In the wake of a recently leaked draft Supreme Court opinion that indicated the Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion,1 there has been speculation about whether the right to birth control is also in jeopardy. There is no need to speculate: Access to birth control is already under threat and the constitutional right to birth control is already being targeted by a range of policymakers who are opposed to reproductive health care.

But because birth control is widely popular, basic health care that enables people to exercise autonomy and self-determination and is essential to people’s health, lives, and futures,2 those who are attacking birth control are deliberately using tactics that hide their true motives. They lie and conflate birth control with abortion–falsely conflating emergency contraceptives and intrauterine devices with abortion or listing these methods of birth control alongside abortion in legislation that restricts or bans it. They hide their attempts to go after birth control, using purposely vague or misleading language. And at the same time, some policymakers are undertaking a frontal assault on the constitutional right to birth control.

Anti-reproductive health policymakers are purposely conflating birth control and abortion

Lawmakers opposed to reproductive health are claiming that some forms of birth control cause abortions (are “abortifacients”) and should therefore be restricted. Apart from the fact that abortion care–like birth control–is necessary health care that should not be restricted, it is also a fact that birth control is not abortion. Birth control is “any method, medicine, or device used to prevent pregnancy.”3 By its very definition, birth control does not cause abortion, because it is effective prior to pregnancy.

In some cases, this tactic being used by anti-reproductive health policymakers involves making false and inflammatory statements about birth control being abortion, and in others, lawmakers are explicitly including certain methods of birth control in policy measures restricting or banning access to abortion.

Legislators conflating abortion and certain methods of birth control–in particular intrauterine devices (IUDs) and emergency contraception (EC)–are taking advantage of a lack of knowledge about these methods, and people’s understanding of how birth control works.4 These policymakers are preying upon abortion stigma, believing that if they can convince people that birth control methods are abortion, they can successfully restrict access to birth control–or ban it altogether.