Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Even Birth Control Is Under Attack


Reprinted with permission from Creators.


There was a time when Republicans and Democrats generally agreed that access to birth control was a public good. Most saw preventing unwanted pregnancies as key to making abortions rare. Those days are over. The Trump administration is indulging a religious hard right, helping it merge the politics of abortion and birth control into one.

There has long been a “pro-life” faction that extends its opposition to abortion to the very use of contraceptives. This is a tiny number of people. Only 4 percent of U.S. adults think contraception is immoral, according to Pew Research Center polling. Even among Catholics who attend Mass weekly, a mere 13 percent consider artificial contraception to be sinful.

Nonetheless, Donald Trump wants to divert money intended to help low-income women obtain birth control to clinics that refuse to provide birth control pills, intrauterine devices and even condoms — in other words, anything modern.

What they offer are instructions to track their periods and refrain from sex during their fertile times. They call it “natural family planning.”

The Mayo Clinic considers this method one of the least effective forms of birth control. “As many as 24 out of 100 women who use natural family planning for birth control,” it says, “become pregnant the first year.”

This is basically an effort to funnel money to a religious fringe. And it has some big enterprises to fund. Obria Medical Clinics, for one, now runs 22 clinics and is starting a $240 million campaign to open more. Obria offers only natural family planning.

“A woman needs choice,” said Obria CEO Kathleen Eaton Bravo, “but you can’t have a choice if the only clinic that a woman can go to is Planned Parenthood.”

Not true. Many clinics other than Planned Parenthood provide effective birth control but do not offer abortion services. And in any case, the law prohibits using federal funds to pay for abortion.

Bravo has this to say about hormonal birth control (the kind that really works): Women “don’t want to live every day having to take a carcinogen.”

That’s junk science. Hormonal birth control poses a “very, very small” added risk for breast cancer, according to Dr. Nancy Keating of Harvard Medical School. It’s much less than the risk associated with drinking three glasses of wine a week, and that is very low. Calling the pill, the ring, an IUD or a contraceptive implant a carcinogen is nuts.

Medical clinics should have every right to choose which services they offer. They shouldn’t have the right to take federal tax dollars for services they fail to provide.

Then there’s the sneak factor. Obria Medical Clinics advertises what looks like a wide range of women’s health services but does not say outright that the big one, modern birth control, is missing. Thus, women wanting real birth control wander in under false pretenses.

It takes a certain level of governmental insanity to make it harder for poor women to obtain birth control. We saw the results starting in 2011, when Texas cut state funding for family planning by 66 percent.

Women who had their acts together obtained inexpensive contraceptives through the mail (with prescriptions by Texas providers). Some drove to Mexico, where birth control is sold over the counter.

Less organized poor women simply got pregnant. After 2011, births by women on Medicaid rose 27 percent.

People may believe as they choose. But a government policy designed to make it harder for poor women to avoid having children they don’t want is off-the-wall on every level — medical, sociological and fiscal.

We in the vast majority shouldn’t have to be defending birth control in the year 2018. If you don’t want to, vote accordingly Nov. 6.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at


Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)