Please stand by while the 20th Century is partially repealed

My apologies to James McManus for appropriating and paraphasing the title of his marvelous essay, but it does feel these days that there is a war, if not against women, then certainly against modernity.

In the realm of public policy sometimes we let our guards down on particular issues. We expect, for example, gay marriage to spark controversy. We do not expect the same level of opposition (Alabama and Mississippi Republicans notwithstanding) to interracial marriage. We have come to expect controversy surrounding abortion. Not so with contraception.

But here we are. When Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a rule that reinforces our existing law here in North Carolina that religious universities and hospitals have to include contraceptive coverage in health plans, the backlash began. Then a bill introduced in Congress said that no employer health plan should have to cover this most basic benefit to women. There was a time when women who took contraceptives were considered responsible. Now our mothers and sisters and daughters are “sluts” and “prostitutes” for protecting themselves against unwanted pregnancies.

Now comes the New Hanover County Commissioners continuing this line of attack while turning down a state family planning grant. This from the Wilmington Star News:

Chairman Ted Davis said he thought it was a sad day when “taxpayers are asked to pay money to buy contraceptives” for women having sex without planning responsibly.

If these young women were responsible people and didn’t have the sex to begin with, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” Davis said.

Commissioner Jonathan Barfield said he was “one of those abstinence guys” and agreed with Davis’ comment.

How do you rebut these opinions? Do you start with the hypocrisy? Do you give a basic lecture on women’s health? In the end it’s difficult to read these quotes and accept that they were spoken by men who are of sound mind and body.

While the actions by Congress and the New Hanover Commissioners were mean and petty, they do serve as good reminders that progress is not necessarily permanent and no fight is final. There are always politicians ready to circumscribe the most personal decisions women must face. We should all push back before every gain of the last century is washed away in the aftermath of a single wave election.


  1. Jack

    March 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    While Wall Street and big business took billions and billions of taxpayer $$$$s because the free market wasn’t working the way they wanted it to remember who was blamed for their failure? The American people.

    Now that the Right-Wing-Nut-Jobs want to further force themselves into our lives they’re doing it with the overt act of calling our sisters and wives sluts and prostitutes. Not only turning back the clock but continuing the Right Wing attack in women.

    When did the American people agree to allow such verbal and legislative attacks, at the local, state and federal level, to take place? Have we become mesmerized by media and the words spewed at us that we are no longer aware of what is being said and done to us?

    Where are the Democrats of the House and Senate at state and federal level making a public stand against such women in general and our families specifically?

    Let’s not forget that Mr. Rush Limbaugh wants videos on YouTube so he can watch. Now, who is the slut?

  2. Darlene Burns

    March 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I feel like I’m living in a time warp. At first I thought we had been transported 40 years back in time. Now I realize it is more like the 1920’s and the suffrage movement hadn’t taken place. It’s a disgrace!

  3. Mari Kidd

    March 13, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Here in New Zealand women got the vote in 1893, so your time warp looks even more remarkable from this distance. How can any supposedly civilized society let them get away with this nonsense in the 21st century? Any woman who votes Republican should be forced to have a brain scan – to see if they have one!

  4. Glorianna

    March 13, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    I am 75/wife/mother/grandmother. Long past the need for contraceptives, but we are in a heap of trouble being pulled back to the dark ages. Listen up, younger Sisters! Stand up, younger Sisters. I may not be able to keep up with you anymore, but I’ll sure give it my best!

  5. MerryMarjie

    March 13, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I agree with Darlene Burns: this is more like the suffrage movement had never begun. How on earth did we go back to arguing the pros and cons of contraception?! Aren’t Republican women concerned about this? What do they want for their daughters? Yes, Glorianna, I implore the younger generation to stand up and put an end to this insanity, this tyranny which appears to be fomented by old, rich, white men. We must not allow contraception to go back to coat hangers and back alley “doctors”, the only remedies which our ancestors had to prevent more babies. I, too, will be out giving my all to stop this backslide.

  6. TCinLA

    March 13, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    It’s news to me that the 20th Century was ever ratified in the South.

