Ladies, listen up.
Pat Fagan, a senior fellow at a political group called the Family Research Council has publicly stated that the Supreme Court decision to allow unmarried people to buy birth control was wrong. Not only that, but he also says that society should not allow sex before marriage.
Yes, that’s right. I didn’t make that up. He wants to use the legal and social system to deny you birth control and actually punish you for having premarital sex.
Luckily, the ability for us unmarried ladies to purchase birth control isn’t actually in danger of being outlawed—partially because of the Supreme Court ruling Eisenstadt v. Baird, which is precisely what Fagan called “the single most destructive decision in the history of the Court.”
But even without that precedent, most people today realize that of course women and men have the right to purchase and use contraceptives as free adults operating in a free market. The decision to have sex before marriage is solely theirs, as all private matters should be.
More than that, we reject the idea that just because some societies may have enacted laws in the past, doesn’t mean that those laws were good or just. It might be true that societies in the past have outlawed “adultery” (in which premarital sex is included), but those societies also denied women the vote, kept them locked in their homes, forbade them from taking jobs, allowed their husbands to beat them, rape them, abuse them. Should we re-enact those laws as well because that’s what “traditionally” has occurred?
I know what my answer is, and I hope that this would be the Family Research Council’s answer as well—Fuck no.
We realize that people—men and women— have individual rights. One of those rights is bodily autonomy, and that means having the right to have sex before marriage if we want to and to be able to purchase and use contraceptives in our own bodies as well. I promise; it really is that simple.
Because the right of women to get their own birth control is so obvious to us, it’s easy to ignore these statements. It’s pretty much only progressive sites that report on this (we found the story on ThinkProgress). But we ignore them to our detriment.
The Family Research Council can think and publish and say whatever they like. It is the job of organizations like ThinkProgress to point out that such a policy would have disastrous effects on family, health, and society at large, from skyrocketing teen birth rates to increase in STIs and HIV.
It’s libertarians’ job to say “No, society can’t tell people what they can and cannot buy on a free market. No, society cannot tell someone what they can do with their own body that does not directly harm others.”
Period. End of story. Libertarians, progressives, and even many conservatives can and should have a lot to say to the Family Research Council on this, but too many remain silent. Perhaps that is because we think their position too ludicrous to address. Perhaps we’d rather talk about drone policy. It doesn’t matter. Everyone who values individual autonomy should be decrying this.
When we remain silent, progressives identify the entire libertarian and right-wing movement as agreeing with people like Fagan. Women look at us as unwilling to fight for their rights. We need to take up these fights, not just to get the progressives and women on our side, but because it is right.