Abortion, Condoms and Bush

Don't think for a second that the Christian-Taliban wants only to outlaw abortion: they also want to outlaw contraception. I am unsure if the Moralizer-in-Chief is sincere in his adherence to Christian-Talibanism precepts, or if it is as cynical as David Kuo asserts. I am concerned in either case.

Family Planning protest w 50 foot Giant Virgin Mary

Nicholas Kristof: Abortion, Condoms and Bush The evidence shows that condoms do more to bring down abortion rates than pious moralizing.

In 2003, the institute estimates, there were 1.29 million abortions in the U.S., 26,000 fewer than in President Bill Clinton's last year in office.

Yet abortions fell much faster under Mr. Clinton, and the evidence shows that condoms do more to bring down abortion rates than pious moralizing. That's why staunch "pro-life" presidents like Mr. Bush or Ronald Reagan have accomplished far less in reducing abortions than a "pro-choice" president like Mr. Clinton.

Here's the quick overview. After abortion was legalized in 1973, abortions surged under Democrats and Republicans alike and reached a peak of 1.6 million in 1990. President Reagan favored a constitutional amendment banning abortions, but in practice the number of abortions rose modestly on his watch.

One reason is that in half the states, family planning spending hasn't kept pace with inflation. Thus, at last count, 11 percent of sexually active women and girls were not using contraception even though they did not want babies, up from 7 percent in 1995. Half of unwanted pregnancies come from that group.

Then there's the rise in the poverty rate under Mr. Bush and the increase in the number of uninsured Americans. The number of women who say they need help paying for prescription contraceptives rose by one million between 2000 and 2004.

So let's require all health insurers to cover the cost of prescription contraceptives, as many already do. And let's increase our investment in family planning, since every tax dollar spent on contraceptives reduces Medicaid spending on pregnant women and newborn babies by $3.

The evidence is solid about how to reduce abortions: promote contraception and comprehensive sex education (rather than "abstinence only" programs). California has led the country in these areas, and as a result it cut teenage pregnancy rates by 39 percent over eight years.

Western Europe and Canada both emphasize sex education and family planning programs. The result is that American women are almost three times as likely to get abortions as women in Belgium or Germany. Or take Canada. Among women and girls aged 15 to 19, Americans are 38 percent more likely to get abortions than Canadians. And American teenagers, both boys and girls, are nearly 10 times as likely to catch gonorrhea.

Bush family members were pioneers in supporting the family planning services that can reduce abortion rates. President Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, lost an election for U.S. senator in Connecticut in 1950 partly because he was denounced for his ties to Planned Parenthood.

Later, George H. W. Bush was, as a young congressman, a prime sponsor of the 1970 public health program that provides family planning services in the U.S. He was so enthusiastic that his nickname then was Rubbers.

If Mr. Bush revived that legacy, he could lead a bipartisan campaign to promote sex education and increase access to contraceptives. Some experts estimate that this could cut the number of abortions in the U.S. by half a million annually. So Mr. Bush, step down from the pulpit, roll up your sleeves -- and go back to your family roots!

ha. Don't think that is on Karl Rove's powerpoint plan to drive the country into the third tier of nations.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on November 5, 2006 10:25 AM.

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