Salon readers sound off on emergency contraception, conservative pharmacists, and why the world needs more condoms.

Published April 28, 2005 8:00AM (EDT)

[Read "The Battle Over Birth Control," by Gretchen Cook.]

Gretchen Cook's article illustrates what I have long believed: The "right to life" movement, as promoted by such organizations as ALL, is not about the rights of the "unborn," but about controlling women's sexual lives with the ultimate goal of controlling all areas of women's lives.

If these groups were truly interested in eliminating abortion, they would be clamoring for extensive sex education and access to safe, effective birth control for both men and women.

-- Christine Worsthorn

The misogynistic nature of this new push to keep women from having control over their lives is evident in the contrasting lack of furor over Viagra and like drugs that actively encourage sexual activity.

Even I am embarrassed by ads for drugs like these -- and embarrassed for Bob Dole, a Republican icon, who blithely shills this dick-stiffener without a clue as to the hypocrisy of it all. The implication is that men can have all the sex they want, but women, by preventing unwanted pregnancies, are somehow immoral.

We all know that men and women are abusing Viagra as a sexual stimulant. I think it's far more effective at promoting sexual activity among unmarried people than the private taking of a daily pill that keeps women free from pressures of unplanned family responsibilities.

-- Leslie Owen

I am distressed by all the reports that I have been hearing concerning pharmacists refusing to fill birth control prescriptions. One way to mitigate or eliminate this problem would be to publish on the Web a list of pharmacists who refuse to fill contraceptive prescriptions. Ideally, this list would be searchable and would help prevent those persons who go to pharmacies from having their prescriptions held hostage by fundamentalist pharmacists who refuse to transfer the prescription to another pharmacy. It would also help to place pressure on pharmacies to prevent this type of behavior; Big Pharma would be none too pleased with pharmacies that hire pharmacists who refuse to sell one of its star performers to repeat customers.

-- Bryan Short

Gretchen Cook's article about the religious right's attempt to block access to emergency contraception propagates a falsehood that comes straight out of anti-choice propaganda.

In her first paragraph, Cook states that physicians believe that emergency contraception works by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg. In fact, there is overwhelming scientific evidence that emergency contraception, especially Plan B, prevents the fertilization of an egg by altering ovulation, sperm motility, or the sperm's ability to fertilize an egg. Several studies have shown that Plan B has absolutely no effect on the endometrium or on implantation of a fertilized egg, and no published scientific study supports the contention that Plan B affects implantation.

Pro-choice advocates should be more careful not to allow the propaganda of the religious right to inform their scientific opinions. In doing so, Cook has unwittingly lent credibility to their dangerous position.

-- David Magilner

A comment about the final sentence of this article: I would have answered yes to the pollster about my religious faith influencing my vote; I'm a white, female, and a minister. But the way it influences my vote is very different from the way faith influences those on the religious right. Please don't report a number like that as if it represents one monolithic set of beliefs.

-- Robin Schreiber

As a resident of a country where the debate on contraception and abortion was settled long ago, I find it fascinating to read the coverage of these issues both in Salon and other American media.

Here, the over-the-counter morning-after pill was announced with widespread but matter-of-fact media coverage. The Canadian public has told its politicians again and again that these types of issues are for the individual woman to decide. Politically speaking, they're a non-starter.

On the other hand, south of the border, most Americans have no idea what forces are in play to prevent them from making decisions about their own bodies and their own reproduction.

I ask you, why aren't people more upset about this? For a country that prides itself on the principles of freedom and democracy, what will have to happen for this to be taken seriously? I just don't get it.

-- [name withheld]

We think we have it bad, but women elsewhere in the world are really suffering. There is a $100 million shortfall in family planning commodities. The world needs 10 billion condoms a year; it only produces 3 billion. Bush's gag rules and funding restrictions have caused more abortions than all of his preaching has prevented.

Americans should keep track of this stuff and take a stand by supporting the grassroots organizations that work to address this problem. We American women can fight back. The women of the world can't.

-- Jane Roberts

By Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------