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Panelists at the Illinois ACLU’s “War on Contraception” seminar Jan. 30 (from left): Damilla Taylor, Gaylon Alcaraz, Leah Bartelt and Lorie Chaiten [Photo by Paige Scarlett]
Last night I joined a group of pro-life activists to “crash” the Illinois ACLU’s meeting in Chicago Heights, Illinois, touting its sensationalist “War on Contraception” agenda. Pro-lifers made up for at least seven of the 20 people in attendance.
The seminar was the second of three being held in three Chicago suburbs at health clubs, libraries, or other intentionally innocuous locations as part of the ACLU’s “Defending the Targets of Intolerance” series to stand up for supposedly “oppressed” groups including gays, lesbians, and women.
These groups and contraception itself are “singled out for intolerance in society,” according to Lorie Chaiten, Director of the Reproductive Rights Project at the ACLU of Illinois, who also served as the moderator of the event.
On the panel were Leah Bartelt also of ACLU’s Reproductive Rights Counsel, Gaylon Alcaraz, Executive Director of the Chicago Abortion Fund who “helps” underprivileged black women get their “right” to free or affordable abortions on a daily basis, and Damilla Taylor, a 23-year old college student who heads up “Our Voices, Our Choices” through the Chicago Abortion Fund.
To give the impression that contraception is used more often than it actually is, Leah Bartelt referred to an oft-cited statistic that 98% of Catholic women have used contraceptives at some point in their lives.
This is a meaningless statistic, since there are untold numbers of Catholic women—as there are women of all other faiths—who have used contraception at least once in their lives, but have since made a conscious decision to shun it for any number of reasons other than lack of “access.” Odd, then, to talk of a “war” on something so readily available.
Not to be deterred, Bartelt claimed that are looming threats to women’s access to contraceptives, including the right of a pharmacy or individual pharmacist to refuse to fill a contraceptives prescription or the morning after pill, and the right of a healthcare providers to deny contraceptive coverage.
One wonders if she somehow missed the news about HHS mandate issued January 20 that will force all group health insurance plans—even those offered by agencies run by the Catholic Church—to cover all FDA-approved contraception.
Bartelt also voiced her concern about the threat to governmental funding of contraception. In 2011, Planned Parenthood was nearly defunded as a result of tireless efforts on the part of grassroots pro-life activists working hand-in-hand with pro-life elected officials. According to Bartelt’s estimates, the taxpayers’ funding of contraception has helped to prevent one million unwanted pregnancies per year since 1980.
She claims half of these unwanted pregnancies would have ended in abortion, implying abortion is an act that should be prevented, yet which she advances in her job everyday. Bartelt even went so far as to say that having free contraceptives available without restrictions to women would save the government money on the back end—meaning preventing certain people from being born.
Gaylon Alcaraz, who works with underwriting abortions for black women, spoke mainly from personal emotion and few facts. She repeatedly said how wonderful and vital sex education is in schools and how women have a “right” to free or affordable contraceptives. She said if people don’t like funding other peoples’ birth control, they should basically just suck it up.
Alcaraz bemoaned what she called “a lack of information” among many women, and is worried that many women are using the “wrong” form of birth control. She says that schools need more sex education since teens often don’t know about their bodies, much less how to prevent pregnancy. She stressed “responsibility” by which she meant talking about birth control with your partner before proceeding with sexual acts.
Damilla Taylor, who, like Alcaraz, works for the Chicago Abortion Fund, said that much misinformation is being passed on among young people in particular, and that there is not enough education out there to correct these myth. In so doing, she echoed much of what Alcaraz said, but neither gave any real examples.
The panel took questions ranging from “Why should we have to pay for other peoples’ choice to use contraceptives?” to “There is a recent statistic on the decrease in abortion both in Illinois and nationally. Many attribute this decrease to abortions to a rise in contraceptives. How can you say then that there is a war on contraceptives?”
The panelists gave pathetically insufficient answers and never really addressed the heart of the concerns being expressed. They also scoffed at the assertion that abortion numbers are down in Illinois, saying those numbers are skewed, and that abortions are actually up due to lack of “access” to contraceptives.
At the event, it seemed 65-70% of questions asked by written submission were favorable to life, while a mere 30-35% were in favor of the biased message being presented by the ACLU.
If the ACLU was hoping to significantly influence public opinion with their “War on Contaception” seminar, clearly, they failed.
The last of the three Illinois ACLU “War on Contraception” events will be held on Thursday, February 2 at 7:00pm at the Community Recreation Center in Schaumburg. Among the panelists is Mandy Gittler, an abortionist at All Women’s Health in Chicago.
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