    The Republican Party of today is absolutely not the Republican Party of earlier times. Certainly not the party of my great-great-great grandfather, a Pennsylvania Quaker Abolitionist who helped found the party there on a platform of abolition and was OK with his two sons leaving the Quaker church to go fight the Civil War as abolitionists. Definitely not the party of my grandmothers, both suffragists.

    What it is, is the Southernist Party. There have traditionally been three political parties in this country: the national progressive party, the national conservative party, and the southernist party. With the two national parties closely tied, the southernist party gives whichever one will respect their “peculiar institutions” (and not just slavery or white supremacy) the majority. After the Democrats became “traitors” in the 60s over civil rights, the southernists joined the Republicans under Nixon’s “southern strategy”, but this time they determined there would be no more “treason” by taking control. However, whenever a parasite takes over the host, the host dies, and then so does the parasite. This is what we are seeing now. And for those surprised at how many Baby Boomers are involved with the Tea Party and such, I’ll just say that there was never more than 15% of my generation that was “involved” in The Sixties, regardless of their stories. For the rest, the Sixties were just an uncomfortable period of time between the Fifties and the Eighties, with a little sex thrown in during the Seventies to be ashamed of.

  7. Carol

    March 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I’m with you Glorianna! At age 78 and a registered nurse, I have seen the damages of back-alley abortions. Young men and women, you will have to repeat history’s horrors if you don’t fight for freedom, each generation, one by one.
    Fond regards, Carol

  8. Adam Linker

    March 13, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    And remember, we aren’t even talking about abortion here. This is an attack on contraception.

  9. Frank Burns

    March 13, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Please get real people! Nobody is advocating denying contraception, when did it get to be a taxpayer’s responsibility to pay for it? Should the taxpayers pay for my gymnasium membership too? That helps my health.

    What gives the federal government the right to tell a religious institution what beliefs are valid and which are not? Freedom of religion is the issue.

  10. Adam Linker

    March 13, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Frank, health plans are required to cover basic services so that you don’t, for example, get cancer and then find out that you aren’t insured for that. No one really considered it controversial that NC has required coverage for contraceptives for more than a decade. Now it’s suddenly infringing on religious liberties?

    It’s a question of what counts as basic health coverage. I think most people would say contraceptives fall into that category.

  11. Frank Burns

    March 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Adam, there was always the exemption made for employees of institutions run by the Catholic Church. If you recall the Catholic church (not the Republican Party) has religious objections to contraception. The Federal government has no right to tell the Catholic Church that their belief is not valid. We have something called freedom of religion.

  12. JNagarya

    March 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Frank Burns is wrong. But Frank Burns isn’t listening because he knows it all and has nothing to learn. The FOX cesspool told him that.

    Frank: birth control pills have more legitimate medical uses than preventing pregnancy.

    And it isn’t about “religious” freedom: it is about employee rights. No one is telling “religions” they can’t continue their objections to modern times and science. What they are saying is that a “religion” doesn’t have the freedom to impose its views on employees of faiths — or no fiath — other than theirs.

    Ask yourself: why do you believe you know more about women’s health issues than women? And why is it your business to begin with?

  13. Carl Sorensen

    March 14, 2012 at 12:18 am

    And Frank Burns is a scary Neanderthal! (Mind you, he likely doesn’t know what that means!)

  14. Frank Burns

    March 14, 2012 at 6:02 am

    Jnagara, Carl. I make no apologies for telling the truth. It’s obvious that you don’t appreciate that and you are disappointed that someone has the temerity to rain on your parade of righteous indignation.

    I’m an American citizen and have a keen interest in keeping the freedoms that our ancestors fought and died for.

    I’m not interested in the uses of any medication or prescription, Bayer aspirin is also a medication. Should the federal government pay for that too?

    The government has no right to tell a religious institution that it must abandon a belief by issuing birth control when it has religious objections to that practice. The employee of that institution has a choice, if they don’t agree with that religious belief, then they can change jobs.

  15. Adam Linker

    March 14, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Frank, there was always an exemption, and still is, for Catholic churches and seminaries, but not for Catholic hospitals and universities.

  16. Frank Burns

    March 14, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Thanks for the information. In my opinion, there should be no distinction between the two. The Catholic Church runs those institutions with their values and beliefs. Just look at how foolish our government will look if they have to close those fine institutions down due to this infringement on religious freedom. It will be a clear case of cutting their nose off to spite themselves.

