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Contraception? Just 'Put it Between Your Knees', Ladies

Sonny Borrelli head shot.
Arizona State Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli says women wouldn't need contraception if they would just keep their knees closed.

In the latest Republican sexist attack on women's rights, Arizona Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli, who opposes legislation guaranteeing the right to contraceptives, says women can avoid getting pregnant simply by keeping their legs closed.

"Like I said, Bayer Company invented aspirin," said Borrelli, who spent a day in jail on domestic violence charges in 2001. "Put it between your knees."

In other words, women wouldn't need birth control if they kept a pill bottle between their legs to prevent having sex. His sexist comments came as Republicans continue to stall legislation sought by Gov. Katie Hobbs that would assure access to contraception in the state.

Clearly, Borrelli learned nothing from that experience 23 years ago when he pled guilty to a "class 1 misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge tagged with domestic violence." His then-wife’s child told police he saw his dad rapidly punch his mother three times in the mouth before shoving her to the ground. Borrelli later said his then-wife had experienced a "meltdown" and "psychotic episode", and that her injuries were self-inflicted. He said he took the guilty plea to avoid losing custody of his son -- the one who ratted him out.

MAGA devotee Borrelli fits right in with the misogynistic Donald Trump, whom he supported following the January 6, 2021 Trump-inspired attack on the U.S. Capitol intended to prevent certification of Joe Biden's election. In fact, there were calls that he and six other Arizona lawmakers should be kicked out of the state legislature for supporting Trump's "Stop the Steal" initiative that led to that attack.

"This sexist tirade is just the latest in Republicans’ far-ranging attacks on women and their access to reproductive care across the country. From undermining access to contraceptives to attacking IVF services to banning abortion, reproductive freedom is the top target of MAGA extremism," declared a news release issued by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC).

“A comment like this from the Arizona Senate majority leader is indicative of just how far extreme Republicans have taken us and how little the GOP values women in this state," said Arizona DLCC co-chair Sen. Priya Sundareshan. "There are consequences when our elected officials are this extreme. As long as Arizona Republicans are in power, our reproductive freedoms are deeply threatened. For the sake of our families’ futures, we must elect Democrats who will protect our most basic freedoms.”

“It’s disgusting that comments like ‘put it between your knees’ are being voiced by elected leaders in 2024," declared DLCC National Press Secretary Sam Paisley. "It’s even more upsetting that this comment is accompanied by Republican obstruction of legislation that would protect contraception access in Arizona. Misogyny is clearly alive and well at the highest levels of the Arizona Republican Party. 


“Sen. Borrelli’s words and actions aren’t happening in a void – he’s unfortunately emblematic of the extremism of Republicans across the country," said Paisley. "State legislatures are the most important level of the ballot deciding reproductive freedom, and the DLCC is all hands on deck to root out MAGA extremism and elect Democrats who will defend reproductive rights – including in both chambers of the Arizona legislature. Arizona Republicans have been put on notice: they will answer for their extremism at the polls in November."

Borrelli’s comments echo those made by late Wisconsin pastor and former GOP mega donor Foster Freiss. In 2012, while Freiss was the head of a super PAC that backed Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, Freiss said women putting aspirin between their knees would be a cheaper alternative to contraception.

Late last month, in denouncing the Alabama Supreme Court's ruling on in vitro fertilization, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tied the ban to the misogyny being embraced within the conservative movement.

Essentially, the ruling classifies frozen embryos as people under Alabama law and prohibits embryos from being disgarded, even if the embryo is not to be implanted. Paired with the conservative movement’s ongoing attack on contraception, the IVF ruling highlights what Ocasio-Cortez described as “a patriarchal theocracy” that’s gaining ground in the conservative movement.

The movement’s endgame, according to Ocasio-Cortez, is to deny women their sexual freedom by ensuring that sex is used primarily for pregnancy, rather than pleasure.

Ocasio-Cortez told MSNBC, "I want to be very clear that this was intentional and that this is exactly what Republicans have been going for. We’ve seen it. You have the Heritage Foundation, you have lots of folks who are on record saying, you know, not only do they want to go after abortion, not only do they want to go after reproductive freedom, they’re going after IVF. They’re going after contraception. We have a mifepristone ruling that is coming down from the Supreme Court and Clarence Thomas enriching himself from the same folks who are saying that they are trying to control women’s bodies quite explicitly. And going beyond that, they also want to control what they call 'recreational sex.'"

Ocasio-Cortez was referring to the Supreme Court's scheduled hearing on mifepristone, the commonly used abortion pill, in a case brought by the conservative Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine. That hearing will take place March 26.

Tell me again why anyone in their right mind would be a Republican, and why would any woman -- ANY woman -- support them.

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