Fishing for an Anti-Birth Control Ploy

I’m not often amused by the antics of anti-choice activists. But hearing about their sudden conversion to environmentalism sent me into howls of laughter.

In a transparently opportunistic move, the American Life League and 26 other anti-choice groups announced their latest action, “Protest the Pill Day 2010: The Pill Kills the Environment.” They cite the presence of “intersex” fish (male fish with both male and female sex organs) in various areas of the world as evidence that birth control pills are killing our environment.

“How long will we stand by and ignore the fact that hormonal contraception wreaks havoc on our children, women’s health and the planet?” asked Judie Brown, president of American Life League. The American Life League is a Catholic organization that opposes all forms of contraception, as do many anti-choice groups. But now they think that gender-bending fish will be the hook that reels in environmentalists to their cause.

Of course they fail to mention other chemicals–called endocrine disruptors–that exist in these same waters, such as human and veterinary drugs (including antibiotics), non-prescription drugs, caffeine, detergents, disinfectants, plasticizers, fire retardants, insect repellants and antioxidants. They also fail to mention that these chemicals are found downstream of wastewater treatment plants.

I became curious about how committed the anti-choice movement is to the environment and human health so I looked at some pending legislation that would help clean up our water. Of particular relevance to the issue is the Endocrine Disruption Prevention Act of 2009 (HR 4190 and S 2828). Introduced by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the bill would authorize the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to:

… conduct a research program on endocrine disruption, to prevent and reduce the production of, and exposure to, chemicals that can undermine the development of children before they are born and cause lifelong impairment to their health and function and for other purposes.

So far, all the co-sponsors are pro-choice Democrats. Yet supporting it would seem to be a natural for people who purport to be worried about fetuses, women, children and the environment.

“This issue affects human health and is a real crisis, that needs to be investigated,” said Emily Blout, spokesperson for Rep. Moran. She said she was surprised that anti-choice groups have chosen to focus on birth control pills when there are so many other chemicals released into our water supply that are potentially more harmful to human health. While Rep. Moran has reached out to anti-choice colleagues, hoping they would support this critical issue, he’s had no bites so far.

Another bill, HR 5320, introduced by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), would go a long way to ensure safe drinking water. The Assistance, Quality, and Affordability Act (AQUA, get it?) would be an important source of funding for U.S. public water systems that are dealing with aging infrastructure.

Rather than calling for 100 million women to abandon the birth control pill, anti-choice groups could be demonstrating a true concern for women, children, fetuses and the environment by lobbying their anti-choice legislators to get on board with efforts to clean up our water. Pro-choice activists, too, should contact legislators and urge them to pass Endocrine Disruption Prevention Act and AQUA. It’s about more than intersexed fish.

Above: Image from Creative Commons, attribution 3.0 unported


  1. How interesting that right after the Pill celebrates 50 years there are protests against it being set up. We need to stop feeding peopl lies about the Pill. If women didn’t want the pill, whether it was hurting our environment or own bodies, then why is it one of the most popular contraceptives out there?

  2. Bonnie K says:

    Intersexed fish (as well as other intersexed animals) are pretty common. This is not to suggest that pharmaceuticals and other chemical aren’t wreaking havoc on wildlife, but it seems to me that part of their argument is based on heteronormativity (that is, to put simply) that male and female binaries ARE natural). Are the fish in question ones that have been known to be intersexed (and prior to current levels of pollution)?

    Talk about adding conservative politics to conservative politics.

    Thanks for uncovering it, Carol. The strident anti choicers try to
    outshout logic with their supposedly spiritual intent, but their
    claims are, as usual, skewed.

  4. This is such a good example of how people will choose some issues to focus on and completely ignore other relevant issues, simply for the sake of their personal agenda. And now these people are using the environment because they know it’s become a popular topic. Sick. (This tactic reminds me of another article I just read–

    Thanks for posting, and thanks for using the term “anti-choice,” because so many people, feminists too, still use the misleading “pro-life.”

  5. it’s interesting that these anti-choice activists want to take away the choices of other women because of their own personal religious beliefs.. but if you asked any of them to stop using insect repellants or fertilizer on their lawns, they would claim only low life people have lawns with weedy grass, and it is just unacceptable to appear messy and uncivilized. and they would claim they have the freedom to make their lawns as green as possible. Maybe they should consider the negative effect that large families have on the eviornment. To be frank, people live too long, and families have too many kids (for what..hard work in the fields? oh wait, most people aren’t farmers these days). We are using up our resources, building subdivisions all over the place, and forcing more and more toxins into our water–not only affecting what we drink, but also creating birth defects/death in plants/animals/etc. i think we are damn lucky that many couples and women respect the need for birth control–not just to give women more freedom over their bodies, but to help save resources,space, and the enviornment we want our (1 or 2) children to enjoy in the future.

  6. alisonbridget says:

    I think it’s interesting that people against the pill have to keep re-inventing their idea of why the pill shouldn’t be available, but has our side (the side that believes in birth control) ever changed? No. That would be because our views are strong and with hold-it’s a personal choice (no one is being forced to take the pill), and should be allowed for everyone.

  7. Well Ms King you will surely be amused bythe article Jill Stanek wrote for Big Journalism on this topic. In it she writes:

    “But King is ignoring or is ignorant of the fact that waste estrogen from the Pill is also leaching into human drinking water. A 2008 Associated Press investigation found estrogen among a “vast array of pharmaceuticals” in “the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas – from Southern California to Northern New Jersey, from Detroit to Louisville,” affecting “at least 41 million Americans.””

    Like the way she words that? Her flock of sheep will take that to mean Holy cow! estrogen was in the drinking waters of 24 major metroplitan areas! No kids, it means that estrogen was found in at least one …. and in minute amounts. No one knows how widespread nor severe an issue this is. Extreme prolifers like Stanek and her ilk are against the Pill because women are meant to have as many babies as God intends. Period. Since when do they even care about the environment. For Pete’s sake most of them think this planet was created for us (thousands of years ago!) and Global Warming? Well that’s just a big fat lie. Drill baby drill!

  8. Jacquy Griffith says:

    The list of endocrine disruptors left out the largest category: pesticides, including herbicides and fungicides!

  9. Back in my college days, someone posted inaccurately typed posters with this information on it all over campus, mostly in women’s bathrooms. I almost laughed, but realized it wasn’t a joke…just another pathetic attempt to erode choice and enforce idiocy.

  10. Barbara Lieb says:

    I am laughing with you on this one. They will do anything to push their agenda.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nonpartisan Feminism, mtbchik. mtbchik said: 2010 or 1910??? Argh! […]

  2. […] comes Carol King at the Ms. magazine blog, who’s “amused” by the pro-life side’s “antics” to draw attention to the […]

Speak Your Mind


Error, no Ad ID set! Check your syntax!