  17. Mike

    March 14, 2012 at 9:21 am

    There absolutely should be a distinction between the two! Hospitals in particular should all pay heed equally to regulations. This time it may be in regard to equal treatment under employment law, but what if it was a regulation regarding medical procedures or proscribing medicine.Should patients risk their health because of the religious reservations of the owners of the institution? Should I have to transfer to another hospital because I discover that the one I’m at won’t provide the treatment that I need? If the Catholic church can’t play by the rules established for all hospitals, maybe they shouldn’t be in the hospital business.

  18. […] New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Post on March 14, 2012 by Rob Schofield No Comments As Adam Linker discussed here yesterday, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners has gone all Rush Limbaugh in recent […]

  19. Alex

    March 14, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Please stand by as we lose our individual freedom, and the government begins to intrude into every facet of our life !

  20. Esteev

    March 14, 2012 at 9:58 am

    It isn’t surprising that in an election year with no real, viable GOP candidate that we are discussing some manufactured outrage to an issue that was settled a long time ago.

  21. gregflynn

    March 14, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Something tells me this fervor for religious freedom would be less ardent if we were talking about an Islamic institution.

  22. Esteev

    March 14, 2012 at 10:29 am

    I couldn’t agree more, Greg. Prime example: Florida passing an anti-Sharia Law bill then, 24 hours later, passing a pro-prayer-in-school bill. I assume Christian prayers are louder.

    Cognitive dissonance (noun)–Psychology– the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, esp. as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.

  23. DarHalen

    March 14, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    This is ridiculous. Nobody is really asking the tax payers to pay for contraceptives. It’s a requirement for all insurances to offer and cover them. I am offended that the RePUGnicans are making this an issue. I have a mother, two sisters, a niece, aunts and several female cousins. I would like to think that these “holier than thous” who claim to be Christian and “right for lifers” would consider that conceptive medications also help prevent other problems that could disrupt a woman’s ability to have children, such as ovarian cysts… which if not treated properly, could result in removal of ovaries and then they are done having children, if they’ve even ever had one. One of my sisters will never be a mother because of this very cause.

    I would also like to mention that we are getting over populated to a degree and I think it’s responsible to choose to limit offspring. What married couples do in bed is nobody’s business and if they choose to play without wanting to procreate, then go for it.

    Last, but oh not least, is the fact that insurance aren’t griping about covering Erection Medication. That is why this is so one sided. Let the man feel like a man, but not let the woman have her choices in return? BS!!!

    Remember, if you want to go forward, you put the car in D. To go backwards, you put the car in R.

  24. Adrienne

    March 14, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    What has been missing from this entire conversation and rhetoric is men. All the onus has been placed on women: It’s their fault if they get pregnant, and their fault if they don’t. Perhaps I am wrong, but I always felt that it took both a male and a female to have sex and to create a child. Regardless of how many times I said no, the men kept pushing for sex. Perhaps we need to educate the men and teach them to keep their “goodies” locked up. If men behaved better there just might be no need for contraceptives. Most health care plans cover viagra, so why not birth control to counter that? We need male contraceptives so we can have an equal conversaton about birth contol. Until that time comes, women must continue to bear the burden of when to conceive. And, until that time comes, men must learn to control their own urges. It still takes two, and this conversation has been totally put on women’s shoulders, once again. How about it, men? You still have two appendiges at the end of your arms, you know. So, why place all the blame of your sexual urges on women? We learned to say no, why can’t you? Let’s quit being two faced about all this and work together to solve whatever problem there is.

  25. Frank Burns

    March 14, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Thank you for that epistle, but nobody is asking you to stop using contraceptives.
    So you would agree with the government telling the Catholic Church which of their beliefs are valid? It also sounds like you admire the policies of Red China and limit births. I disagree, I intend of fighting for my freedoms and yours.
    Over here we don’t stone people for blashemy or cut off hands, etc. We don’t cotton to medieval barbarism in this country. We don’t care if you make jokes about Mohammed.

  26. Ricky Leung

    March 14, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    1. If not insured, contraceptives can be prohibitively expensive for college-aged women, women of lower income, etc. That’s like saying to someone who doesn’t have health insurance and can’t get medical treatment b/c of high costs that nobody is asking them to stop going to get medical help for serious conditions. Which, actually, is exactly what is happening to some women with ovarian cysts.

    2. China’s one-child policy is certainly not ideal and has negative consequences. But it is one solution (although short-sighted and not necessarily thoroughly thought out) to a problem of overpopulation, and unfortunately it has many negative ramifications. However, it’s not necessarily as sensational as many Westerners think because there are exemptions to the policy (with respect to minority ethnic groups and professional/socioeconomic make-up of the local community) and much of it is enforced on a very local level. (i.e. depending on the area, it might be strict or lax. And there are likely people who use wealth to achieve exemptions.) And the crux of the matter here is that the one-child policy takes away a choice from a family. And when, in the U.S., women are denied the choice of their own reproductive health through denial of adequate minimal insurance coverage, the same thing is happening. So the policies of “Red China” that denies a family to choose is more similar to the Catholic policy of deny a woman to choose, following your train of thought. (To be clear, I would not compare the Catholic to “Red China,” I am only following your own comparisons.) The government is not telling the Church which of their beliefs are valid, on the contrary, it is following a tradition of separation of Church and State that protects religion.

    3. Yes, over here we may not often stone people for blasphemy. But we do stigmatize them, to the point where some are beaten to death for being LGBT (Matthew Shepard), or Asian (Vincent Chin, Jim Loo), and some are pushed to the verge of suicide. And we detain people of color more often. We do deny people the right to marry. And we do care that “under God” stays in the pledge of allegiance. (And to be clear here is that I know there are countries that fare much worse than the U.S., but just because half the class fails the test doesn’t mean that we should not strive any higher than a C or D.)

  27. Frank Burns

    March 14, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Lots of things are expensive, like going out to dinner but the government shouldn’t pay for everything. At what point do we say no? Clearly government budgets are tight especially with so many people being unemployed and the resulting low tax receipts. On the federal level, I’m very concerned with the deficit spending. We cannot sustain this level of spending.

    I hope we never have the level of government countrol over the people like they do in Red China, Cuba and other Communist or Dictatorships. I will so my best to fight that control with all my strength. I don’t know anyone who is saying that women cannot use contraceptives or Viagra for men. Certainly the Republican party is not saying that. Yes if we ever did that we would be no better than Red China. Government should never do that but value personal freedom. When the government tells a Catholic Institution that they must provide insurance to their employees to cover contraceptives, it violates their beliefs against contraceptives. An employee of the Catholic institution is free to buy those contraceptives on their own nickel, but it doesn’t put the church in the position of essentially providing them via their insurance. The government should not require the church to do that.

    You make the point that there are evil deeds done by Americans. I agree with you, evil is present everywhere. We don’t condone those activities which you cited and the perpetrators of those deeds would be proscecuted when caught. In those nations where sharia law is practised, stoning people and cutting off hands or heads is state policy. It is a cruel nation that allows those things to happen. When we say the pledge of allegience we recognize our creator who happens to be the same creator for christians, jews and moslems.

  28. Adam Linker

    March 14, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Frank, you’re still missing the point with Catholic hospitals and universities. The Catholic church need not ordain female priests or cover contraceptives. But a Catholic hospital, which is in business thanks to massive amounts of federal and state money, can’t stop a female from being CEO simply because of her gender, no matter the hospital’s religious beliefs. Catholic hospitals also must take all emergency patients, even if they had a religious objection. They don’t have an objection to seeing all patients, but even if they did it would violate federal law to deny care.

  29. Frank Burns

    March 15, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Adam, your logic is that since these Catholic hospitals receive federal or state money to take care of poor people, that provides a justification for the Government to tell the Catholic Church which of their beliefs they may keep. It’s like the individual mandate of Obamacare requiring eveyone to purchase health insurance. It violates our freedom.

    Those Catholic hospitals have been providing care to poor long before the federal government ever got involved with spreading money around. Many on the staff are nuns and priests, professionals who are paid subsistance wages to care for the sick. I don’t agree with you. The government is wrong to do this. It’s extremely heavy handed.

