Opinion

Is free birth control the answer to Detroit’s abortion rate?

Last week it was reported by The Detroit News that despite decreasing abortion rates in the United States and Michigan, abortion rates in Detroit increased. In 2012, 31 percent of pregnancies ended in abortion.

Reporting from The Detroit News includes a host of statements from experts. However, such experts, which include doctors and those involved in family planning, make problematic statements regarding the connection between birth control and abortion and risks of abortion. The overall theme of the piece also shows a heavy, perhaps sole, reliance on birth control.

Nevertheless, statements from these experts to demonstrate that such an abortion rate is regarded as problematic no matter what one’s stance is on abortion.

Dr. Susan Schooley, chairwoman of the Department of Family Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital says that such a rate means Detroit is “seeing a picture that looks more like some Third-World country than someplace in the United States.” She also regards abortion as “one lousy choice.”

Loretta Davis, president and CEO of Detroit’s Institute for Population Health “said the increasing abortion rate represents a ‘public health failure.'”

News outlets which support abortion reacted to the rates in similar ways, by acknowledging it as a bad thing and then calling for federally funded birth control. Such examples include The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast.

Nancy Kaffer though, in writing for Detroit Free Press, takes it that much further. The title of her piece, “Want fewer abortions? Then fund contraception,” leaves little question as to where her opinions on the issues lie.

The effectiveness and merits of birth control can certainly be up for debate, even in the pro-life community. That’s not the only issue here, however. What is is that when those like Nancy Kaffer rely on birth control, which can and does fail, as pretty much the only option for reducing abortions, and with such a sense of arrogant attitude.

A sense of blame is also included in Kaffer’s commentary:

And it’s time for anti-abortion-rights groups that oppose contraception, and funding for same, to admit that they’re part of the problem.

Again, such topics are debatable, which Kaffer concedes to, as long as you accept that her position is the one that is going to remain. But that issue is for a whole other article.

Birth control may be effective, but it does fail. The Guttmacher Institute, which Kaffer herself does refer to later in her piece,  reports that 51 percent of women who have an abortion were already using birth control. This, however, is not the link Kaffer uses. Perhaps part of the problem is risk compensation then as well, especially with such a dependence on birth control.

Monica Migliorino Miller, the director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, South Lyon, wrote a letter in response to The Detroit News which was published.

Miller rightly criticizes such a dependence on birth control as solving the abortion rates, and also points out that:

After 35 years of helping inner-city women in crisis pregnancy I can say with confidence that the abortion cocktail is mixed with two lethal ingredients: sexual activity without marriage and the irresponsibility of men who beget children and do not father them.

The truth is that “throwing more birth control pills at women [who] will not get at the real source of Detroit’s economic problems or tragic abortion rate…” And what’s worse is that those who claim to have the end-all solution to abortion rates are ignoring that their narrow plans fall flat. The longer that they are unable or unwilling to realize that their final solutions is anything but, the sooner we can start addressing the significant underlying economic and cultural issues.
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