led some of the packets to have too many active pills and some to have too few. This press release from Pfizer contains information on how to tell whether your pills are subject to the recall. If you are using birth control pills, check your packet to make sure that you are not accidentally put at risk for unintended pregnancy.

Blog Posts

Any Loss of a Child Is Sad

Michelle Duggar has miscarried her 20th child with her husband Jim, according to

I cannot help but wonder how many women with pregnancy-related medical risks end up conceiving and losing babies because they feel, or someone else feels, G*d doesn't want them to use family planning.

At the same time: condolences to this family, as to any other, who loses a child.

Blog Posts

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month … and Respect Life Month

It's appropriate that October is both Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Respect Life Month, as domestic violence (also known as intimate partner violence) and abortion are closely linked.

1 in 3 women worldwide are subjected to gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence (IPV), which may involve:

  • Sexual assault and contraceptive sabotage–thus heightened risk for/ incidence of unintended pregnancies.
  • Inhospitable circumstances for women to continue pregnancies and raise their children, leading more women to see abortion as their only choice.
  • Directly forced abortions.
  • Homicide of mother and/or child.

This fact sheet from Know More, Say More summarizes the research into the connection between domestic violence and unintended pregnancy, abortion, miscarriage, and homicide in the United States. The link between IPV and induced abortion has identified by studies from many other countries as well (including Australia, Bangladesh, Cameroon, and Italy). Some of these also link IPV and miscarriage.

Any strategy to reduce the incidence of abortion must address intimate partner violence and reproductive coercion. If you work with a pro-life group or crisis pregnancy center and would like to learn more about how your organization can serve abused women, please contact us.