In light of the growing number of Republican governors’ refusals to implement provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the most prominent of which being Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Rick Perry of Texas, it becomes prudent to contemplate the trends of access to care, residents’ health status and the political leanings of individual states across the country.
Anyone who pays attention to American politics has by now heard of the comment made by Hilary Rosen about Ann Romney never working a day in her life. Of course this erupted into a controversy given Rosen’s status as a Democratic pundit and strategist. Judging from the reactions, especially from the Right who are downright giddy over the whole thing, there is a need for some contextual perspective and maybe even a few facts.
Much has been made over the contraception mandate rules implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act with many conservative commentators asking why the public should pay for others to have sex. Along with the fallacious characterization of contraception use the controversy’s liberal use of the word “free” in conjunction with it introduces a whole other question. Are the proponents of these provisions really demanding free services or are they just looking to get their money’s worth?
Senate Bill 507, introduced by Republican Senator Glenn Grothman, moves to amend existing state law by “requiring the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”
The bill would require educational and public awareness campaigns held by the board to emphasize that not being married is abusive and neglectful of children, and to underscore “the role of fathers in the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect.”
Saying that people “make fun of old-fashioned families,” Grothman — who has never been married and has no children — criticized social workers for not agreeing that children should only be raised by two married biological parents, and told a state Senate committee that he hopes the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention board, of which he’s a member, could “publicize something that’s politically incorrect but has to be said in our society.”
In “How The United States and The State of Wisconsin Are Working to Encourage Single Motherhood and Discouraging Children in 2-Parent Families,” he wrote that the government urges women not to get married by making programs like low-income housing assistance, school choice, WIC, tax credits, and food stamps more attractive than marriage.
His solution? Restrict the types of foods that can be purchased with food stamps, make Section 8 housing more cramped and limit the value of assets owned living there to $2,000, and eliminate school choice, among other things.
There is something truly baffling about the 2012 presidential candidates hotly debating Planned Parenthood and birth control. These battles were fought — and won — half a century ago. At that time, the vast majority of Americans, nearly all mainstream religious organizations and leaders in both political parties accepted contraception as beneficial to families, society and the world.
The move toward mainstream acceptance of contraception began in the early 20th century and accelerated in the 1940s. In 1942, the Birth Control Federation of America changed its name to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Abraham Stone explained at the time that “planned parenthood” signaled “the need for individual couples to plan their families and for nations to plan their populations.”
As the birth control movement became mainstream, it still took several years for the nation’s leaders to endorse it. In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared: “I cannot imagine anything more emphatically a subject that is not a proper political or government activity or function or responsibility. . . .
Just a few years later, President John F. Kennedy — a Democrat and the nation’s first Catholic president — supported family-planning programs as part of foreign aid. Even Eisenhower, JFK’s Republican predecessor, eventually came around, admitting in the mid-1960s: “Once as President, I thought and said that birth control was not the business of our federal government. The facts changed my mind. . . . Governments must act. . . . Failure would limit the expectations of future generations to abject poverty and suffering and bring down upon us history’s condemnation.”
For the next two decades, every American president promoted contraception as an essential part of domestic and foreign policy. Even the Catholic Church considered lifting its prohibition on contraception — and almost did.
“But I don’t know that this [election cycle] is any worse than any other period when religious and racial preferences were expressed as cultural preference,” when a presidential election becomes an even more pointed referendum on what kind of society we want to construct.
He notes a disconnect among Republican voters between what the law currently requires and permits and “what people think Obama is requiring, and their perceptions go a long way to motivating them. You might think we would be better, and it is surprising that these cultural matters keep coming up this way.
Another fight is erupting over public education and vaccination requirments, this time in Queens. Unlike with most anti-vaccination situations, the objections aren’t coming from people whose faith in organic foods purchased at yuppie-tested enviroments are better disease prevention than vaccines, but from people returning to Old Faithful, the God card. The schools tolerate religous nuts who deprive their children of basic disease prevention most of the time, but if there are communicable diseases going around, unvaccinated kids have to go to keep the situation from getting worse. Now the parents are pitching a fit, unwilling to actually take responsibility for the faith they claim to hold so dear.
I was a Planned Parenthood affiliate chief executive, supervising a network of clinics in New York state, during the early days of this terrible recession. We ran deficits, cut hours, closed centers and laid off staff members. In a recession, things get very difficult — more and more people are in need, while government funds lag and donations dwindle. But still we did not turn patients away, even if they could not pay. At the same time, we had to fight political battles to preserve women’s rights to basic care and information about their sexual health.
Amid the debate, let’s address some of the misperceptions about this nearly 100-year-old health-care organization.
After the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood, attention has focused on its Vice President for Policy, Karen Handel. She joined the group last January after a failed run for governor in Georgia, where she had advocated defunding Planned Parenthood.
But there’s another woman who deserves equal credit: Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest. It’s her group that issued a report last fall, “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood,” that led to a probe by the Energy and Commerce Committee. And it’s that investigation that puts Planned Parenthood in violation of Komen’s new policy that bars funding of groups under investigation.
UPDATE: As of this morning the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has reversed their decision to eliminate their funding to Planned Parenthood. They clarified their previous position which was not to provide funding to organizations under investigation, which Planned Parenthood is by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Their new position is that “… disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.”
The pressure exerted by those who support Planned Parenthood, and all their services to low income families, over the last 24 hours illustrates the loudest voices from the far edges of the ideological spectrum do not represent the views of the majority.
Today, the Daily Scoop includes two studies that illustrate the overall need for increased education, awareness and availability of contraception. The first article compares abortion frequencies and related health impacts from countries with abortion bans and little to no family planning & contraception education versus those where abortion is legal and family planning is available.
The second discusses recent CDC study findings which illuminates general misconceptions of contraception and possibilities of becoming pregnant on the part of teen mothers.
Abortions Are More Common in Countries that Outlaw Them
Experts couldn’t say whether more liberal laws led to fewer procedures, but said good access to birth control in those countries resulted in fewer unwanted pregnancies.
The global abortion rate remained virtually unchanged from 2003 to 2008, at about 28 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, a total of about 43.8 million abortions, according to the study. The rate had previously been dropping since 1995.
About 47,000 women died from unsafe abortions in 2008, and another 8.5 million women had serious medical complications. Almost all unsafe abortions were in developing countries, where family planning and contraceptive programs have mostly levelled off.
CDC: Many teen moms didn’t think it could happen
In a survey of thousands of teenage mothers who had unintended pregnancies, about a third who didn’t use birth control said the reason was they didn’t believe they could pregnant.