  30. Adam Linker

    March 15, 2012 at 6:59 am

    That’s not the point at all. They are mostly paid by Medicare, not to take care of poor people by the way, and they get massive tax breaks. So you think they should not have to adhere to ADA, EMTALA, or anti- discrimination, or minimum wave laws etc? They have to abide by all of these. And also they don’t pay for contraceptives, the insurance companies do.

  31. Frank Burns

    March 15, 2012 at 10:14 am

    As long as those laws don’t violate their religious beliefs (which they don’t) then yes they would have to abide by them. They have to pay the insurance which pays for the contraceptives. You’re parsing terms, kind of like Bill Clinton.

  32. Adam Linker

    March 15, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Got it. If ADA and EMTALA violate a hospital’s religious beliefs then they shouldn’t have to abide by them. Thanks for the comments.

  33. Ricky Leung

    March 15, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Catholic hospitals are hospitals, not churches.

    “On the federal level, I’m very concerned with the deficit spending. We cannot sustain this level of spending.”

    That’s an entirely irrelevant point. The government is not paying for contraceptives, like Adam said. The insurance companies are. And in the long run, from an economic point of view, covering contraceptives for women actually lowers lifetime health costs.

    “I don’t know anyone who is saying that women cannot use contraceptives”

    Rick Santorum is saying that. He is vocally opposed to Griswold v. Connecticut. So I leave it to you to complete the “Red China” analogy.

    “When the government tells a Catholic Institution that they must provide insurance to their employees to cover contraceptives, it violates their beliefs against contraceptives.”

    Actually it doesn’t. It doesn’t require the Catholic institution hand out contraceptives. It requires that insurance covers them. There’s a difference between actually handing them out and requiring access. It’s up to their employees to decide what to do with their coverage. If their Catholic beliefs are a priority in life and they do not believe in using contraceptives, then the employees won’t even if they have the ability to. What the Catholic hospital must do is follow the law if they want to operate as a hospital and a business in the U.S.

    ” [..] evil is present everywhere. We don’t condone those activities which you cited […] When we say the pledge of allegience we recognize our creator who happens to be the same creator for christians, jews and moslems.”

    1. I did not use the term “evil.” I do not make absolutist judgements like that.
    2. We do condone them if we let Amendment One become part of the NC Constitution. So will you vote against it in May?
    3. That’s nice and dandy for all those of Judeo-Christian traditions. But what about the Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, atheists, etc.?

  34. Frank Burns

    March 15, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Catholic hospitals are institutions run and owned by the Catholic church, the government has no right to interfere with their belief system.

    When the federal government madates coverage, the insurance companies pass those costs on to the consumers. Again, like Adam, you are parsing terms with the insurance carrier of the church issuing the contraceptives while the church pays them. Please don’t use Bill Clinton as your role model. The huge federal bureaucracy created by Obamacare has now been estimated to cost us $1.8 trillion over 10 years. Remember when Obama told us it would cost $800 billion? Again we cannot sustain that level of government spending.

    Candidate Santorum has his own personal view points as you have. That doesn’t mean he speaks for the Republican party on every personal point of view. He is Catholic as I recall, that is their belief system. In Red China, personal viewpoints are forbidden if they are contrary to the state’s viewpoint, not the same thing. We are still a free country and can express our views freely.

    It doesn’t matter what terms you want to use, evil is still evident when those type of violence is done. We all know it when we see it. It’s that little voice in the back of your mind.

    Yes I will be voting against Amendment 1, I don’t agree with it.

    All those other religions also believe in a creator as well.

  35. Ricky Leung

    March 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Still hospitals and businesses, not churches. So they are governed by rules and regulations for hospitals and businesses, not not churches.

    Not government spending.

    Santorum is aiming to become the representative of the Republican Party. So he does/will speak for the Republican Party. And he’s not the only one that maintains that viewpoint.

    Good and evil are constructs of a simplistic binary morality. Those types of violence are bad and both good people and bad people do bad things. Evil is a supernatural descriptor attached to things to reduce understanding to black and white.

    Thanks for the support of the movement against Amendment 1.

    Atheists don’t believe in a god. Buddhists do not believe in a creator god.

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