“Pro-life” is really “pro-control,” as evidenced in Republicans continuing to work against the things that actually work to reduce abortion rates like affordable access to birth control.
As Republicans passed a law to allow defunding of Planned Parenthood on a state basis, a new study from Guttmacher found that publicly funded contraceptive services prevented 628,600 abortions in 2015.
In a study titled Publicly Funded Contraceptive Services at U.S. Clinics, 2015, the authors found, “In 2015, publicly funded contraceptive services helped women prevent 1.9 million unintended pregnancies; 876,100 of these would have resulted in unplanned births and 628,600 in abortions.”
Pro-life? “Without these services, the rates of unintended pregnancy, unplanned birth and abortion in the United States would all have been 67% higher, and the corresponding rates for women aged 15–19 would have been 102% higher.”
Additionally, without Title X-funded clinics, the unplanned birth and abortion rates would have each been 31% higher:
“Contraceptive services provided by clinics that received Title X funding helped women avert 822,300 unintended pregnancies in 2015, preventing 387,200 unplanned births and 277,800 abortions. Without the services provided by Title X–funded clinics, the U.S. unintended pregnancy, unplanned birth and abortion rates would each have been 31% higher, and the rate for women aged 15–19 would have been 44% higher.”
Ironically, Republicans just passed a bill that allows federal funding for health providers that offer abortion services to be denied by the state, even though federal funds do not pay for abortions.
So Republicans are defunding the very institutions that actually reduce the abortion rate, and they are doing this out of some pearl clutching pretense about thinking abortion is so bad that any institution that provides this constitutionally-protected right should be punished.
The Republicans’ war on facts allows them to take ridiculous actions like this and run on it, claiming they are pro-life. But this is the opposite of pro-life, because Republicans have actually just given a green light to defund organizations that reduce the abortion rate by a substantial amount.
This isn’t the first time Republicans have sided against birth control, which is really what they are doing here. Planned Parenthood explains that the Hobby Lobby case that Republicans fought so hard for in the name of “religious liberty” gives “bosses at closely held companies, which employ more than half of the U.S. workforce (including tens of millions of American women) a free pass to discriminate and deny their employees coverage for affordable birth control.”
Perhaps this seems like nothing, but that is only if a person isn’t aware of the many ways birth control is used for women’s health and is fundamental to women’s freedom and liberty.
Birth control is also the biggest way to reduce the abortion rate. A person can be against abortion personally and still understand that we can’t make abortion illegal because the argument to do so sets a precedent to arbitrarily steal liberty and privacy from U.S. citizens. There is no way around it, forcing a rape victim to have a baby or forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy that could kill her or making medical decisions for any U.S. citizen is simply not something the government can do without setting a precedent that has horrifying ramifications.
This argument has been made by better minds ad nauseam and yet we live in the Age of Trump, which is to say the Age of Relearning Maybe All that Is Already Known. And so here we are, back at square one.
The bottom line is that the best way to reduce the abortion rate is to provide low cost or free birth control and family planning services to girls and women.
A person doesn’t have to like that to understand that it is the only thing that actually works. And this goes to the false narrative Republicans have tried to pin on women’s rights advocates of being “pro-abortion”. No one is pro-abortion, that’s like calling men who want the right to a prostate exam to save their life “pro-prostrate exam”.
Grown ups who understand that life is not always pleasant or fair advocate for women’s medical rights because it is a fundamental right that should not be denied in the land of the free. It is the only way women can actually be free people. There’s no way around this fact.
People are free to not have an abortion if they don’t want to. They should not be free to tell others what to do with their body – and they certainly shouldn’t be defunding the only sure way of reducing the abortion rate. People who argue that it’s murder to have an abortion never have an answer when it’s pointed out to them that it’s not uncommon for a pregnancy to put a woman’s life in jeopardy. Killing women is okay to these folks. You can’t claim every life matters, except already living women’s lives and be taken seriously. This legal flaw is the problem Republicans can’t get around.
It’s time to put away the “pro-life” narrative; it’s a big, ugly lie.
Publicly funded contraceptive services that Republicans just took aim at prevented 628,600 abortions in 2015. There is no way of determining yet which states will take Republicans up on their new law, but if Republican policies are carried out across the country, that is to say if their policy is implemented as they intend it to be, the abortion rate will increase by the hundreds of thousands — an estimated 67% higher.
Study authors: Jennifer J. Frost, Lori F. Frohwirth, Nakeisha Blades, Mia R. Zolna, Ayana Douglas-Halland and Jonathan Bearak
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.