Shift in GOP views on use of birth control


Abby Kempf

Birth control and the GOP have not mixed well in the past, with several party members stating that enabling abortions would be their “worst nightmare.”
But societal views are ever-evolving, and even some of the religious right accept some new ideas as norms. The younger generation of high school republicans vastly agree that people should have access to birth control if they so desire, but many still aren’t keen on using them for themselves.
Senior Jack Knoesel, the president of RBHS Young Republicans, is one such teen. While he doesn’t think their use is morally sound, he believes everyone should be able to make their own decision regarding the use of birth control.
“I personally wouldn’t use them, but on a broad scale I don’t think it is my place to tell anyone how they should live their life,” Knoesel said. “But if it was my daughter I would say ‘you just shouldn’t be having sex and you wouldn’t need them.’ So in short, I personally don’t agree with their use in teens because I think that’s a little early to be having sex in the first place.”
But some conservative teens are branching even further, such as self-identified republican junior Sydney Tyler who is personally taking contraceptives. Although Tyler is not taking the pill to prevent pregnancy – she is using it alleviate symptoms of her menstrual cycle – she has no moral qualms with others using it for this purpose.
“I am in the process of getting birth control because my period makes me really sick, so bad that I miss at least one day of school a month. When I take birth control it isn’t preventing a pregnancy, it’s proactively treating serious health issues,” Tyler said. “But even if it was [preventing pregnancy], I honestly don’t have an issue with it.”
While many are adapting to the growing acceptance of contraceptives, the moral boundaries are still foggy to many Republican party members. The issue is difficult as the party adamantly refutes the institution of abortion, and some oral contraceptives can cause the termination of an unknown pregnancy.

There’s a pretty cheap alternative to that, just don’t have sex if you’re not ready for a kid,” Knoesel said. “and I don’t think an employer should have to foot the bill for someone’s sex life.”

A clause in the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, commonly known as Obamacare, states that all companies’ health insurance plans would have to cover the cost of birth control, to enable families and teenagers to properly family plan.
Many conservatives refute this clause, a reaction that can be seen in the recent Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores court case.
Hobby Lobby Stores did not want to provide their employees with birth control because it violated the Free Exercise Clause under the First Amendment by forcing them to commit a breach of their Christian faith. The Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby Stores citing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 as basis for their decision.
Knoesel sees the merit in Hobby Lobby Stores and the GOP’s objection to the Obamacare clause because it would force employers, with moral objections to birth control, to essentially pay for their employees to gain access to contraceptives.
“I think the reasoning behind that is that a common belief held by republicans in power is that the government shouldn’t be able to force someone to go against their beliefs and in the case of contraception, it isn’t something that is vital to ones health,” Knoesel said. “There’s a pretty cheap alternative to that, just don’t have sex if you’re not ready for a kid and I don’t think an employer should have to foot the bill for someone’s sex life.”
To solve this issue, several party members have opted to support a new platform that would allow birth control to become an over-the-counter drug and instead of a prescription only. This would essentially keep the members’ consciences clean and avoid the necessity to bar birth control from health care plans, and undoubtedly cause controversy.
While some republicans support this change, others such as republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp, who represents the 1st district of Kansas, remain adamant opponents of modern views on contraceptives. Huelskamp drafted the conscience clause, which would allow companies to not provide birth control in the health insurance plan they offer their employers.
Young Republicans sponsor Susan Lindholm sees the intentions behind the conscience clause as valid.
“I think they are trying to follow a Christian belief, so to me that’s okay. I think it is an employer’s discretion and they can offer it or not offer it.” Lindholm said. “I think let the free enterprise system decide whatever they want in that situation.”
When noting the difference, demographically at least, between right-wingers who support birth control and who don’t, the younger generation is wholly more accepting than their older counterparts.
“I think there is a definite shift,” Tyler said. “It’s just the society we’ve grown up in.”
Knoesel argues that this shift was inevitable because the basis to the opposition of birth control is religion. As anyone vested in politics knows, the first amendment outlines the freedom of religion, which severely weakens the notion by some republican politicians that birth control should be outlawed.
“In the constitution it outlines the separation of church and state and I think people see that you have to look objectively at an issue such as this,” Knoesel said. “[You can’t] let your religious beliefs intervene because you can’t have one religion dominating government because then you could see others’ right be infringed upon.”
By Abby Kempf