Utah Joins the War on Contraception

Just weeks after California Representative Darrell Issa felt the need to call a special hearing to bemoan the oppression of the Catholic Church’s First Amendment rights–the freedom of religion–Utah Republicans are ready to legislate away another First Amendment right, their teachers’ right to free speech. The Utah House passed a bill, HB363, that would allow schools to ban sex ed and prohibits instruction in the use of contraception by a 45-28 vote. The bill now moves on to the state Senate.

But not to worry, the bill’s sponsor,  Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, “a dairyman“(!), has got the doublespeak down. Perhaps realizing that banning the discussion of contraception (under the guise of forbidding ”advocacy” of its use) might leave educators tongue-tied–and on the brink of a crime spree–if asked a direct question about contraception, he maintained that teachers could respond to students’ questions on the matter. How, exactly, he couldn’t say. The language of the bill states: “An instructor may respond to a spontaneous question as long as the response is consistent with the [bill's] provisions.”

Wright can be added to the ever-growing list of public officials who have gone on the record with their light-years-beyond-the-mainstream belief that birth control is a dodge, an “intellectually dishonest” way of “getting away with” sex. Boldly ignoring the biological truth that even married women aren’t able to get pregnant every day of their married life, he, along with Senator Santorum and the Catholic Church, have decided that sex is for procreation only and that the consequences of unprotected premarital sex aren’t grave enough already. (Apparently the threat of eternal damnation isn’t what it used to be.) Though Wright, like Santorum and the Church, professes to be protecting all of us from the consequences our mainstream “brainwashing” has left us unable to recognize without their intervention, everybody knows the wages of sexual sins are not distributed equally. To be sure, the Mormon influence in Utah may make it harder for an unmarried dad to shirk his parental responsibilities. Still, we all know who gets pregnant and who had to wear that scarlet letter.

There’s reason for hope though, even in this ultra-conservative state. Anyone who has visited Utah over the past thirty years can tell you how much influence the Mormon Church has lost over the state liquor laws. Where there once was no MTV, “16 and Pregnant” airs unmolested. And a Democratic lawmaker from Salt Lake City like Rep. Brian King can fight the self-appointed contraception police and go on the record saying that bills like HB363 make ”reasonable people think we have lost it up here on the Hill.”

About Jodi:
Jodi is a freelance writer and recovering academic with more enthusiasm for sports than athletic talent and a prodigious taste for the health food known as dark chocolate.


  1. Jodi thank you for this post. In fact this kind of sex education may have the opposite effect from what is expected. (http://www.dosomething.org/actnow/tipsandtools/facts-about-sex-education-us-0)
    And as I often say, religion is used as an excuse. (Someone, I think Jean Jaurès, but not sure, said something like this : God is great enough, He does not need a parliament to defend Him.)

    • Love that quote! I wish I didn’t feel like these guys just do this to raise their profile–and raise money. I can’t stand Santorum, but at least I believe he’s just speaking his very hysterical, homophobic, misogynistic heart :)

  2. I actually like Rick Santorum. I don’t think he’s hysterical, homophobic, or misogynistic. Why must we call people names that disagree with us. Is a woman who has an abortion, a “baby hater?” I’m just saying…

  3. Somehow I feel like Santorum would proudly wear homophobic and misogynistic. Hysterical he might hate for the association with women. I believe he absolutely has the right to believe what he believes. But when what he believes is that women should be at home celibate or pregnant and likens homosexuality to bestiality it’s a lot worse than calling a woman who has an abortion a babykiller–which I’m not at all sure he stops himself from saying. He actually thinks anyone who uses contraception is getting in the way of God’s will, and that’s practically being Satanic!

    I admire his ability to blinker out the world and obey his Church doctrine. I just wish he’d become a priest instead of a politician. Not sure he’d hack the vow of poverty or chastity, though …

    • You make all kinds of judgements about him, but you don’t really know him. He doesn’t hate women or homosexuals or contraception, he simply disagrees with it. And then he takes what he believes and lives his life by it. This is something to be admired.

      And it’s so offensive to you to actually have somebody that doesn’t share your view on the world that you have make sweeping generalizations to brand him as the enemy. It doesn’t take much thought or intelligence to do the same to you.

      I just find something you disagree with then make an extreme generalization that labels you a hater of people. Then to get some attention and rally the base of all those that think like I do, I just say you probably want people you disagree with to suffer and die.

      It’s not true of course. Neither you, or I or Rick Santorum thinks like that. We simply disagree.

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