Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tulsa billboard gets it wrong

A Tulsa billboard attacking birth control is attracting national attention. Unfortunately for those of us in T-Town, it is exactly the kind of publicity that makes Tulsa, and Oklahoma, look foolish.

The billboard in question carries this amazing headline: "Birth Control is Harmful." The sign, which directs readers to respectlifetulsa.org, is an apparent response to Planned Parenthood's local billboards which proclaim, "Birth Control is Easy." The "Harmful" billboard is showing up on some national websites, but the ones we've seen are highly critical—as are we.

Why? Because birth control has long been a very good thing, especially for people (including sexually active teens) who don't want children or shouldn't be having them. (It would be even better if teens wouldn't have sex, but that's a somewhat different problem, and certainly one not solved by scaring them away from birth control.)

Does Tulsa need more kids with kids? No. But that seems to be the unintended message of these "Harmful" billboards.

We've checked out the "Respect Life" website, but we remain unconvinced. They advance the unrealistic and harmful notion that birth control pollutes the moral fiber of the unsuspecting public, cheapening our lives and values.

Well, no it doesn't. It doesn't because many of us (including many Catholics) who use birth control live solidly moral lives, working hard, raising decent children, caring for others, serving the community, and so on. Birth control didn't and won't corrupt us or those we have any influence over. Besides, attacking birth control as a social evil is misguided in a world where there's plenty of real evil to fight.

Finally, if their idea is to prevent unwanted pregancy and abortions, then they've got it backwards. Since the whole point of birth control is to prevent pregancy, birth control prevents abortions. And certainly the pill, the patch, condoms, and other forms of birth control—even if you don't like them for yourself—are preferable to abortion.

The Respect Life folks can say what they want to—it's a free country. But we happen to think the attack on birth control is profoundly misguided and, in the real but imperfect world, hurts some of the very people they say they want to help.


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