Contraception Use Down, Abortion Rate Declines Less

The New York Times reports today in the article “Use of Contraception Drops, Slowing Decline of Abortion Rate” that fewer women (or couples) who do not want to get pregnant are using contraception, thus leading to more unintended pregnancies and a slowing of the trend of declining abortion rates.

According to the article,

the researchers blamed reductions in federally and state-financed family planning programs for declining contraceptive use. They called for public and private insurance to cover contraceptives, and for over-the-counter access to the so-called morning-after pill, which can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after sex.Of three million pregnancies in the United States each year, half are unintended, according to Guttmacher, and half of those are carried to term. About 14,000 women who carry the pregnancies put the children up for adoption, and 1.3 million have abortions.

What I really cannot wrap my head around is why people who think abortion is killing a baby would not be the biggest most vocal advocates of contraception and the morning-after pill. I mean, even if you incorrectly claim that the morning-after pill causes abortion, is it not preferable to have an “abortion” of a fertilized egg that is about two cells big, rather than after the fertilized egg is implanted and starts becoming more “baby”-like? Certainly, the must make a difference between a fertilized egg and a fetus as 12 weeks?

And, I don’t think that it is a huge stretch to imagine that all this abstinence-only education that fails to teach students about contraception might be contributing to the decline in the use of contraception and the slowing of the abortion rate decline.

I think that Dan Savage, a sex-advice columnist (who I have mixed feelings about), contributes some interesting thoughts to what is going on here:

Straight Rights Update: Earlier this month, Republicans in South Dakota successfully banned abortion in that state. Last week, the GOP-controlled state house of representatives in Missouri voted to ban state-funded family-planning clinics from dispensing birth control. “If you hand out contraception to single women,” one Republican state rep told the Kansas City Star, “we’re saying promiscuity is okay.” On the federal level, Republicans are blocking the over-the-counter sale of emergency contraception and keeping a 100 percent effective HPV vaccine that will save the lives of thousands of women every year­from being made available.The GOP’s message to straight Americans: If you have sex, we want it to fuck up your lives as much as possible. No birth control, no emergency contraception, no abortion services, no life-saving vaccines. If you get pregnant, tough shit. You’re going to have those babies, ladies, and you’re going to make those child-support payments, gentlemen. And if you get HPV and it leads to cervical cancer, well, that’s too bad. Have a nice funeral, slut.

What’s it going to take to get a straight-rights movement off the ground? The GOP in Kansas is seeking to criminalize hetero heavy petting, for God’s sake! Wake up and smell the freaking Holy War, breeders! The religious right hates heterosexuality just as much as it hates homosexuality. Fight back!

Although I would not have put it quite like, the point is that Republicans and various other conservative groups/people seem to not just be against premarital sex, but sex in general. And who does this disproportionately effect, my friends? Women.

I wish I had some sort of good point to all of this rather than just lamenting how sad and depressing it is. I know that many of us feel a very heavy burden to speak up about so many things – the environment, the war, animal rights, GLBTQ rights, freedom of conscience, and so on. I know we cannot do it all. But do put this on your radar screen, at the least, and if nothing else, pray. Or meditate. Or hope. Or whatever you can do in your quiet time (or if you happen to have magical powers, all the better…). If you can manage to write a letter to your congressperson or speak up in a kind, compassionate, but firm way at your town meeting, or school board meeting, or this weekend’s dinner party, small steps are better than no steps. The tragic thing is that the work of the religious right in making contraception, the morning-after pill, and abortion more difficult to obtain or to learn about results in so much harm to women, families, and children. Planned Parenthood’s motto about “every child wanted, every child loved” is so powerful to me. I am positive that if all those anti-sex, anti-abortion, anti-contraception people truly cared about children they would be pushing for policies that cared for children once they are born – available and affordable health care, quality preschool and K-12 education, adequate and affordable day care, and policies that allowed their parents to adequately care for children such as required living wages, universal health care coverage, and so on.

I truly find it hardly comprehensible. And just very depressing. What I try to remain focused on (and did not do a good job here) is thinking of ways to compassionately and lovingly build bridges of understanding and common ground with those with whom I disagree so strongly with. As I’ve read before, we cannot blog (or sermon, for that matter) our way to revolution. What will it take to change things? Liberals are great at lamenting the ills of the right, but after we have lamented for a while, we must actually do something.

W. (my partner) works for a project on developing a progressive strategy. That is, an actual strategy to change something rather than the big liberal woe-is-us pow wows that we often take part in (myself included). His blog is here. No solutions yet, but I’m glad that at least some people are thinking about how we might actually change some of the horrors we see.

On that cheerful note, enjoy the sunny weather! In solidarity, Elizabeth

3 Responses to Contraception Use Down, Abortion Rate Declines Less

  1. Penguini says:

    Very important issues here. It’s horrible how so much of our country (and the world as a whole) are oblivious or just unconcerned about the way women are treated and how the decisions made to change policies and laws negatively affect women’s lives. (I wanted to put it better than that, but that’s what I can manage this morning.)

    Thanks for writing about such an important topic. We should all be aware of what is going on in our country and, as you pointed out, not just talk about it but DO something to change it. Unfortunately, I think many of us (Americans, Liberals, Women, etc.) just don’t know how to start or think “someone else” will do something. We need to get over that or someday we’ll look around and not have any choices at all in how we live our lives.

    Peace and healing,

  2. suckonthis says:

    “What I really cannot wrap my head around is why people who think abortion is killing a baby would not be the biggest most vocal advocates of contraception and the morning-after pill.”

    I think – and I could be wrong here – that none of their ideology is based on any kind of practical reality or scientific fact. I have reason to believe that that’s why pro-life groups have to make up so much fake science to support their theories.


  3. Elizabeth says:

    I think you are probably sort of right, s.o.t. I just have a hard time wrapping my mind around that…..

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