Confusing Abortion with Contraception

It has been over 50 years since American women have had birth control pills to help manage fertility and family planning, yet it seems that the battle for women’s body autonomy is still not over. The latest trend is to make not only abortion illegal but even contraception.

There are people out there who would like to equate the use of contraception with abortion, and of course equate both of these with murder. This is not just the Catholic Church talking, either, but also various Christian denominations leading the call. The president of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod, told a House committee on the subject: “We object to the use of drugs and procedures used to take the lives of unborn children,” referring not to abortion, but to contraception!

I may have inadvertently stepped into this with the article that my colleague,
L. Ariella Zeller, and I wrote in Lilith’s winter issue, “Abortions in Israel.” We mistakenly conflated RU 486 and the abortion pill. Monica Whitcher, former President of CHOICE: Campus Health Organization for Information, Contraception, and Education at Vassar College, corrected us in an email to Lilith’s editors, “RU486 is an abortion pill and terminates an established pregnancy. The morning after pill, by contrast, prevents pregnancy, either by preventing the sperm from entering the egg, or by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting into the uterus.”

I must admit that when Ariella and I wrote this article, I don’t think I was fully aware of how bad the social discourse on women’s fertility had gotten in the United States. Focused as we were on trends in Israel (where we both live), we were looking at the way attitudes and cultures inform public policy here. Certainly a married, fertile woman who wants an abortion for a healthy fetus is discouraged and frowned upon in Israel. But in the end she obtains a legal abortion: nobody stops her.

In the States, the threats to women’s future are much more intense, and more tangible than mere disapprobation.