Tim Reichert, an economist and a GOP candidate for a Colorado congressional district, is known for being a longtime opponent of reproductive rights. But in an interview on KOA’s Ross Kaminsky show last week, he doubled down on his previous statements that argue against the use of contraception.
“Contraception is, contrary to the rhetoric of the sexual revolution, deeply sexist in nature,” Reichert originally wrote in his 2010 opinion piece “Bitter Pill,” published in a Christian conservative journal.
In the article, Reichert used economics to claim that the widespread use of contraception is “socially damaging,” and disenfranchises women by separating relationships from a “mating market” into a “sex market” and “marriage market.” This, Reichert wrote, makes it more difficult for women to bargain in the so-called “marriage market,” while increasing infidelity among those who do get married.
Reichert went on to cite a study by Cynthia Woodsong and Helen Koo, which he claims “[found] that increased use of contraception among African American women and their partners increases mistrust between the partners due to higher risk of infidelity.”
Though Reichert did not link to the study itself, he was most likely referring to Woodsong and Koo’s 1996 study “Two good reasons: women’s and men’s perspectives on dual contraceptive use.” If this is true, then Reichert’s citation was based on a misinterpretation of the information found by the study. Woodsong and Koo found that a large number of participants, who already used birth control pills, were hesitant to suggest to their partners that they also use condoms, as they worried it might undermine a much-valued trust in the relationship. Discussing their findings, Woodsong and Koo hold that this mistrust stems from preexisting gendered tensions between men and women, not from the usage of contraception.
Asked by Kaminsky about the article, Reichert defended his decade-old piece, saying, “I simply point out that there’s a very good argument that it harms the poor and the marginalized among women.”
Reichert’s contention in singling out “the poor and marginalized among women” for these claims seems to indicate at least one of two things: that he frames opposition to reproductive health as a progressive stance, and/or that he believes there is a greater risk of infidelity among “the poor and marginalized.”
Reichert was careful to say that while he thinks contraception is a detriment to society, he does not believe it should be unilaterally outlawed. In his 2010 piece, he posited Pope John Paul II’s “new feminism,” which is supposed to align with Catholic values, as an alternative solution to the societal pitfalls of contraception.
When Kaminsky asked Reichert whether he thought his comments on contraception could be a “political liability,” Reichert fell back on his belief in the values of the Catholic church.
“You know, look, is the left going to try to use this against me? Probably,” Reichert said. “But, you know, I’m proud to be able to explain why the church’s position is at least not unreasonable and maybe even reasonable. And, you know, if we’re in a world where Catholics need not apply, that’d be too bad. I don’t think we’re there yet.”
Reichert’s stances on abortion are extreme even for the GOP: he once said that every abortion is a “human sacrifice” that “feeds the demonic and thereby contributes directly to the demise of the church, the demise of America and the demise of the West.”
In an email, Dani Newsum, who is Director of Strategic Partnerships for the CO-based reproductive rights advocacy group Cobalt, had this to say:
“I’m not surprised that a Republican middle-aged white economist from Golden assumes that women of color and poor women are incapable of making and owning our personal decisions about birth control. Worse, Tim Reichert wraps his assumption in a veil of patriarchal so-called scholarship. At Cobalt, as for most of us living in the 21st century, we believe that every Coloradan is more than capable of making decisions about their reproductive health free and should be able to do so free from government, academic, or any other source of coercion, judgment or systemic barriers. Since the overwhelming majority of Coloradans share that value, clearly Tim Reichert is centuries out of step with not only the congressional district he hopes to misrepresent, but also with our entire state. Also – if Reichert believes birth control pills encourages sex, infidelity, and mistrust, he’d best talk to white women, who generally have better access to the pill, and use it in greater numbers than Black women (Guttmacher Institute).”
Colorado’s 7th Congressional District, located in the Jefferson County area, is represented by Ed Perlmutter (D-Arvada), who is retiring at the end of this term. The only Democrat currently running to replace him is state Sen. Brittany Petersen (D-Lakewood).
Reichert’s campaign did not respond to a Facebook message requesting comment. This story will be updated with any response received.