Skip to main content

Huckabee's 'libido' comment chilling for women

By Cecile Richards
updated 8:04 PM EST, Fri January 24, 2014
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
updated 5:01 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Paul Callan says the grand jury is the right process to use to decide if charges should be brought against the police officer
updated 12:19 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Theresa Brown says the Ebola crisis brought nurses into the national conversation on health care. They need to stay there.
updated 6:35 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Patrick Hornbeck says don't buy the hype: The arguments the Vatican used in its interim report would have virtually guaranteed that same-sex couples remained second class citizens
updated 9:48 PM EDT, Sat October 25, 2014
Paul Begala says Iowa's U.S. Senate candidate, Joni Ernst, told NRA she has right to use gun to defend herself--even from the government. But shooting at officials is not what the Founders had in mind
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
John Sutter: Why are we so surprised the head of a major international corporation learned another language?
updated 5:54 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Jason Johnson says Ferguson isn't a downtrodden community rising up against the white oppressor, but it is looking for justice
updated 12:21 PM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Sally Kohn says a video of little girls dressed as princesses using the F-word very loudly to condemn sexism is provocative. But is it exploitative?
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Timothy Stanley says Lewinsky is shamelessly playing the victim in her affair with Bill Clinton, humiliating Hillary Clinton again and aiding her critics
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Imagine being rescued from modern slavery, only to be charged with a crime, writes John Sutter
updated 12:00 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Tidal flooding used to be a relatively rare occurrence along the East Coast. Not anymore, write Melanie Fitzpatrick and Erika Spanger-Siegfried.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Carol Costello says activists, writers, politicians have begun discussing their abortions. But will that new approach make a difference on an old battleground?
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
updated 2:51 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Crystal Wright says racist remarks like those made by black Republican actress Stacey Dash do nothing to get blacks to join the GOP
updated 6:07 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Mel Robbins says by telling her story, Monica Lewinsky offers a lesson in confronting humiliating mistakes while keeping her head held high
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
updated 11:36 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
updated 10:21 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
updated 8:05 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
updated 4:33 PM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
updated 12:42 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
updated 4:27 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
updated 12:07 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
updated 6:45 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
updated 1:00 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
updated 9:35 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
updated 10:08 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
updated 4:04 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
updated 9:07 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
updated 6:50 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Sat October 11, 2014
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT