Skip to main content

Huckabee's 'libido' comment chilling for women

By Cecile Richards
January 25, 2014 -- Updated 0104 GMT (0904 HKT)
Women have many choices when it comes to avoiding pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 99% of sexually active women from 2006 to 2010 used at least one contraceptive method at some point. Here's a look at a variety of birth control methods and how they each work. Women have many choices when it comes to avoiding pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 99% of sexually active women from 2006 to 2010 used at least one contraceptive method at some point. Here's a look at a variety of birth control methods and how they each work.
HIDE CAPTION
A woman's choice
IUD
The pill
Female condom
Diaphragm
Cervical cap
Implant
The patch
Vaginal ring
Vaginal sponge
The shot
Morning-after pill
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cecile Richards: Mike Huckabee caused uproar with clueless comments about birth control
  • He said women told they need goverrnment "Uncle Sugar" to pay for their birth control
  • Richards: His words show political agenda to deny women contraceptive coverage
  • Richards: Birth control key in women's lives, health. Next election, issue will be in balance

Editor's note: Cecile Richards is president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund

(CNN) -- Former Arkansas Governor and presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee sparked outrage across the country this week for his offensive remarks about women and birth control. But the real problem isn't what he says -- it's what he and too many other politicians believe, and it's the policies they would advance if they have the chance.

In a speech to the Republican National Committee, Huckabee said that it was wrong to give women access to no-co-pay birth control under the Affordable Care Act -- that by doing so, women were being told "they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government." Of the thousands of types of medical care covered by insurance companies -- somehow he and a lot of other politicians have focused like a laser on birth control -- on taking coverage away from women.

Cecile Richards
Cecile Richards

Indeed, Huckabee's remarks were no "gaffe," as too many pundits have called them. This is a speech he's made before, and his remarks are a look inside the playbook of politicians who appear to have no idea how birth control works and why it's so important to millions of women as a basic, preventive health care. They ignore the fact that women use birth control for a whole host of medical reasons -- and that's their business, not Mike Huckabee's.

In Huckabee's vision, every boss in America would be empowered to decide whether his or her female employees should have access to birth control the way they do for any other prescription medication.

Huckabee is joining a battle being waged cross the country.

Over 40 for-profit companies have filed lawsuits against the birth control benefit of the Affordable Care Act, and the Supreme Court will hear arguments in two of those cases in March. If the court rules in favor of the for-profit companies, employers for the first time ever could have the right to dictate to their employees the type of health care they may have access to.

Mike Huckabee's 'libido' controversy
Mike Huckabee and the 'war on women'
S.E. Cupp: I'm in the Twilight Zone!

Meanwhile, 20 state legislatures have moved to exempt certain employers and insurers from allowing their employees access to birth control without a co-pay. In Kansas, pharmacists are allowed to refuse to fill a prescription for birth control if they have a moral objection -- even if there's no other pharmacist in the area that a woman can go to instead. And while the states are individually waging separate battles, on the national front the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment a few months ago to roll back the birth control benefit.

The politicians behind these moves disregard how important birth control is for women and families. It allows women to take control of their health and economic security and to take personal responsibility for their family planning decisions. Many women also need birth control for medical reasons. For example, it can help relieve painful menstrual cramps, and help avert infertility by addressing the symptoms of endometriosis.

Access to birth control is also an economic issue. Until now, the cost has been expensive, with many women paying an average of $600 a year -- but sometimes much more -- for contraceptive protection. The Affordable Care Act enables 27 million women to receive their prescription birth control without a co-pay. Birth control also allows women, who make up nearly two-thirds of minimum-wage workers, to remain in the labor force.

For a woman working for minimum wage at a retail store, or for tips at a restaurant, the birth control benefit is tremendously important. For many women, it means the difference between taking birth control regularly and not being able to -- between getting pregnant and not getting pregnant.

As we look toward the midterm elections later this year, it's increasingly clear that access to birth control will be on the ballot. Mike Huckabee's remarks this week underscore what's at stake -- and why women will not allow out-of-touch politicians to take us back to the 1950s.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Cecile Richards.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0157 GMT (0957 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0158 GMT (0958 HKT)
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1831 GMT (0231 HKT)
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1427 GMT (2227 HKT)
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1448 GMT (2248 HKT)
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 2315 GMT (0715 HKT)
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 0034 GMT (0834 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2055 GMT (0455 HKT)
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2036 GMT (0436 HKT)
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1721 GMT (0121 HKT)
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1327 GMT (2127 HKT)
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT