Today, the current administration will announce a plan to tie federal funding dollars for health clinics to abortion policies. This is wrong. Look, reasonable people can agree to disagree on the issue of abortion, but history tells us that the best way to prevent unintended pregnancies and, by extension, abortions, is through education and affordable, accessible birth control. This isn’t anecdotal; we have solid evidence.
Clinics that provide access to birth control, health screenings, pre-natal care, and more, are primarily, though not exclusively, run by Planned Parenthood. These clinics cannot use federal funds for abortion services. But this new rule (which is really an old, resurrected rule) curtails funding for clinics that don’t provide any abortion services. Among other things, this rule prohibits clinics from referring women to an abortion provider even if the woman requests the information. It’s a medical gag rule targeted at half the population. It’s discrimination, plain and simple. It’s also very dangerous. In many communities, these clinics are the only place for women to get breast exams, cervical cancer screenings, pre-natal care, and other life-saving services. When federal funding disappears, the clinics close and women are left with no options for basic health care.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, unintended pregnancies and abortion rates plummet when federal policies support education and widespread access to birth control. During the 1980s and early 90s when policies like the one being announced today were in effect, the abortion rate hovered at about 23-25 abortions for every 1,000 women between the ages of 15-44. By 2014, that rate had dropped to about 12 abortions for every 1,000 women. Researchers attribute the drop to an increase in science-based sex education courses in schools (as opposed to abstinence-only courses) and to access to reliable, affordable birth control.
In fact, lawmakers who claim to be pro-life are responsible for driving up abortion rates. You can reliably track the anti-abortion presidential administrations by the uptick in abortions and unintended pregnancies in this country. A year from now, thanks to this administration, we’ll begin to see an increase in the number of abortions in America. We’ll also see an increase in sexually transmitted infections, maternal death rates, and infant mortality. There will be more unintended pregnancies and more women will die in childbirth.
When we ignore science and evidence-based research around sex and procreation, women and children suffer most of all. Personally, I think that’s the point. Too many lawmakers believe women ought to be punished for having sex, particularly poor women. They want us to suffer because we don’t share their views about morality. They have every right to hold those views, but no right to impose them on the rest of us. It’s particularly galling when the person imposing this rule is a man who once bragged that dodging STDs was his “personal Vietnam” and who, according to Bill Gates, does not know the difference between HPV and HIV.
Anyone who is anti-abortion should be firmly against any policy guaranteed to increase the number of abortions in this country. Otherwise, you’re not pro-life, you’re anti-woman and you’re a hypocrite.