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Mike Huckabee, Controlling Libidos and Natural Family Planning

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January 27, 2014

Recently, obvious mind reader of women/Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said some troublesome things about contraception coverage. He said that the recent improvements with reproductive health “insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar [??] coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.”

The whole “controlling libido” comment reminds me so much of how anti-choice folks push natural family planning, or NFP, as the all-encompassing solution to avoiding hormonal birth control. NFP is a method in which a person uses signs of their body, such as cervical mucus and timing of menstrual periods in order to time out ovulation according to their cycle. While for many people, it has proved to be a great tool for attempting/avoiding pregnancy, it’s often toted as the best birth control method for everyone by the anti-choice crowd.

When I have these conversations about birth control with anti-choice folks, it starts with an assertion that reproductive justice is about preventing unplanned pregnancy through accessible birth control. Then I have to face the hesitance of using birth control, including serious but rare side effects (which is an educated risk that everyone takes when on a medication), and the idea that hormonal birth control is “unnatural,” because we all know things like deodorant, indoor plumbing and reading blogs on electrical, lit up boxes is exactly what most mammals “naturally” do.

When people negate the need for hormonal birth control, they are denying the staggering amount of advancement made in medical science that has helped progress society. Literally, birth control has changed humankind. It provides an easy and efficient way for people to avoid unplanned pregnancies and to advance economically. Of course, hormonal birth control doesn’t work nor it is the perfect or best for everyone (hurray for the Paraguard IUD!). But constantly saying, “But try natural family planning!” isn’t going to magically convince literally millions of people to flush their pills/remove their IUDs/refuse their Depo shots in favor of a menstrual tracking calendar iPhone app and mucus-checks. The entire idea that people should just close their knees together to avoid becoming pregnant is bogus and unrealistic.

Natural family planning is often considered the holy grail of pregnancy prevention according to most anti-choicers, when in reality it’s not the perfect or most effective form of birth control. The part that is truly infuriating is the assumption that is if women “control their libidos,” that our government will completely avoid paying for birth control, if only you women-people were in control of yourselves! Basically, it’s saying, yeah, you sluts! It’s so blatantly characteristic of anti-choice rhetoric that it’s humorous.

Of course, NFP is totally awesome if that is your chosen birth control method. In fact, plenty of people do chose it over medical methods for a variety of reasons. But we can’t just keep insisting that people avoid hormonal birth control at all costs and instead take some pain relievers for those awful cramps and use a calendar, and you’ll be fine.

We shouldn’t shame people for having a sex drive, especially women. No one is helpless by having their insurance cover birth control. We need to think about why anti-choice folks are so against hormonal birth control and understand that it’s more than just saving money, but it’s about slut-shaming. When we fight for reproductive justice, always remember that it doesn’t matter if we’re having a lot of awesome sex. We still deserve access to birth control with no co-pay.

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