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“The Facts Are Staring Us In The Face”: GOP Lawmakers Vote To Increase Unplanned Pregnancy Rate

In early July, Colorado’s success with free long-acting contraceptives was trumpeted by news media. The New York Times called the results “startling” and “stunning.” “Colorado’s free birth control experiment could change the world,” ravedSFGate, a news website.

But the news was not so surprising.

After health authorities provided free contraceptives such as intrauterine devices to low-income girls and women over six years, from 2009 to 2013, the out-of-wedlock birth rate among teenagers dropped by 40 percent. The abortion rate among that group declined by 42 percent, said the Times, using figures from Colorado officials. And they reported similar declines among unmarried women younger than 25 and without high-school diplomas — a group likely to be mired in poverty if they started motherhood too soon.

Aren’t those results exactly what you’d expect when young women are given easy access to a reliable and simple-to-use method of birth control? Isn’t that what advocates of women’s reproductive health have been preaching for decades?

Here’s the surprise: The Colorado state legislature has refused to provide $5 million to renew the program, despite its dramatic results. Apparently, its members were cowed by opposition from the usual coalition of right-wing religious groups, such as Colorado Family Action. (The initial funding was provided by an anonymous donor.)

“We believe that offering contraceptives to teens, especially long-acting reversible contraceptives, while it may prevent pregnancy, does not help them understand the risks that come with sexual activities. We should not remove parents from the equation,” Colorado Family Action said in a statement.

Allow me to interpret the statement from CFA: If teenage girls have sex, we want them to get pregnant and suffer for it. This sort of political falderal makes me want to bang my head on my desk. If we want to reduce unintended pregnancies — which leads, of course, to a reduction in abortion rates — we know how to do it: Provide free contraception, preferably long-acting and reversible methods such as IUDs. Yet, the very right-wingers who denounce abortion rights refuse to support widespread contraceptive use.

While the figures from Colorado are dramatic, rates of teen pregnancy have been falling for decades. The teen pregnancy rate in the United States reached its peak in 1990 and has been dropping since then.

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit that works to advance reproductive health, the decline, at least since 2003, has “little or nothing to do with teens’ delaying sex. … Instead, the decline in teen pregnancy in recent years can be linked to improvements in teens’ contraceptive use.”

In the late 1990s, reproductive experts started to notice that unintended pregnancies had dropped, especially among teenagers, as they began using long-acting birth control methods such as Norplant, which was implanted under the skin, and Depo-Provera, administered through injection. The advantage lies in ease of use: Women don’t have to remember to take a daily pill.

Still, even with the successes of recent decades, the United States has a higher rate of unintended pregnancies — more than half are unplanned — than virtually any other industrialized country. And 40 percent of those end in abortion, according to Guttmacher researchers.

Cultural and religious conservatives insist that teaching teens to abstain from sexual activity is the answer. But the states most likely to insist on that approach — my home state of Alabama is one — have the highest rates of teen pregnancy. Alabama has the 15th-highest rate of teen pregnancy, according to federal statistics. Mississippi, equally conservative and even poorer, has the second.

If you still don’t believe it, take a look at Bristol Palin, daughter of Tea Party darling Sarah Palin. Once a spokesperson for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, she pledged after her first child not to have sex again until she married. She is now pregnant with her second child as a single mother.

The facts are staring us in the face: We know how to prevent unplanned pregnancies and the poverty they so often drag in their wake. We know how to dramatically reduce the rate of abortions. It’s simply crazy that we refuse to do what works.

 

By: Cynthia Tucker, Pulitzer Prize Winner for Commentary, 2007; The National Memo, July 11, 2015

July 13, 2015 Posted by | Colorado Legislature, Contraception, Teen Pregnancy | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Keeping The Family Name In Our Faces Forever”: The Palin’s Are Our Punishment Forever

There was good news and bad news for Sarah Palin in the self-consciously ridiculous Public Policy Polling survey of Iowans for their preferences in the 2016 presidential contest (I mean, Caucus campaigning starts pretty damn early, but not this early!). On the one hand, she has an impressive 70/17 favorable/unfavorable rating among Iowa Republicans. On the other hand, only 10% of them chose her as their 2016 presidential favorite, tied for fourth with Jeb Bush.

But there’s fresh evidence that Palin’s real motive in life, other than continuing to pose as the ultimate pain-free martyr, is to keep the family name in our faces for, well, as long as any of us live. And it’s on that depressing note that I observe in terror that Bristol Palin is back in the news as a political blogger.

Yes, on the day after the president’s announcement of support for same-sex marriage, Alaska’s best known sexual abstinence advocate/unwed mother is lighting up conservative browsers everywhere with an attack on Obama for paying attention to his daughters’ opinions.

If you have your blood pressure under control, you can read the whole mess, but her train of logic seems to be that everybody gets all alarmed by the possibility that Christian women might submit to their husbands if they run for public office, and here’s The One submitting to his daughters, and everybody thinks that’s just fine!

I got angry enough about Bristol’s planted axiom that only conservative Republican women like Michele Bachmann (and presumably Bristol’s own mother) are “Christians” that I barely made it to the second howler. Not that she is listening, but someone really ought to inform her that people wondered about Bachmann submitting to her husband because she was repeatedly on record saying that’s exactly what she did, as a matter of Divine Law. Lots of Dominionist-influenced Christian Nationalists say and think that, you betcha! The questions did not come out of the blue.

While they are at it, Ms. Palin’s interlocuters might want to explain to her that when discussing same-sex marriage as something of a generational issue, it was rather natural for Obama to mention the views of immediate family members from a younger generation! I mean, they are right there at the White House; he didn’t have to hire a pollster or anything!

To be clear, I am not mocking Bristol Palin when I offer these responses. She has the last laugh on me, and on all of us. Like her mother, she has a knack of luring people who know better into paying attention to her rants. In my defense, I’ll say that some of Sarah Palin’s most casual, fact-free rants have wound up in national GOP talking points, leading millions of anxious seniors to believe that the President of the United States wants to have them euthanized. It’s sometimes best to get a head start on Palin-generated nonsense, or in this case, on the next generation of Palins.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 10, 2012

May 11, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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