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Mar 06 2013

DON’T TELL MY WIFE!

An organization called the Susan B. Anthony List — it’s an adamantly anti-choice group that has neatly named itself after an icon of women’s liberation — has a wonderful president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, who not only opposes abortion, but is dead set against contraception. She argues here that increasing availability of contraception leads to increasing rates of abortion (what?), apparently because all those frisky couples losing their fear of pregnancy will fornicate more, leading to more unwanted pregnancies.

But…but…abortion rates have been going down as pregnancy rates decline. We can’t therefore account for reduced pregnancy rates by claiming they’ve been terminated by abortion, and it seems kind of unlikely that people are having sex less often, so isn’t the correlation the reverse of what Dannenfelser claims?

teen-pregnancy-abortion-rates

Also, I am greatly concerned by the implications of the statement that “to lose the connection between sex and having children leads to problems”. There were precisely 3 periods in my life in which I intentionally had procreative sex, and they were both relatively brief because I married a fertile minx who got knocked up as soon as we both put our minds to it. So, maybe three months where I’ve had sex with reproductive intent, while the other 393 months of my married life I was entirely in frivolous sex-for-fun mode. Furthermore, we have not been the slightest bit interested in having more children for 23 years. Is Dannenfelser trying to suggest that having a monogamous and healthy sex life during those decades should be causing problems because we’ve lost the connection between sex and having children?

65 comments

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  1. 1
    Zeno

    Okay, so the actual statistical data show that Dannenfelser is totally wrong. Not a problem. She gets her information directly from God (or one of his minions). God’s never been too keen on reality.

    Dannenfelser reminds me uncomfortably of a middle-manager (now fortunately departed from our school district) who was unperturbed by clear statistical indicators that one of her pet programs was failing. “It’s only numbers,” she said.

  2. 2
    Louis

    PZ,

    Is Dannenfelser trying to suggest that having a monogamous and healthy sex life during those decades should be causing problems because we’ve lost the connection between sex and having children?

    1) Yes. No baby sex is Norty Secks™. It makes the Baby Jesus cry.

    2) You are Old™. Therefore it is officially Gross™ for you to be doing, you know, “thingy”.

    Frankly I am surprised there hasn’t been some sort of campaign.

    3) Facts. These are not things anti-abortionists are familiar with in anything but the most tenuous manner.

    4) Women were put on the earth by God-O-Saurus (because it’s cooler if he’s a dinosaur) to make little babies, preferably boys but not gay ones, to fight in armies against communists and brown people. If you do, you know, “thingy”, and don’t produce a soldier for God-O-Saurus to fight communists and brown people you are a Pervert™ and should be viewed with suspicion as you are Making America Weak. Your ineffective sperm go to heaven where they becomes swarms of midges that bother the righteous. Which is obviously Bad.

    Also, if you have, you know, “thingy”, and don’t have a baby, it’s possible you enjoyed it. Which could lead to dancing. Which is a sin.

    There don’t you feel better now you know the Truth?

    Louis

  3. 3
    Pteryxx

    There don’t you feel better now you know the Truth?

    Isn’t feeling better a sin?

    <_<

  4. 4
    mythbri

    @Louis #2

    Your ineffective sperm go to heaven where they becomes swarms of midges that bother the righteous.

    A better argument for masturbation I’ve never heard.

  5. 5
    Louis

    Pteryxx,

    In this case better = more holy, so not necessarily.

    Louis

  6. 6
    feralboy12

    A better argument for masturbation I’ve never heard.

    Masturbation produces half-babies, millions of them, which then go to limbo. It’s getting pretty full now, I understand. Full of cut-in-half babies, all scrunched in together.
    Hey, it’s theology. Just try not to think about it too much; leave that to the professionals.

  7. 7
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    This also ignores the fact that women who have unprotected sex and don’t have babies are having lots more early, silent spontaneous abortions than women who use contraceptives, especially The Pill, which prevents ovulation. As in sixty or a hundred times more.

  8. 8
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re 5:

    But, but, but, Onan tried and ‘something bad’ happened to him!

  9. 9
    robro

    I see that Louis is familiar with Southern Baptist theology. Dancing is the original sin. Have you seen the Southern Baptist dance? No? Good, because believe me, it’s a sin.

  10. 10
    mythbri

    It’s unfortunate to see that Dannenfelser apparently buys into the idea that sex is something that happens to women, that they are passive objects in which sex is practiced upon, and not something that women are capable of enjoying on their own terms.

    I wonder how she feels about homosexual couples (or triples, or more, if that’s your thing). There’s clearly no risk of an unwanted pregnancy.

  11. 11
    =8)-DX

    Don’t tell PZ’s WIFE! Because of course women only care about loving, marital, procreative intercourse. All those months she thought he was trying to have as many babies as possible, but as a silly man he failed to see she had that under wraps. Actually, PZ was have sex for sex’s sake, no girly, lovey, romantic fealings involved.

    I’m so happy I get this, now I’m an Older Person.

  12. 12
    =8)-DX

    Norty Secks™

    Oh. No. I just recently discovered Naughty Boy. I’ll be playing that album all of tomorrow! Dang you!

  13. 13
    Lou Doench

    I’m in PZ’s camp, Twice have I spent a tiny period of time trying to make the babies and both times we went at it like our German halves “Einz, Zwie machen das BB” (disclaimer… not actual Deutsche). And then there was the Grommet, who scoffed at out attempts to prevent his conception. So I had horribly painful operation to put a stop to all that. I’m assuming that Ms. Dannenfelser thinks all of the dirty dirty Zechs we are having now should be punished somehow..?

    Also, I don’t recognize the Louis person, but I like the cut of his Jib!

  14. 14
    Jadehawk

    it’s an adamantly anti-choice group that has neatly named itself after an icon of women’s liberation

    not inaccurately, unfortunately. Anthony and a number of the other famous suffragists were skeptical of abortion at best, and saw it as a symptom of the oppression of women (basically, late 19th century feminists felt about abortion similarly to the way late 20th century feminists feel about sex work)

  15. 15
    dianne

    I once asked a fundie, during a discussion of gay marriage, whether it was ok for my 82 year old grandmother to have sex to her newly married 81 year old husband. He (or maybe she, but I think it was a he) said yes, because it was, in principle, procreative sex since god COULD perform a miracle and make her pregnant. I declined to pursue the thought of a pregnant 82 year old and instead asked why god couldn’t also make one of a gay couple pregnant if he wanted to (miracles being miracles and it being immoral to put limits on god), thereby making it in principle procreative sex too. I can’t remember what answer I got, but I doubt that it was coherent.

  16. 16
    dianne

    Anthony and a number of the other famous suffragists were skeptical of abortion at best, and saw it as a symptom of the oppression of women

    Might have had to do with the mortality from abortion in the 19th century. Of course, the mortality from childbirth was pretty high too. I doubt that they’d be of the same opinion if they were alive today.

  17. 17
    mildlymagnificent

    I find this woman a bit perplexing. Is it or is it not within the scheme of the world as she sees it for post-menopausal women to have sex or not? At the moment I can see her argument being that potential grandparents are supposed to abstain for fear of breaking the world by having fun sex but once the woman is past menopause it’s all systems go? (I’m brave, me. I actually wrote that without damaging anything.) So what about people who’ve had hysterectomies and vasectomies or those who’ve never been able to conceive? All the sex, all the time – or never at all?

    Enquiring minds want to know ….. or perhaps not.

  18. 18
    sobe

    “to lose the connection between sex and having children leads to problems”

    Yes, namely: my uterus is a graveyard. Amirite?

    \sarcasm

  19. 19
    vaiyt

    “to lose the connection between sex and having children leads to problems”

    She doesn’t have to specify which problems, because her audience already knows that the act of sex without children itself is the supposed “problem”.

  20. 20
    Nerdette

    She argues here that increasing availability of contraception leads to increasing rates of abortion

    I’ve heard this from a young Catholic couple as well. It’s a very persuasive “factoid” in the anti-choice community. Never mind that it doesn’t make sense or that it requires evidence to support, but it’s not like they are a group interested in fact checking.

  21. 21
    Olav

    mildlymagnificent #17:

    Is it or is it not within the scheme of the world as she sees it for post-menopausal women to have sex or not?

    Not.

    In her scheme of the world: if it can’t result in pregnancy, why would anyone have sex with someone else. It’s not as if it ever could be enjoyable. And it’s a sin, anyway.

  22. 22
    Larry

    Never mind that it doesn’t make sense or that it requires evidence to support, but it’s not like they are a group interested in fact checking.

    They’re not too big on that whole cause-and-effect thingy, anyway. And evidence? Its just one more thing to ignore because… Jesus!

  23. 23
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Slightly OT, but what I find sad is that there are more teens giving birth than having abortions.

  24. 24
    Holms

    to lose the connection between [procreative] sex and having children…

    But but the majority of the time, we’re not talking about that / doing that at all; rather, it is almost always non-procreative sex. Once people start linking non-procreative sex with not having babies, then… well, we’re in present day reality with the added bonus of a happy sex life.

