No, not a red herring

Whatever else you might call it, abortion is a form of birth control.  Not however, according to Americans United for Life President Charmain Yoest.  Here she is (via Think Progress):

HOST: Is your organization in favor of helping women have more access to birth control and helping women have their birth control paid for by insurance?

YOEST: That’s actually not an issue that we address. We on life issues, on biotheics, on abortion, on end of life, on rights of conscience, but we do not address that issue because there are differences of opinion on that. […]

HOST: But I’m just curios, why not approach birth control as an issue if the goal is to reduce abortions, to make abortion unnecessary, birth control does that. Wouldn’t that be an interesting addition to your legal pallet?

YOEST: Well, as I said, there is an awful lot of issues that can be addressed and we stay really focused to this question of abortion itself. It’s really a red herring that the abortion lobby likes to bring up, conflating abortion and birth control and that’s why we try to stay very clear on differentiating between the two. Because frankly that would be carrying water on the other side.

It's hard to know how to respond to this, other than to say this person has little interest in reality and ought therefore to be laughed at.  Abortion, for the people who support its availability, is, in the most objectionable cases (for Yoest), a form of birth control.  There are other, less murderous (in her mind) forms of birth control, so it would seem that supporting them, rather than not supporting them, would not be unreasonable.

This would not be unreasonable, unless of course your real interest lies in objecting to all forms of birth control–which seems the only reasonable way to interpret her.  At least that way she' s not inconsistent, or dumb.  It's really after all a question of charity.

3 thoughts on “No, not a red herring”

  1. I think pro-life people who also oppose birth control, do so for different reasons and so it's a different issue. Political organizations in order to avoid to remain effective have to limit the scope of their advocacy. An anti-global warming group might not take a position on the use of Nuclear power in order to remain unified, (since environmentalists are split on the use of Nuclear power). 

  2. OK, I'll try to work out a charitable interpretation of the 'red herring' line.  I don't think it's defensible, but it is at least coherent. Here goes.
    Yoest was getting ahead of herself.  That happens when speaking.  Especially in interviews.  There are two issues she's trying to address.  First is whether her organization should be supporting birth control of the more mundane forms (like condoms).  Second is whether abortion should be termed a form of birth control.
    I think the way she's responding is to say: the first issue is a red herring, as the question of whether she should promote other forms of birth control is irrelevant to whether abortion is wrong and should be outlawed.  The second issue is one of back-door creeping for the abortionists.  Surely nobody denies that killing fetuses is also birth control.  The question is whether it is morally acceptable birth control.

  3. Coherent, maybe (but I still doubt it), but not defensible.  In opposing that particular form of birth control as morally unacceptable, they also take the position that ccess to other forms of birth control as morally unacceptable.  It makes sense to ask–and is not a red herring I think–whether they oppose birth control tout court or just morally unacceptable forms of birth control.  And then of course what makes morally unaccpetable forms of birth control morally unacceptable.  Natural to think there could be a distinction there.  They could just go full on Roman-C and object to all of that.  But, if they did that, I think, very few even Roman-Cs would endorse their views. (how's that for an STQQ).

    But on this one I think Ben is right.  Many of them oppose birth control, and they don't want to split the coaltion.

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