JERRY COX: The anti-abortionist is now coming after birth control pills. Brian Chilson

A legislative hearing this morning to improve access to birth control pills provides an illustration of a poorly kept secret — many of those in the anti-abortion movement don’t want women taking birth control pills either.

The House Public Health Committee this morning will take up Rep. Aaron Pilkington’s HB 1290 to allow trained pharmacists to dispense oral contraceptives — birth control pills — without a prescription.

A call to action comes from Jerry Cox, leader of the anti-abortion Family Council. He says birth control pills can have health complications (none so dangerous as child birth). He also writes:

According to the FDA, oral contraceptives also can cause the death of an unborn child. Oral contraceptives can alter the lining of the uterine wall. This can cause an unborn child to fail to implant properly inside the mother’s womb, which causes the woman to miscarry the child.

The fact that oral contraceptives can cause the death of an unborn child makes H.B. 1164 and H.B. 1290 a human life issue.

And there you have it: A birth control pill amounts to abortion. Never mind the dubious science here. Just note the larger mission: It’s embodied in lawsuits to prevent mandated health coverage for birth control pills. It’s embodied in efforts to cut off the flow of family planning money to Planned Parenthood clinics. It’s the embodiment of some church’s teaching. If you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex. Or at least count the days carefully. Ultimately, it’s about control of women’s bodies. And the belief that grown women are not capable of making that informed choice.

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When abortion is fully outlawed in states like Arkansas — and a procession of bills introduced this session are aimed at producing that de facto outcome — contraception will be next. See Jerry Cox.

UPDATE:  The bill received a do-pass this morning afrer vigorous debate.

Testimony this morning included opposition to the form of the bill from the Arkansas Medical Society, which said it supported open availability of contraception but said it had questions about training requirements and whether the fees imposed by a pharmacist might prove more expensive than seeing a doctor for a prescription. A doctor visit is also a time for other useful tests, the spokesman noted. Proponents defended the broadened access the bill would provide in a state where the majority of counties have no ob/gyns. Charisse Dean spoke for the Family Council (she’s also a member of the state Board of Education.) She was joined by Thelma Mouton, who seemed to suggest wider availability of birth control would encourage sex and thus increase the possibility for a sexually transmitted disease. She urged an education campaign to reduce teen pregnancy. Dean also said the pills could cause the death of an unborn child. Rep. Deborah Ferguson elicited from Dean her admission that he was opposed to oral contraception, period.

Rep. Deborah Ferguson spoke for the bill and noted the objections weren’t about pharmacists’ qualifications but about opposition to oral contraceptives, particularly in the case of the Family Council. She said more use of birth control would save the state money on Medicaid costs for pregnancies.

Contrary to what the Family Council asserted, Arkansas Right to Life was neutral on the bill. The voice vote for a do-pass, including from several legislators who emphasized their “pro-life” credentials, was solidly in favor. No roll call was requested.