    CLEARLY THIS MUST END!

    @5 Louis

    In this case better = more holy, so not necessarily.

    Meaning, “God reserves the right to change his mind on a fucking whim with no rhyme nor reason; if this catches you off guard, that’s too bad – it’s a sin, you’re fucked unless you repent + donate to the collection plate”.

  25. 25
    SallyStrange

    I’m reminded of a piece of media that was making the rounds on facebook lately:

    WE SHOULD BAN LIFE JACKETS & OTHER FLOTATION DEVICES

    THEY ONLY ENCOURAGE RISKY BEHAVIOR. THE ONLY 100% EFFECTIVE WAY TO PREVENT DROWNING IS TOTAL ABSTINENCE FROM GOING IN THE WATER.

    and if you do, by chance, find yourself struggling with drowning, then no life-saving otherwise procedure or act should be allowed to be administered. you got yourself into this mess, you have to live with the consequences.

    YOU SHOULD SEE DROWNING AS A GIFT.

    ALSO IF YOU WERE FORCIBLY PUSHED INTO THE WATER, DON’T WORRY. IF IT WAS A LEGITIMATE PUSHING, YOUR BODY WILL FIND A WAY TO SHUT OUT ALL THE WATER AND SURVIVE THE DROWNING.

    original source: http//breanieswordvomit.tumblr.com/

    Sounds legit.

  26. 26
    marcus

    @13 Ah yes, Louis. Love the cut of his jib and the cut of his jibe as well. Warning!1!11!!
    Either cover your keyboard or refrain from imbibing liquids while reading his posts!
    You have been warned.

  27. 27
    Azuma Hazuki

    So, what “problems” does it cause? I’d argue the problems are the result of lack of respect for one’s partner, not specifically “not trying to conceive.”

    The one point she may have here is that if people see sex as “just getting my rocks off” there will be problems, but again, this is down to respect for your partner (and yourself!), not specifically having sex for purposes other than procreation.

  28. 28
    Graydon Saunders

    The core issue for a great many of the crazed natalists is “not enough white babies”. The opposition to abortion and contraception is the secondary, somewhat more publicly palatable, version of that.

    If you go back to the response to the availability of contraception in the late 19th (“race suicide!”) and early 20th, you see that as the primary fear very clearly.

    There’s also the small problem that the Pill is something _women_ take; and, lo, the usage rate for contraception women have the choice of using is higher than that for male-specific contraception. Which means the crazed natalists are much more against it.

  29. 29
    Monsanto

    There you go again, trying to confuse us with facts. Can’t you just accept the word of an eminent women’s rights leader like the rest of us?

  30. 30
    tbp1

    Although I disagree with them, I can sorta kinda see where anti-abortion people come from.

    However, opposition to contraception goes light years beyond being merely misguided and wrongheaded, it’s simply evil.

  31. 31
    otrame

    @13,

    Yeah, Louis hasn’t been around as much lately, but he is the bomb. And, yes, one should refrain from ingesting anything while reading his posts.

  32. 32
    RFW

    I’m old enough to remember when all packages of condoms included the statement “For the prevention of disease only”, hence their often being called prophylactics. This was true of Trojans bought from a drugstore, or any of the innumerable off-brands sold from coin operated vending machines in men’s restrooms in gas stations and bars.

    I can also tell you exactly when the condom came out of the closet: a late spring or early summer issue of Playboy in 1970 had a full page ad for Ramses. And the first time I saw condoms sold off the shelf instead of over the counter (that is, you didn’t have to ask the pharmacist for them) was in, of all the unlikely places, Brooks, Alberta in August 1972.

    But contraception itself stepped out into public a little earlier, 1965 or a little earlier: I remember the LA Times having an ad for Emko contraceptive foam. I think I still have a clipping of it around somewhere. Just once, with no repetitions.

    My point is that contraception was in bad odor officially until surprisingly recently

  33. 33
    Rumtopf

    I’ll have sexy, sexy sex in her honour, with contraception of course. Like I have been doing with my partner of five years with no pregnancies yet. If any eggs manage to get fertilised, despite the implant and condoms, the resulting embryo will be named Houdini and (hopefully)donated to stem cell research.

  34. 34
    smhll

    I shouldn’t be obsessed with this, but I want to ask for rulings on those tricky corner cases. A couple who currently has a bun in the oven — if they have sex is that naughty sex, or does the halo of gestation give them a free pass? Second case — if a person is ‘naturally’ infertile (mumps?) presumably by ‘God’s will’, then is it wrong for that person to have sex?

