Is the President For Or Against Birth Control? Congress Members Ask

Nineteen members of Congress have sent a leader to President Bush asking him to clarify his position on contraception. Led by Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), they seek an answer to a question White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan refused to answer on May 26. At the press briefing, when asked about the President’s position on birth control, McClellan replied, “I think the President’s views are very clear when it comes to building a culture of life…and if you want to ask those questions, that’s fine. I’m just not going to dignify them with a response.”

“The President demonstrates yet again how out of touch he is with mainstream America. Contraception is one of the keys to ensuring that abortion is a choice that is rare. There should be absolutely no ambiguity,” said Wasserman Schultz. Maloney pointed out the importance of a clear statement, saying “If the President cannot respond to a simple question on whether he is opposed to birth control, then women’s access to birth control is at risk.” In the letter, the members of Congress urge the President to take a clear stand on contraception, saying “responsible men and women need the President to stand up in support of their rights to contraception, not to shy away from the issue.”

Ninety-five percent of American women will use birth control at some time in their lives, and a new Supreme Court Justice could alter the Court’s position on the right to privacy, on which the rights to abortion and birth control rest. The right to privacy is also fundamental in ensuring women’s equality. “Doctrines of privacy and equality for women are simply not separable: Eroding one imperils the other,” writes Ellen Chesler in Ms. magazine’s Urgent Report on the Looming Fight Over the Supreme Court. “And all this rests on the shoulders of just one new justice.”

LEARN MORE Read Ms. magazine’s Urgent Report on the Looming Fight Over the Supreme Court

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Feminist Daily News 6/7/05; Letter to President Bush, 7/12/05; Press Briefing by Scott McClellan 5/26/05; Press Release, Office of Carolyn Maloney 7/14/05; Ms magazine Summer 2005

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