Analysis

There is more to fixing poverty than free birth control

birth-control-pills

With regards to preventing abortions in Detroit, as well as undoubtedly elsewhere, there has been much discussion as to if birth control, free birth control at that, is the answer. Even among the pro-life community there is debate on its use.

While one could make the case that contraception does prevent unintended pregnancies, this statement does not speak to the morality of such methods to prevent pregnancy. And this is if methods are used 100% correctly. Humans use birth control though, and thus methods are susceptible to human error. The Guttmacher Institute, an organization which is in support of abortion, reports that 51% of women who were obtaining an abortion were already using birth control. You don’t see abortion advocates pointing to such a report all that much, though.

Abby Johnson on her Facebook page a few months ago made a post regarding the abortion and birth control link:

Some of you have also bought into the abortion industry’s talking point that birth control reduces abortions. However, that is not what the majority of studies show. When contraception rates rise, abortion rates rise. Makes sense since abortion is the final form of birth control[.]

Another issue with certain birth control methods is that they can cause early abortions. Pro-lifers have done research and analysis on findings. While many birth controls methods do not cause early abortions, others do. This is an important point for pro-lifers, particularly those who use or take no issue with birth control, to examine.

It is okay for there to be disagreement on birth control, even amongst the pro-life community. Now those who advocate for abortion and call for federally funded contraception may say this, but they don’t really mean it. Nancy Kaffer, mentioned in a recent article of mine, is one such person. Her piece for Detroit Free Press includes a title with an obvious position on the issue, “Want fewer abortions? Then fund contraception.”

The beginning of her article leaves no room for pro-lifers who are against both abortion and contraception:

If you are opposed to abortion rights, asking lawmakers to restore this funding should be your top priority. Because there is no surer way to reduce the number of abortions performed in this city, state or country than to lower the number of unwanted, unplanned pregnancies.

Actually, there is a “surer way” and that is by ensuring there is no possibility of pregnancy at all. That is by practicing abstinence, which Kaffer does mention, though much further in her article, while arguing against abstinence education programs . Even abortion provider Planned Parenthood acknowledges this method right off the bat as being the only 100% way to prevent pregnancy.

Those who are against both abortion and birth control are not only not given room in the debate, but are “living in some kind of alternaverse” and are “blithely oblivious to the devastating impact on the lives they claim to cherish.”

Nancy Kaffer also falls for the claim that there is no connection between abortion and birth control, with emphasis added:

Part of the problem, a nonpartisan group that works to reduce teen pregnancy rates told the News, is that in our national dialogue, abortion and contraception are often linked. To suggest, as some anti-abortion-rights groups do, that contraception aborts a pregnancy is not only medically inaccurate, it’s incredibly damaging to public health policy.

What is “medically inaccurate” is to ignore the link that does exist. This is particularly the case with forms of emergency contraception. And what is “incredibly damaging” is to further the concept of risk compensation as women are given even more forms of birth control which may fail and will then leave them even more dependent and prone to abortion.

And here is where Kaffer makes it really clear that her opinion is the one which stands true. She makes somewhat of a concession at first in saying that  “[l]ots of Americans have conflicted feelings about abortion. That’s OK. It’s a complicated, painful, personal choice…” But wait for it, as she finishes her sentence with asserting “— and it must remain a safe, legal choice. ”

Within the very same paragraph, she repeats the oft-cited claim regarding usage of birth control by American women, which to her translates that we’re “all in:”

But when it comes to contraception, American women are all in. Something like 99% of us use contraception at some point during our reproductive years…

Despite this, it doesn’t mean that 99% of American women in their reproductive years want to pay for the contraception of others. Because “free” birth control isn’t truly free just because someone else is always paying for it.

Kaffer directs another jab, in the form of a rhetorical question, at pro-lifers further down her article:

So when you cut the state’s most vulnerable women and girls off from access to the information and tools that help prevent unwanted pregnancies — the kind of access those of us with insurance take for granted — what do you expect?

What is up for a whole other discussion is whether birth control is the only real service we can be providing to these impoverished “most vulnerable women and girls.” Kaffer mentions nothing about the assistance pregnancy centers provide. She also does not make a call for young people to be more responsible, especially young men who too often run off in a situation of unplanned pregnancy.

What many pro-lifers do expect is for birth control to eventually fail, at least for some of these women and girls. We do so because we have concern for them and their children.

Kaffer closers her piece on a rather dour and sarcastic note:

And so, in Michigan’s poorest places, we’ll continue to see the number of unwanted pregnancies — and unwanted abortions — rise.

Right to life, indeed.

Women can be empowered in others ways besides government handouts of contraception. For those who are already pregnant and/or parenting, pregnancy centers have made great strides, and even assist women after they have given birth, such as help with finding jobs. That is a much more hopeful and empowering message. If those like Nancy Kaffer could see outside the realm of dependence on birth control as the savior of everything, perhaps they would see that.

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