How to Shake Up the Presidential Debates: Ask About Contraception

December 11, 2007

Writing at the Huffington Post, Cristina Page offers these statistics:

98 percent of American women have done it.

37 million Americans are currently doing it.

Most of the GOP candidates oppose it.

What is it?

If you said “sex,” you were close. The answer is “use contraception.” In recent weeks, the GOP candidates have been asked a lot about their views on abortion but not one has been asked his position on contraception (or even prevention in general). Really big oversight. Maybe its because everyone just assumes they all support contraception. After all, who doesn’t?

Give yourself a star if you answered correctly. You’re ahead of the media.

Page, author of “How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics and the War on Sex” and spokesperson for Birth Control Watch, notes that six of the candidates define life as beginning at conception or fertilization — the sperm meets egg argument.

“This ‘life at fertilization’ assertion is what is called in the business ‘dog whistle’ politics: a political message only a specific constituency can hear. The reason, of course, to keep the message on one frequency, is that in most cases the issue is deeply unpopular with most of the American people,” adds Page. “The candidate’s whistle, in this case, is a pledge to support the anti-abortion movement’s campaigns to roll back access to contraception.”

Plus: Check out BCW’s 7 Questions in 2007 — what every member of the House and Senate should be asked about birth control, contraception and sex education.