Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Politics of Birth Control

It's not just controlling women, it's controlling races and religions.  And it's been going on in this country for a very long time.

In Bill Bryson's One Summer:  America, 1927, he takes a microscope to everything 1927, from flight to baseball to eugenics.  As I read about the eugenics movement, I thought about controlling women's reproduction and how it has evolved over time.

Margaret Sanger's interest in birth control involved reducing the populations of blacks and Chinese.  Prescott Bush, grandfather of "W.", worked with Sanger in the newly formed American Birth Control League, which later became Planned Parenthood, where he served as Treasurer.  It has been said that Bush's interest in population control had something to do with all those Catholics that were procreating.

Imagine the surprise of all those who propounded about birth control as a means of reducing the numbers of undesirables when in fact this became the means to move those groups into the middle class.  Italians, Jews, Chinese, African Americans and anyone else who did not fit into the WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) image were becoming doctors, lawyers, and yes, politicians.  Smaller families meant more disposable income and the time to pursue a career, both for men and women.  And political power.

We have lately been confused by this current push to ban birth control.  Why on earth would the right wingnuts want to create a situation where more of us who lean Democratic have more Democratic babies?  Well, the answer is in political and fiscal power.  When you can't control how many babies you have or when, your options in life, and those of your family, become limited.  The path to college for a girl in high school, the opportunity for travel and knowledge about the world, the chance for a career and career advancement, all are dimmed when a woman is unable to make reproductive decisions.

Of course, when birth control is unaffordable, those rich white guys will still be able to provide birth control for their families.  And when it is illegal, well, the same will be true.  And there may be more of us, but we'll be too busy trying to care for our families to compete for money and power, or even a fair chance at a good life.

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