Politico reported Wednesday morning that “Kellyanne Conway is going to Capitol Hill on Wednesday with a message for Republicans: Promote contraception or risk defeat in 2024.” Conway reportedly believes the Republican Party can persuade voters that they are not anti-woman by pushing pro-contraceptive messaging.
“This is a mistaken strategy,” warned Alexandra DeSanctis Marr, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Statistics actually suggest that increased access to birth control increases the abortion rate because it leads to more unplanned pregnancies.”
“[Kowtowing] to the Left by promoting abortifacients isn’t a winning GOP strategy,” tweeted Lauren Baldwin, government relations coordinator at the Conservative Partnership Institute. “American women deserve better than this.”
‘Women Will Be Caught in the Crossfire’
Pro-life groups have previously argued that to counteract the Left’s messaging on abortion—namely, that Republicans are extremist and are pushing pro-life policy because they want to control women—the GOP should focus on the joy of adoption, the lifesaving work of pro-life pregnancy centers, and the unique strengths of women and mothers.
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, for example, pushes Republicans not to “ostrich” it by ducking their heads into the sand when they are asked about abortion but instead to highlight their Democratic opponent’s extremism (given that Democrat politicians will often not name a single restriction on abortion that they will support).
Some, like “EWTN Pro-Life Weekly” host Prudence Robertson, fear that Conway’s strategy will only cause more harm to women and further embattle the GOP. Robertson called the idea a “damaging strategy” in a Wednesday tweet.
“Women will be caught in the crossfire for the sake of political wins,” she predicted. “Studies show skyrocketing rates of depression for women on birth control (73%). Not to mention this flies in the face of her [Conway’s] Catholic faith.”
Emma Waters, a research associate in The Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family, pointed to Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark Supreme Court case that struck down state laws outlawing birth control, even for married couples, pointing out that this case was decided only eight years before Roe v. Wade “wrongly allowed abortion.”
“Casual sex = unplanned pregnancies = more abortion,” she said, above a screenshot of the Politico story. “This is NOT the pro-life answer.”
National Review writer Madeleine Kearns warned that “a culture that treats unborn children as disposable begins by treating sexual partners as disposable.”
“You can’t curb the former by encouraging the latter,” she added.
EWTN News contributor Catherine Hadro slammed the strategy in a tweet citing the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute’s numbers on contraception.
“You want to focus in on it?” she asked. “OK. Here’s @Guttmacher’s own numbers, which reveal half of U.S. abortion patients used contraception the month they became pregnant. This is not a pro-life strategy.”
Pro-Contraception Messaging: Behind the Times?
Multiple female conservative professionals also pointed out that public sentiment on birth control is rapidly evolving given the high number of side effects that the drugs have on women’s bodies.
“This makes the GOP look even more out of touch,” tweeted National Review’s Caroline Downey, highlighting that there is “a growing Gen-Z [Generation Z] movement” to get off the pill.
“The list of potential risks for the pill is longer than a CVS receipt,” Downey added. “Blood clots, stroke, depression, low libido & more. And, birth control is big business, like abortion.”
NCAA athlete Macy Petty, who advocates for fairness in women’s sports, argued that women deserve better than birth control, saying: “Girls are told the answer to acne, painful periods, unplanned pregnancy is attacking our bodies with birth control chemicals that lead to infertility, mental illness, and more. I could list horror stories, including my own.”
Patricia Patnode, research fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, tweeted a clip of a comedian joking with women about how drastically their lives changed after they got off birth control, building off viral accounts of women breaking up with their boyfriends once they got off the pill.
“Conservatives should feel safe to attack the health impacts & coercive nature of birth control & the emergency contraceptive market like we do with abortion,” she said. “It’s bad. The culture is broadly on the side of science here.”
Carmel Richardson, an editor at The American Conservative, remarked that she finds it “wild” to see “older ‘conservative’ women still pushing birth control.”
“So many young women of my generation, regardless of their politics, have rejected the pill in favor of holistic health and natural cycles,” she said. “Hormonal drugs are not the way.”
And Sarah Wilder, a reporter for the Daily Caller, accused Conway of ignoring the dangers of birth control for political gain.
“Ironic that Republicans seeking to appear more pro-woman would do so by pushing a synthetic hormone that causes gut issues, heart attacks, depression, infertility, and a myriad of other side effects,” Wilder said. “Stop lying to women for political gain, Kellyanne.”
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