October 16, 2015

Feminist Friday: It's refreshing when pro-lifers cut the bullshit.

A word up front: I fully realize that not every pro-lifer is anti-contraception, but there's a disturbing movement within the movement that is strongly anti-contraception.

And that movement is disturbing. We know that higher usage of contraception leads to less abortions. In 2003, International Family Planning Perspectives conducted a review of contraception usage and abortion rates and concluded this:

Rising contraceptive use results in reduced abortion incidence in settings where fertility itself is constant. The parallel rise in abortion and contraception in some countries occurred because increased contraceptive use alone was unable to meet the growing need for fertility regulation in situations where fertility was falling rapidly.

 The review found that once fertility rates stabilized, the rate of abortion decreased while the rates of contraception usage increased.

We've also had case studies in the United States that show that increased access to contraception reduces abortions and restricting that access increases abortions.


Colorado had a program that used private grant money to disperse IUDs and other long-term contraception methods to low-income women and teens through its family planning clinic system. The state experienced a 40% drop in teen pregnancy over the five years of the program, and saved millions of dollars. A Durango Herald report on the program included this instance about the importance of this program especially for teen mothers:

Seven of 10 teen pregnancies in Colorado are unintended, the news release said. Research shows unintended pregnancies are associated with birth defects, low birth weight, elective abortions, maternal depression, reduced rates of breast-feeding and increased risk of physical violence during pregnancy. Children born to mothers who did not intend to have children are more likely to experience child abuse, poor health and educational challenges. Teen mothers are also less likely to graduate from high school or earn as much as women who wait to have children.

They also made this point quantifying the relationship between access to contraception and abortion:

The teen abortion rate dropped 35 percent from 2009 to 2012 in those counties served by the initiative. 

That is a significant drop in the number of abortions--simply by providing access to contraception.

Compare this to Detroit, Michigan. The city is a place where people are understandably reluctant to raise children. We discussed this in a blog post last year. One in every three Detroit pregnancies ends in abortion. That's an insane rate. In the United States at large, less than one in four pregnancies ends in abortion.

And yet, the Detroit News highlighted this fact last year:

Funding for family planning and contraceptives has decreased significantly in Michigan in recent years, from more than $5 million in 2006 to $692, 300 in 2013, according to the state Department of Community Health.

That's a significant drop...in funding. 80,000 families lost family planning coverage during that time, and one doctor explained the rise in abortions by saying that all of this, coupled with Detroit's extreme financial situation, makes abortion "one lousy choice" that people are forced to consider to deal with unplanned pregnancies.

Pro-choice advocates have long pointed to the fact that abortion is reduced--significantly--by contraceptive access and education. And we've long pointed to an apparent disconnect with some vocal proponents of the pro-life movement, including major Republicans. For instance, it was suggested that, after Colorado opted not to continue its IUD program once the private grant ran out despite results showing that it saved the state millions of dollars, that preventing abortions wasn't the real goal of GOP-backed "pro-life" initiatives--controlling women's sexuality (and the sexuality of anyone that becomes pregnant) was.

But these assertions are often incredibly difficult to prove. They're usually conjecture based on the contraception stances of pro-life organizations and the actions of pro-life legislators, but it's rarely stated explicitly.

This week, though, a pro-life organization cut the bullshit and just said what they meant:

Right Wing Watch has the audio, but here's their write-up:

Dr. Monica Miller of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, one of the main organizers of this weekend’s protest rallies at Planned Parenthood clinics, said on Tuesday that even if Planned Parenthood were to stop performing abortions, she would still want to strip it of federal funding because it promotes a “corrupt view of human sexuality” including “sex for recreation, sex for mere pleasure.” 
“Planned Parenthood from the top to the bottom is a corrupt organization,” Miller told Ave Maria Radio’s Teresa Tomeo, “corrupt in its view of the sanctity of human life and corrupt in its view of human sexuality. And I say even if Planned Parenthood didn’t perform one single abortion, just the mere fact that its sexual ethic is corrupted means right there, should be the reason right there, that they should not receive any federal money. The kind of sexual ethic that Planned Parenthood promotes is sex for recreation, sex for mere pleasure.” 
“Unfortunately we live in a culture that believes in that sexual ethic and so Planned Parenthood gets $528 million of federal tax money,” she added.

The point has been made many times that Planned Parenthood provides so much more than abortions. It's impossible to calculate how many abortions are prevented by Planned Parenthood's contraceptive services versus how many they perform each year, but I think it would be  a safe wager to say, "A hell of a lot."

But that doesn't matter, because the issue isn't that Planned Parenthood provides abortions. The issue is that they allow recreational, pleasurable sex.

This is becoming exceedingly clear that it doesn't matter if Planned Parenthood provides abortions or not. As long as they are making it possible for people to have sex divorced from reproduction, they are in the wrong. We see this when we point out--rightly!--that no federal money is supporting abortion services. Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism made this point beautifully:

So no, Medicaid and Title X funding do not free up Planned Parenthood’s money for providing abortions. All these programs do is reimburse Planned Parenthood for the contraceptive and other non-abortion women’s healthcare services they provide to poor women. Medicaid and Title X do not provide Planned Parenthood with money for nothing—money that can then be rerouted elsewhere—these programs simply reimburse Planned Parenthood for services offered. And because these reimbursements are low, Planned Parenthood isn’t profiting off of offering these services.

These dollars are awarded based on services provided--it's not a "blank check" that can be used for anything. If the money isn't there, it just means that people will have to pay for the services out of pocket (like they already do for the abortion services provided).

It's rare to see the real aim of some of these vocal anti-choice advocates spelled out so clearly, but in a way, it's refreshing. Let's just quit beating around the bush and say what we really mean.

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