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The War on Birth Control That Wasn't

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Trump’s (imagined) reversal: Trump backtracks after suggesting he’s open to states restricting birth control access,” reads a Washington Post headline from yesterday. Just one issue: A closer read of the presidential contender’s statements does not indicate any serious plan to go after birth control.

“I HAVE NEVER, AND WILL NEVER ADVOCATE IMPOSING RESTRICTIONS ON BIRTH CONTROL, or other contraceptives,” former President Donald Trump wrote on Truth Social, which The Washington Post claims was a “reversal of comments” he made to reporters in Pittsburgh.

“Things really do have a lot to do with the states, and some states are going to have different policy than others,” Trump had said, in response to a question about whether he supported states’ restrictions on birth control access, including the morning-after pill.

Nothing about this seems particularly controversial. Trump’s words were nonspecific and handwavey, with hints of federalism, but they became yet another way to ding the widely-reviled candidate. (“Trump Opens Door to Birth Control Restrictions, Then Tries to Close It,” reads a New York Times headline; “Trump Says He’s ‘Looking At’ Restricting Contraception Access,” reads one from Rolling Stone.) All of this comes on the heels of an effort by Democrats in the Senate to pass the Right to Contraception Act, which the Times describes as a ploy to “[force] G.O.P. lawmakers to go on the record with their opposition to policies with broad bipartisan support.”

Extremist base? “The truth is that Republicans and Donald Trump’s extremist base don’t want the Right to Contraception Act to pass,” said Sen. Edward Markey (D–Mass.) on Tuesday. “That’s going to be very clear to voters in the fall.” But Senate Republicans have blocked this bill in the past (when it was proposed by Markey, who wanted it to pass quickly without debate or a vote), “arguing that the bill’s definition of contraceptives could be interpreted to include pills that induce abortion.” That’s very different than wanting to ban basic hormonal birth control, which is what headlines and grandstanding senators would have you believe.

Meanwhile, some senators—Alabama’s Katie Britt and Texas’ Ted Cruz—are attempting to make states ineligible for Medicaid funding from the federal government if they ban in vitro fertilization (IVF), which scrambles the attempted narrative a bit. (“IVF is incredibly pro-family,” Cruz said this week.)

Still, to take Markey’s comments at face value, it’s worth asking: Who are these purported extremists? Do they actually exist in large numbers?

Per 2016 polling, about 4 percent of Americans see contraception as morally wrong. The greatest opposition tends to come from Catholics, but even among Catholics who attend Mass weekly (guilty as charged), only 13 percent say contraception is morally wrong—and that doesn’t even mean they support a ban on the practice. (Some 20 percent of people ID themselves as Catholics nationwide, per 2024 polling, with only 28 percent of them attending Mass weekly—not a group that looks positioned to amass much political power, in other words.)

Many women want the ability to use the pill, implants, and IUDs. But it’s also worth noting that another form of birth control is commonly used: condoms! Which you can get via DoorDash, Amazon Prime (one-day delivery), pharmacies, or grocery stores. You can even use a subscription service for posh “vegan-friendly” condoms “designed without harmful chemicals and triple tested for safety” (the product is cheekily called “rise” which feels stupid and classy all at once, just like so many millennial-targeted direct-to-consumer brands).

Even if Republicans were seeking to ban the birth control pill en masse or hassle doctors who insert IUDs—which they’re not—we’re far from a sex dystopia. Democrats are trying to tie the birth control issue to the abortion one, acting like Republicans broadly have a problem with both, when reality is actually…better for their case (and worse for their campaign strategy). Most Republicans oppose abortion, which they see as the killing of an unborn child, but do not oppose the prevention of pregnancies, which they see as something that stops abortions from happening.

Galaxy-brain take: It’s really the Food and Drug Administration, not radical Republicans, which has been standing in the way of birth control access for many years now but is just now beginning to approve over-the-counter hormonal contraceptives.

Scenes from New York: OK, since there’s a shockingly large libertarian-NBA fan crossover, I simply must cater to my favorite demographic even if it has little to do with, you know, freedom. The season just ended for the Knicks (at the hand of the Indiana Pacers), and there are a few big takeaways worth noting for those who observe.

“The biggest thing that happened this season, and maybe the biggest thing that has happened to the Knicks in decades, is that Jalen Brunson established himself as the sort of superstar you build an entire team around,” writes Will Leitch at Intelligencer. “I think he might be the biggest New York City sports superstar at this moment since I started writing for this magazine 16 years ago.”

  • In an interview with The New York Times, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “spoke with a mix of frustration and bewilderment at the West’s reluctance to take bolder steps to ensure that Ukraine prevails.”
  • In a tweetJacobin attempted to skewer Walmart: “Infamous for its starvation wages, Walmart just posted staggering first-quarter profits. The surge is a result of its strategic shift toward catering to affluent shoppers while its full-time workers continue to rely on Medicaid and food stamps.” The only problem is that Jacobin writers are paid worse than Walmart employees, which X users quickly pointed out via Community Notes.
  • Evergreen words: “Fantasy life isn’t always politically correct.”
  • OK, fine, a double helping of sex content (this is Reason, after all). Hooters discourse is raging, behold:
  • Donald Trump never took the stand in his New York criminal case, in which jurors heard roughly five weeks of testimony (mostly from witnesses called by the prosecution).
  • A Singapore Airlines flight that took off from London and was intended for Singapore had to make an emergency landing in Bangkok due to severe turbulence. One man died. The maker of the aircraft? I’ll give you one guess (but don’t say it out loud, you know what happens to whistleblowers).
  • This took off:
  • Soliciting YOUR ideas, dear reader: Who should Zach Weissmueller and I interview next on Just Asking Questions? DM me/DM him/tweet at us/email at [email protected]/track me down on the streets of New York City, use whatever means necessary, but please do tell us who you want us to interrogate interview.

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