Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Isn't preventing unintended pregnancies a good thing?

The Guttmacher Institute came out with a report yesterday that showed that from 1994 to 2001, 33 states have made it more difficult or more expensive for poor women and teenagers to obtain contraceptives and related medical services; these states cut funds for family planning, enacted laws restricting access to birth control and placed tight controls on sex education.

So query, at a time when policymakers have made reducing unintended pregnancies a national priority, and there is such a huge push to restrict access to abortions, why this schizophrenic approach? As Sarah Brown, director of the nonpartisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, said "The most powerful and least divisive way to decrease abortion is to reduce unintended pregnancy... "If we can make progress reducing unintended pregnancy, we can make enormous progress reducing abortion."


Rachel said...

A few things that I think it is important to clear up before commenting on this article. First of all, the Guttmacher Institute may techinically be "nonpartisan" but it was started as the research arm of Planned Parenthood and despite its claims to be independent still retains a lot of the original staff and philosophies. So to use it's statistics and analysis without understanding the potential bias is irresponsible. Secondly, the writer goes immediately from talking about the states hesitation to make Plan B available over the counter to making a generalized comment about the availability of contraceptives in states. Plan B is a stronger dose of "the pill" and the exact mechanism of action for the pill is unknown. It may prevent an ovum from being fertilized OR it may prevent a fertilized ovum (zygote) from implanting in the womb by creating a hostile environment. If this second possible mechanism is true, then those who believe a zygote is a human bieng at its earliest stage may consider it an abortion. There are many contraceptives that do work to prohibit a sperm from fertilizing an egg and therefore do not risk expelling a zygote from the womb.

Linda MacDonald Glenn said...

Your comment about Plan B is well taken, although the articles and comments are in reference to two different articles and two different problems. As you point out, there are many contraceptives that do work to prohibit a sperm from fertilizing an egg and therefore do not risk expelling a zygote from the womb -- so I don't understand why the states would not, at the very least, support those types of birth control, preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Kevin T. Keith said...

Is there some reason we're not just taking them at their word?: a policy of prohibition on abortion and increasing restrictions on birth control can only be intended to make sex dangerous and pregnancy mandatory. That interpretation also fits well with much of the rhetoric coming out of the religious right wing.

I don't see any sense in pretending to be surprised at that their policies are punitive towards women's sexuality, or to go to lengths to ask for reasons why such policies would be chosen, as if a punitive view of sex was not operative in them. Their ideology and their words make that agenda explicit; why not believe them? The immediate previous article - about anti-gay violence in Africa - did not shy away from naming patriarchy as the source of women's oppression. I see no reason to be coy about the same thing in regard to women's sexual autonomy here in the US.

Linda MacDonald Glenn said...

"barefoot and pregnant" is the expression tbat comes to mind -- I simply do not want to believe that we have reverted back to a point where women are being held responsible for all the sexual evils of the world and that any sex a woman might have other than for the purposes of procreation is a wrong that should be punished -- but then again, I may be being naive.