Vilifying Contraception

The most important way for conservatives to roll back access to family planning is to link it to abortion. To wit, at the Faith and Freedom Conference last week, Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser declared: “Every year that contraception and family planning increases, the abortion rate also increases in direct proportion. … This is an undeniable fact.” SBA List will not support a candidate that does not want to defund Planned Parenthood because of this faux-causal relationship between contraception and abortion.

Not only is this nonsensical, but there's evidence to the contrary. For example, a study released this week by the Guttmacher Institute reports that between 2000 and 2008, the U.S. abortion rate declined overall but went up for poor women. Poor women are less likely to have health care, meaning they have a harder time getting family planning services and rely more heavily on organizations like Planned Parenthood. According to the report's author:

“That abortion is becoming increasingly concentrated among poor women suggests the need for better contraceptive access and family planning counseling. It certainly appears these women are being underserved…Antiabortion restrictions and cuts to publicly funded family planning services disproportionately affect poor women, making it even more difficult for them to gain access to the contraceptive and abortion services they need.”

Meanwhile, a second report crunched the numbers and came to the same conclusion, this time assessing the impact of Title X funding which largely serves poor women, often in Planned Parenthood's clinics: "[W]ithout the services provided at Title X–supported centers, levels of unintended pregnancy and abortion in the United States would be one-third higher than they are."

So the notion that Planned Parenthood is increasing the number of abortions by providing contraception is demonstrably false. Dannenfelser's statement has nothing to do with facts and everything to do with the idea that women should, literally, bear the consequences of having sex. 

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