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What if one day you woke up to a news story like this?
Feb 24: Tony Perkins, President of the formerly anti-abortion Family Research Council, admitted to the Associated Press that the organization's previously stated mission of saving the "unborn" had been ceded to other priorities. Perkins, who opposes preventing abortion through contraception, says, "The issue is whether taxpayers should fund, and thereby encourage, behavior that's risky and morally questionable," by which Perkins means having sex.
The acknowledgment that his moral agenda trumps his professed desire to reduce the numbers of unwanted pregnancies, comes on the heels of a new report released today by the Guttmacher Institute, a non-partisan policy institute frequently cited by both sides of the abortion debate. The report found that increasing access to contraception is the most effective approach to reducing unwanted pregnancy rates and the need for abortion. That report specifically concluded that making contraception available to low income women reduces the number of abortions by nearly 40%. When birth control isn't available unintended pregnancy increases by 2 million and the number of abortions spikes by more than 800,000 each year. Researchers noted that providing contraception saves taxpayers 4 times as much as not providing it.
Some 91% of Americans favor contraception and so were startled to discover that groups which claim to be against abortion oppose the very strategy that results in significant declines in abortion. Instead, in a further shock, they support policies that researchers show lead to sharp increases in unintended pregnancy and abortion rate. Many ordinary self-described "pro-life" Americans were confused by news of the seemingly incomprehensible, yet universally-held, position of groups that have, for decades, promoted themselves as opponents of abortion.
In light of the new information, other groups formerly considered anti-abortion indicated that deep and long-held political grudges played a primary role in their unwillingness to support policies that reduce abortion. Troy Newman of Operation Rescue told the AP, "It's another Planned Parenthood bailout," referring to largest provider of prevention services in the US, "It covers their overhead."
Sometimes referred to as "The Pro-life Paradox," researchers and women's health advocates in recent years have drawn attention to the disparities between the mission statements of so-called "anti-abortion" groups and the effects of their policies. For example, the countries considered the most "pro-choice," where contraception is widely available and abortion is legal, and often free of charge, are those that also have the lowest abortion rates in the world. The countries with the highest rates of abortion are those that have adopted the policies of the so-called "anti-abortion" movement and have banned abortion and opposed efforts to make contraception more widely available.
Now, of course, comes that part in the movie where you realize the main character has been dreaming. Screechy music... Of course, the report is true, as are the quotes in this story, but the so-called anti-abortion movement refuses to admit that its long held political and fundraising habits have worked too well to now be abandoned, and so continues to resist common cause (and common sense). And the equally habit worn media continues to cover this story as if there are really two equally sincere but unfortunately opposed voices. Americans want this common sense approach. The fringe doesn't. In fact, 80 percent of voters believe that women won't achieve full equality without access to family planning and 72 percent want federal funding to help pay for birth control for low-income women. Now that the enabler in chief is out of office, hopefully the marginal will be marginalized, and along with them their media enablers.
This post originally appeared on RH Reality Check--Information, commentary and community for Reproductive Health and Justice.