Musings on the words of Rep. Steve King

By Claire, Communications Intern

And so the hyperbolic statements about the decline of civilization due to the “immoral nature” of family planning begins.  It really didn’t take them very long.  And by them, I mean anti-choice politicians who are quickly proving they don’t just hate abortion but also hate birth control and easier access to it.

The Institute of Medicine recommendations for preventative care and their acceptance by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is a historic win for women and supporters of reproductive choice.  Complete coverage of all types of prescription birth control and sterilization procedures by insurance providers is a needed and long-overdue service.  It will make the lives of women and their families so much easier without the worry of unplanned pregnancy adding further hardship to an often already strained financial situation, particularly in the current economy.

But anti-choice leaders don’t quite see it that way.  Just ask Iowa representative Steve King, who doesn’t quite seem to understand why people do have children.  In his statement he questions the decision to make preventative medicine accessible.

They’ve called it preventative medicine. Preventative medicine. Well if you applied that preventative medicine universally what you end up with is you’ve prevented a generation. Preventing babies from being born is not medicine. That’s not— that’s not constructive to our culture and our civilization. If we let our birth rate get down below replacement rate we’re a dying civilization.

Emphasis mine.

Now, I can take this statement a number of ways.  I could get angry that he is implying we need to force women to be pregnant for the good of our “civilization” that still treats women, racial minorities, LGBTIQ-identified people, those with disabilities and other marginalized citizens (not to mention non-citizens) as less than human.  That he is implying that women are merely baby-factories for the next generation of patriotic Americans.  Perhaps he is also insinuating that women cannot be trusted to want any children and a birth rate must be insured.  At the same time, it’s hard to ignore the nativist issue here.  America is not even remotely in any danger of being without a next generation given how much immigration into this country happens.  So why is the birth rate in a country already overpopulated with 300 million people so important?  Is it because “native” citizens are already being out-birthed by our immigrant population?

Or perhaps Rep. King is actually addressing the very real issues with pregnancy, childbirth and child-rearing that American women face.  I mean, if women can choose between free preventative medicine or the highest maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world, expensive OB-GYN visits/hospital stays, cuts to education, medical expenses for any chronic issues their children might have due to inadequate OB-GYN care, less pay for the same work, discrimination based on status as mothers or as potential mothers, loss of productivity/career advancement as primary caretakers of children, lack of future educational pursuit for themselves, etc one could wonder why any woman would choose willingly to become pregnant?  Of course, Rep. King’s suggestion is to not fix all the issues that make motherhood unreachable for millions of women but to force those women into motherhood despite all the factors against them that could ruin or detrimentally impact their lives and the lives of their future children.

I could go on for a while reading between the lines of his statement.  But I think you all get the point.  This anti-choice politician is just trying to make a splash in anti-choice circles with his hyperbolic doomsday opinions.  Seems like a ridiculous jump of logic to everyone else.  The birth rate will not substantially drop when the IOM recommendations go into effect next year.  Especially given that many women want to be mothers some day, even women on birth control and women who have had abortions.  The key word is some day.

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