MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin — Republicans have gone to great lengths to cast the war on contraception and women’s health as a matter of religious liberty, but literature handed out at a key conservative conference this weekend had an unambiguous message for women: don’t use birth control.
Americans For Prosperity (AFP), a conservative Koch-funded organization, held its Defending The American Dream Summit in Milwaukee on Saturday with a few major headline speakers: Rick Santorum, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). All three insisted that the Obama administration’s rule requiring insurance companies to cover contraception actually had nothing to do with contraception, but rather was an attack on religious liberty.
The next room from where they spoke, however, featured a bevy of literature warning women about the supposed dangers of birth control and telling them that “Chastity is the best choice for single people.” One handout explained that contraception is unnecessary because “Saving yourself for your future spouse is guaranteed to prevent pregnancy before marriage.” Another answered the question “Is it safe?” with a simple “No.” The literature on emergency contraception warned that it could cause cancer before telling women simply, “Be good to yourself. Don’t use the morning-after pill.”
The literature in question was not produced by AFP — the American Life League did the honors — but the Koch-backed group allowed space to hand it out to the 1,000 conservative activists in attendance.
A week ago, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) pleaded with those in his party to “get off” the war on women. If a major conservative group disseminating literature attacking women’s reproductive health at its star-studded convention is any indication, the former GOP presidential nominee’s call is being completely ignored. With 70 percent of women agreeing that President Obama’s contraception requirement is a matter of women’s health, continuing to attack birth control could spell disaster for Republicans in the fall.