According to the Guttmacher Institute (GI), “51% percent of all pregnancies in the United States were unintended including eight in 10 teen pregnancies,” that’s a pretty astonishing statistic when you consider the politics surrounding contraception and abortion.
I respect individuals personal beliefs, but that doesn’t stop me from questioning how they arrived at them, or pointing out their inconsistencies.
For instance, that time when Wendy Davis had to filibuster a bill that was framed as a way to “protect women,” but would actually shutter most of the state’s clinics that performed abortions alongside other health care services.
I get it, some folks are completely against abortion in all circumstances — so doesn’t it seem logical to take steps to eliminate its primary causes? But, when you look at the statistics showing a link between poverty, lack of access to contraception, unintended pregnancies and the abortion rate, it’s clear that conservative politicians have opposed many practical solutions. Fmr. Gov. Rick Perry even told reporters that Texas doesn’t “grapple” with the effects of income inequality. But, what if its leading to higher rates of abortion?
Now, a new report from the Guttmacher Institute proves that the pro-life groups should rethink their policy positions on contraception and sex education if they want to achieve their goal of reducing the number of abortions in the state.
The research found that, “births resulting from unintended or closely spaced pregnancies to adverse maternal and child health outcomes and myriad social and economic challenges.” This of course means that low income women suffer more under the state’s current regime, with an unintended pregnancy rate of up to 5 times higher than those with incomes of more than 200% of the poverty line.
It also found, “poor women’s high rate of unintended pregnancy results in their also having high rates of both abortions (52 per 1,000) and unplanned births (70 per 1,000),” while, “higher-income white women experience unintended pregnancy at less than half the national rate.”
Eliminating abortion clinics may reduce the number of safe, legal abortions being tallied but women in dire straits still go south of the border or to a neighboring state, with less restrictions, or more unsafe conditions far from home.
Pro-life must mean much more than pro-birth. While the Governor refuses to consider Medicaid expansion, Texas still has the nation’s highest rate of uninsured children, and 1 in 4 still go to bed hungry, ranking Texas 2nd in that category. Texas also has more children waiting to be adopted than any other state in the nation. These are sad statistics that should make every Texan angry and are made even sadder by the fact that we have turned a blind eye to simple solutions for the sake of politics.
The Guttmacher study also found that, “95% of unintended pregnancies are attributable to the one-third of women who do not use contraceptives or who use them inconsistently.” That means that only 5% of unintended pregnancies occur when contraceptives are taken consistently, which flies in the face of “pro-life” rhetoric. The GOP and right wing activists have vehemently fought against government funds from being used to perform abortions (consistent) or disseminate birth control (inconsistent), and mandates on employers who provide health care benefits from having to also provide birth control (also inconsistent).
Now take what the swing state of Colorado (no slouch when it comes to freedom) has done. Cnn reported that, “Colorado’s teen birth rate dropped 40% between 2009 and 2013…in part due to a program that provides long-acting contraception to low-income women.”
The refusal to act on these hard facts also flies in the face of conservative rhetoric about government dependence vs. economic independence as the GI research showed that women who are able to plan their pregnancies were more likely to attain higher levels of education, participate more fully in the workforce, and, earn and save more money.
Let’s put our faith in the facts and move forward on a goal I’m sure is shared by most progressives and conservatives — safely reducing the number of unintended pregnancies while respecting all individuals constitutionally protected rights.
View the full study here.
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