Written by Kathy Thompson

 

A pro-contraception campaign by Monash University has backfired because of misconceptions around women’s “reproductive health” privacy – the same misconceptions that have been pushed by the abortion industry.

The campaign involves encouraging pharmacists to educate women about their contraception choices, and in particular, to promote to women the use of Long-Acting Contraceptives (These are also known as LARCS, and include such devices as IUD’s, Mirena etc.) LARCS have been pushed for years by the pharmaceutical-reproductive health complex, but have never been taken up as successfully as these “reproductive health experts” have wanted them to be. Perhaps, thanks to the internet, women can easily discover the many side-effects produced by these invasive devices inside their bodies – from a perforated uterus to pressure in the brain, from haemorrhaging to death.[1]

In their eagerness to promote the use of LARCS, Monash researchers failed to take into account the power of the narrative that they and other abortion/contraception proponents have been promulgating for years: the narrative that any intervention that influences a woman in her decision-making is pro-life and therefore (from their point of view) immoral and must be rejected.

Due to this misrepresentation, the media latched onto the campaign’s focus on “mandated counselling,” suggesting that women could be “shamed” and their privacy was being violated. There have even been reports that pharmacists are being told to dissuade women from using hormonal contraceptives and emergency contraception, instead of promoting them. Such is the incoherence of liberals who think that their access to contraception is being threatened.

Funding for a trial of the campaign came from the federal government to the tune of $AUS 2.5 million. Monash University created its “Quality Family Planning Services and Referrals in Community Pharmacy: Expanding Pharmacists’ Scope of Practice” or ALLIANCE, based on the idea that many Australian women don’t have access to the contraception they need. Using the model of successful anti-smoking campaigns, ALLIANCE capitalizes on the trust people place in pharmacists. The trial’s authors also notes that women have greater access to pharmacies than to doctors in many regional areas of the country.

Citing statistics such as “one-third of Australian women experience an unintended pregnancy in their lifetime” and “one in three of these unintended pregnancies results in abortion, with almost half of women who seek an abortion having a history of previous abortions”[2], the Monash website fails to look at the reasons why women don’t want to follow through on these pregnancies or at why so many women have multiple abortions.

Instead, researchers want pharmacists to target women who present themselves for emergency contraception or the abortion pill to offer them LARCS. These women who agree to be fitted for a contraceptive device will then be referred to the appropriate provider. Since this advice is being framed as “counselling” and is meant to be provided in a private room inside the pharmacy, the trial is being misrepresented in many quarters as a “prolife” designed effort to “shame” women.

The Herald Sun reported the ALLIANCE trial under the headline, “Pharmacists to Counsel Women on Birth Control,”[3] to which the feminist Victorian Minister, Gabrielle Williams, responded via social media that the federal government was running a “not-so-subtle pro-life agenda.”[4] A social media storm ensued with many pharmacists proudly stating that they were “not pro-life” and had no intention of shaming women.

A prolife pharmacist who spoke to this author said that the trial is nothing more than the formalisation of a conversation that usually takes place between pharmacists and women who present for the morning-after pill. She said that most women cite failed contraception for emergency contraceptives, such as a broken condom or a missed pill, and, under the ALLIANCE model, would be given information about LARCS.

“It’s hardly prolife!” she said. “All blown out of proportion by the pro-choicers. How quickly they became vicious when they believed that their right to kill their own children was being threatened.”[5]

While it’s good to see that misreporting by the media could make women shy away from the ALLIANCE program, the confusion does point to a problem that has been raised by pro-life professionals: that of the dominant discourse around reproductive health as being controlled by anti-life forces.

As mentioned in a previous article[6], the phenomenon of “Alarmist Gatekeeping” has seen medical professional self-censor on the topic of abortion, due to a variety of strategies imposed by the abortion industry. These strategies, which include punitive measures such as smear campaigns taken against pro life medical professionals, also involve what amounts to the hijacking of terminology.

The pushback experienced by authors of the ALLIANCE programme shows that abortion advocates have had control of the “reproductive rights” narrative for so long that even the word “counselling” now has negative connotations to the average woman.

Perhaps it is natural justice to see that this hijacking has backfired, at least temporarily. The contraception and abortion industry has no right to exploit the public’s trust in pharmacists by pressuring women into using harmful hormonal contraception.

[1] https://www.thefreedomsproject.com/item/197-5-medical-reasons-to-avoid-contraceptive-devices
[2]  https://lens.monash.edu/2021/06/16/1383398/breaking-down-contraception-barriers-to-empower-all-women-to-make-better-choices
[3] https://bit.ly/3zI4kKl
[4] https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7298974/health-services-confident-in-contraceptives-trial-cautious-of-broader-rollout/
[5] Email conversation with author
[6] https://www.fli.org.au/academic-research-describes-how-professionals-self-censor-on-abortion/

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