Still Unknown: Is the President Opposed to Contraception?

Aug 1, 2005
Press Release

 WASHINGTON, DC - Today 19 Members of Congress, led by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), again requested that President Bush respond to the question: “Are you opposed to contraception?”  

Today’s letter follows a July 12 letter to the president from the same 19 Members of Congress requesting clarification of his position on contraception. They have received no response to date.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has twice refused to answer this question during Press Briefings, first on May 26 and again on July 18, when White House Correspondent Les Kinsolving raised the question for the second time in response to the Members’ July 12 letter.

The text of today’s letter to the president is available here: https://maloney.house.gov/sites/maloney.house.gov/files/documents/olddocs/choice/080105Contraception.pdf. The Members’ first letter is available at: https://maloney.house.gov/sites/maloney.house.gov/files/documents/olddocs/choice/071205PresidentContraception.pdf. Transcripts from the two White House press briefings are below.

“It is absurd that the president’s spokesperson is unable to answer this simple question,” said Maloney. “He can’t even give a straight answer. The continued failure of the White House to answer this question is evidence of the mounting attack on access to birth control.”

The White House’s silence on birth control comes at a time when women’s access to birth control is threatened. Individual pharmacists across the country have recently refused to fill prescriptions for birth control because of personal objections, the House of Representatives has voted to strike any mention of contraception from legislation on family planning, and the President has nominated a man with no clear record on women’s rights to replace the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

Joining Maloney were in signing the letter to the President were Henry Waxman (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Lois Capps (D-CA), Hilda L. Solis (D-CA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Lynn C. Woolsey (D-CA), Corrine Brown (D-FL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Diane E. Watson (D-CA), Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Robert Wexler (D-FL), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Steve Israel (D-NY), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY).

Excerpt from May 26, 2005 White House Press Briefing:

Q There are news reports this morning that parents and children who were guests of the President, when they visited Congress, wore stickers with the wording, "I was an embryo." And my question is, since all of us were once embryos, and all of us were once part sperm and egg, is the President also opposed to contraception, which stops this union and kills both sperm and egg?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has made his views known on these issues, and his views known -

Q You know, but what I asked, is he opposed -- he's not opposed to contraception, is he?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, and you've made your views known, as well. The President --

Q No, no, but is he opposed to contraception, Scott? Could you just tell us yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think that this question is -

Q Well, is he? Does he oppose contraception?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think the President's views are very clear when it comes to building a culture of life --

Q If they were clear, I wouldn't have asked.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and if you want to ask those questions, that's fine. I'm just not going to dignify them with a response.

The entire transcript of this briefing is available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/05/20050526-1.html.

Excerpt from July 18, 2005 White House Press Briefing:

Q I have one follow up. Nineteen members of Congress from seven states have written a letter to the President saying that they are still waiting for an answer to a May 26th question: Is the President opposed to contraception. And my question is, could they now have an answer to my question? Or do you regard them, too, as not to be dignified with a response?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think we've talked about these issues before and these issues when it comes to the federal government and programs aimed at promoting abstinence and how those ought to be funded on at least equal footing with other programs, so I think we've addressed the President's views in that context.

The entire transcript of this briefing is available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/07/20050718-2.html.

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