  35. 35
    John Pieret

    … while the other 393 months of my married life I was entirely in frivolous sex-for-fun mode

    Mazel tov!

  36. 36
    bunkie

    Hi. My name is Bunkie and I’m a dirty fornicator.

  37. 37
    carlie

    “to lose the connection between sex and having children leads to problems”

    Spoken like a woman who has never, ever had an unwanted pregnancy scare.

  38. 38
    Jadehawk

    Might have had to do with the mortality from abortion in the 19th century.

    I’d like to think so, but given that they refer to it as “infanticide” and “the horrible crime of child-murder”, I’m skeptical.

  39. 39
    cgilder

    I feel like I’m just trying to find a way to redeem these early suffragists from their anti-abortion views, but could the “infanticide” label come from the fact that at that point in medical science you couldn’t really confirm a pregnancy until 2-3mo in, at the earliest? Having miscarried a 16week fetus, they are obviously human-looking at that point, not just a clump of cells anymore, so I could see where some of the revulsion might come in if abortions were mostly happening in the 2nd trimester.

  40. 40
    bad Jim

    Actually, I can think of a case in my family in which losing the connection between sex and procreation became a problem. My niece & her husband didn’t want kids, so he had a vasectomy. Many years later she changed her mind, and eventually managed to change his. Unfortunately this turned procreation into a medical procedure, painful for both though worse for her, I guess (neither complained) and she delivered a healthy, delightful matched pair.

    I’m just waiting for the day one of their parents transfixes them with a basilisk stare and tells them, “You aren’t natural children! You were born in a test tube!” They’ll probably just think that’s cool.

  41. 41
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    The one point she may have here is that if people see sex as “just getting my rocks off” there will be problems, but again, this is down to respect for your partner (and yourself!), not specifically having sex for purposes other than procreation.

    Where does contraception come into that?
    Actually, quite some unwanted pregnancies start with him talking her out of condoms because he thinks that his desire for un-condomed sex is more important than her desire not to get pregnant. That doesn’t exactly spell “respect” to me.

    +++
    As for her “argument”: Look around your family. Compare wedding dates and birth dates of first children. Do the math. Tell me how exactly lack of contraception and abortion services kept people from fucking.

  42. 42
    LykeX

    But, but, but, Onan tried and ‘something bad’ happened to him!

    That one has always bothered me. If you actually read the damn story, it’s clear that Onan’s sin wasn’t masturbation, it was violating the law; a law that never prohibits masturbation anywhere. His sin was to refuse to help a family member in need. His sin was greed and lack of compassion.

    Hell, Onan wasn’t even masturbating at all. It was coitus interruptus. It’s clear as day, if you actually read the text. But of course, most Christians can’t be bothered to actually read the bible.

  43. 43
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Louis #2

    *Tears of Laughter* You, sir, are a genius :)

  44. 44
    Olav

    Carlie #37:

    “to lose the connection between sex and having children leads to problems”

    Spoken like a woman who has never, ever had an unwanted pregnancy scare.

    Or perhaps she has. I would not rule out that she might be a very traumatised person.

  45. 45
    llyris

    @42 LykeX. I know this one. When I was Christian I was told that if I had an interpretation other than what the pastor said it was because I wasn’t smart or educated enough to understand it properly and I should go and meditate on it (until I agreed with the established interpretation). Cherry picking verses is the correct way to read the babble. Ahem.

  46. 46
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    God-O-Saurus (because it’s cooler if he’s a dinosaur)

    God-O-Saurus REX, you mean. He’s the king of all imaginary deity dinosaurs.

  47. 47
    Jackie

    Losing the connection between sex and procreation = women being able to enjoy sex

    I think that is what these people find dangerous.

  48. 48
    arakasi

    I’m just waiting for the day one of their parents transfixes them with a basilisk stare and tells them, “You aren’t natural children! You were born in a test tube!” They’ll probably just think that’s cool.

    I would be pissed that they didn’t add gills or anything cool like that while I was in the test tube. OK, I’d also be peevedthat they didn’t fix the whole hair loss issue, but that’s another discussion.

  49. 49
    dianne

    Maybe Dannenfelser doesn’t like sex much and is looking for an excuse not to be sexually active, but doesn’t think she’s allowed to say “No, I don’t want to”.

  50. 50
    dianne

    Onan wasn’t even masturbating at all. It was coitus interruptus.

    Uh oh. Isn’t coitus interruptus one of the “natural” birth control methods approved by the Catholic church? If Yawah is real after all there are going to be a lot of people in big trouble…

  51. 51
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re 42:

    Hell, Onan wasn’t even masturbating at all. It was coitus interruptus. It’s clear as day, if you actually read the text. But of course, most Christians can’t be bothered to actually read the bible.

    BINGO! You got it! I was wondering if anyone would catch that error. Yes, regardless of what Onan was actually guilty of, as recorded, explicitly, in the ‘inerrant’ Bible. Language has coined the word “onanism” as a euphemism for “masturbation”, not coitus interruptus. That is what I was referring to, as I have never actually read the story myself, just stories about the story. That’s why I said “something bad happened to him”, I don’t even know what supposedly happened.
    Geewizz, sorry for the distraction, not to be onanistic or anything…

  52. 52
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re 50:

    Uh oh. Isn’t coitus interruptus one of the “natural” birth control methods approved by the Catholic church?

    Maybe, but when I was raised Catholic (way back in the last century (the 60′s)) they taught us the only method was “the rhythm method”. To only have sex the week around menstruation to avoid those pesky ova seeking to be fertilized.

  53. 53
    lorn

    By offering an obviously flawed argument that the disconnect between sex and conception offered by birth control is a hazard Dannenfelser has made a convincing case, albeit an anecdotal one, that a lack of sex causes impaired brain function.

  54. 54
    scienceavenger

    Yet another twit whose time machine I’d like to borrow when she gets back from the 1930′s. What’s next, lamenting the loss of the connection between having babies and dying?

  55. 55
    David Marjanović

    Maybe Dannenfelser doesn’t like sex much and is looking for an excuse not to be sexually active, but doesn’t think she’s allowed to say “No, I don’t want to”.

    I fear you’re right; it wouldn’t surprise me.

    Uh oh. Isn’t coitus interruptus one of the “natural” birth control methods approved by the Catholic church?

    I’m pretty sure it’s not. Only rhythm/temperature.

  56. 56
    David Marjanović

    a lack of sex causes impaired brain function

    There are asexual people (estimated at 1 % of the population), and there’s no evidence from them for your claim…

  57. 57
    dianne

    Dannenfelser has made a convincing case, albeit an anecdotal one, that a lack of sex causes impaired brain function.

    I’d rather not go there. This argument sounds too much like “all you need is to have sex with a REAL man to like it” or “uptight feminists just need a good sexing”.

  58. 58
    Azuma Hazuki

    Regarding Onan, what made his refusal to impregnate the woman specifically horrifying and evil (to the people of the time; this is VERY cultural) was that he refused to give the dead husband children. This is “Levirate marriage.”

    This is a recurring theme (see Ruth/Boaz for example) in the OT, and it speaks to some…well, not very Christian interpretations of the afterlife. As I understand it, the point of having children in this context is to keep your memory alive so that you do not slip into lower Sheol and vanish. Hence why the Levirate marriage is important; no children means the childless man will be “cut off from among his bretheren.”

    Source: Rick Lannoye’s “Hell No” (which i cannot for the life of me find anywhere online, but will post my copy somewhere if asked).

  59. 59
    DLC

    The woman has the eyes of a fanatic. Someone who’s been convinced of a certain course and will not stray from that course regardless of evidence to the contrary or reason or logic.

  60. 60
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ Lou Doench #13

    Also, I don’t recognize the Louis person, but I like the cut of his Jib!

    A chap!

  61. 61
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ Azuma

    That is an interesting new angle.

    .

    Here is R.Crumb’s version of events: Link

    And the Brick Testament’s. Link

  62. 62
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    PS: I find the whole idea of Er [the dead husband] going to heaven a bit odd :

    And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him. – Genesis 38:7

    … and wicked people like us burn in hell for eternity.

  63. 63
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Uh oh. Isn’t coitus interruptus one of the “natural” birth control methods approved by the Catholic church?

    No, only the rythm method. Because sperm must not go anywhere except in the vagina.

    Onan
    Giving the dead brother children would also have meant that those children would inherit the brother’s posessions and allowed the widow to keep her status.

  64. 64
    kaleberg

    Re: “… I married a fertile minx who got knocked up as soon as we both put our minds to it.”

    Not exactly minds.

  65. 65
    lopsided

    Did these groups ALWAYS openly admit they were agasint contraception and I just didn’t notice until 2010, or is this new? I didn’t realize, I mean I knew they were against sex ed in school but for adults?

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