Between the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and states like Missouri exploring mandatory ultrasounds, it’s been a busy week. But even those events couldn’t overshadow the sheer outrageousness (or is it absurdity) of the comments Governor Mike Huckabee made about women.
True to form, the former governor of Arkansas, presidential candidate, and all around anti-women’s health politician, was speaking at the Republican Party’s winter meetings when he said that the Affordable Care Act’s provision giving women access to no-copay birth control as part of basic insurance coverage was created because women “cannot control their own libido.”
In fact, Huckabee said that Democrats tell women, “[T]hey are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government.”
We could fact check the governor on his misstatements about the benefit, but there are so many bigger problems to unpack. The problem isn’t so much what Governor Huckabee says, it’s what he and many of the politicians believe (coupled with the fact that he gets a platform to express these sexist and offensive comments). They need a lesson in basic anatomy, and perhaps a sex education course (which he couldn’t get in his own state, considering they cut sex education).
There’s a reason birth control was included as preventive health care under the Affordable Care Act (along with a slew of other benefits) — the nonpartisan Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended it. Birth control is covered as women’s preventive care because it is fundamental to improving not only women’s health, but the health of their families as well. And “Uncle Sugar” (is that a reference to a Sugar Daddy?) isn’t contributing a dime, it’s just included now as part of their private insurance coverage.
The fact that Huckabee doesn’t understand what birth control actually does is the perfect illustration of why decisions about women’s health should be left between a woman and her doctor — not politicians. Women use birth control for a wide range of health related reasons. In fact, 58 percent of women who use birth control use it for reasons other than preventing pregnancy.
What most members of the GOP in that room don’t understand is that birth control is an economic issue. With more than a third of female voters having struggled to afford prescription birth control at some point in their lives, the ability to access affordable birth control expands opportunities for women. It allows them to plan for their future and their family. In fact, research shows that birth control has helped women move closer to economic equity. And yet, Huckabee has the gall to suggest that by taking away access to this critical benefit, Republicans are waging “a war for women, to empower them to be something other than victims of their gender.”
The reality is Mike Huckabee and some members of Congress have a vision for this country that looks an awful lot like the 1950s. Governor Huckabee, if you really want to wage a war FOR women, you should be rethinking your position.