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The Dog Whistlers: The One Question the “Pro-life” Presidential Candidates Don’t Want You to Ask

Posted on December 10th, 2007 at 12:20 by John Sinteur in category: Indecision 2008 -- Write a comment


98 percent of American women have done it.

37 million Americans are currently doing it.

Most of the GOP candidates oppose it.

What is it?

If you said “sex,” you were close. The answer is “use contraception.” In recent weeks, the GOP candidates have been asked a lot about their views on abortion but not one has been asked his position on contraception (or even prevention in general). Really big oversight. Maybe its because everyone just assumes they all support contraception. After all, who doesn’t?

If their statements and actions are indicators, most of the GOP candidates oppose contraception. Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, and Fred Thompson all define life as beginning at conception or fertilization, in other words when sperm meets egg. (It’s worth noting that there’s no medical way of knowing when sperm meets egg. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a fertilized egg isn’t even considered a pregnancy.) This “life at fertilization” assertion is what is called in the business “dog whistle” politics: a political message only a specific constituency can hear. The reason, of course, to keep the message on one frequency, is that in most cases the issue is deeply unpopular with most of the American people. The candidate’s whistle, in this case, is a pledge to support the anti-abortion movement’s campaigns to roll back access to contraception.

If a candidate pledges to define life as beginning at fertilization, then anything that prevents implantation will end a life. And pro-lifers insist the pill does that. Birth control then becomes abortion, and as we know, abortion gets banned. Why hasn’t the media sunk its teeth into this little curiosity? At the very least, it would make for some really great TV. Someone needs to ask any of the GOP candidates (except Guiliani) whether he supports access to birth control. 91 percent of the American public (the majority of the pro-life public included) does so strongly.

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