I remember when I posted this little gem, showing the direct correlation between those states in the US that promote fact-free abstinence only “education” and the staggering rise of teen pregnancy and spread of STIs. Needless to say, it’s the direct result of having evangelical Christianity influence the education system in a way that is not based on science, logic, or any factual evidence whatsoever … but instead on fear, control, and a moral superiority that enables people to become willing to sacrifice an entire generation to show that their way is the right way. It’s little wonder considering how preventing kids from learning how to safely engage in sexual activity with a thorough understanding of the risks and precautions will have potentially deadly consequences.
What’s especially unconscionable is that the “education” programs in these states deliberately lie to children and teenagers in a horrifically misguided attempt to scare them away from engaging in sexual activity. Again, it’s a position rooted in religious dogma that does nothing more than make the situation far worse with no measurable gain.
Anyway, I saw an article today related to this. While we have high teen pregnancy and STI rates in states that don’t acknowledge the reality of teenage sexual activity, some new studies have shown something that should come as absolutely no surprise whatsoever to most of you …
(Who would have guessed?)
Providing birth control to women at no cost substantially reduced unplanned pregnancies and cut abortion rates by 62 percent to 78 percent over the national rate, a new study shows. The research, by investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, appears online Oct. 4 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
In other words, these are real scientists working in an actual university doing this study and arriving to these conclusions … instead of the usual flock of pearl-clutching truthologists who peddle the idea that ignoring a problem or lying about it will make it go away.
Among a range of birth control methods offered in the study, most women chose long-acting methods like intrauterine devices (IUDs) or implants, which have lower failure rates than commonly used birth control pills. In the United States, IUDs and implants have high up-front costs that sometimes aren’t covered by health insurance, making these methods unaffordable for many women.
John Stewart said (more than) once, “America has the best health case system in the world … if you can afford it.” To be sure, he’s not the only one to make that observation – I’ve made it myself – but even with health insurance and a steady job, some of these measures are just too expensive for some people who are on a limited budget. Combine this with the very real problem of the GOP severely limiting – or even eliminating – funding for Planned Parenthood in some states, the prospect of low income women being able to access reliable methods of birth control like this is very bleak indeed.
“The impact of providing no-cost birth control was far greater than we expected in terms of unintended pregnancies,” says lead author Jeff Peipert, MD, PhD, the Robert J. Terry Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “We think improving access to birth control, particularly IUDs and implants, coupled with education on the most effective methods has the potential to significantly decrease the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions in this country.”
Let’s walk through this very briefly:
- Evangelicals and social conservatives call themselves “pro-life”.
- They oppose abortion.
- Abortion is the result of either an unwanted pregnancy or one that has gone terribly wrong.
- Unwanted pregnancies are caused by either a failure, improper use, or non-use of birth control.
- These three factors can be prevented, to some degree, by comprehensive sex education and the accessibility of reliable birth control.
- Evangelicals and social conservatives spend much of their time trying to prevent both items mentioned in Item 5.
There’s no other way to put it. The best way to prevent unwanted pregnancy – and, in effect, abortion – is to provide education and access to birth control. These two things are opposed by elements of our society because they are convinced that doing so will encourage “immorality”. As such, there is little sympathy for those who end up pregnant or stricken with disease as a result of their actions since it is considered a “punishment” for straying from their interpretation of proper moral conduct.
Clearly, not caring for the poor, sick, or the children of these immoral women is acceptable if you have a message to send to the masses.
The remainder of the article goes into the details of the study, to which I can’t add too much other than a recommendation to read it if you’re interested. It’s not very long, and it shows the positive effect of proper counseling and availability of health care is, especially for those who find it difficult to access. The reference to the journal article is here:
Peipert JF, Madden T, Allsworth JE, Secura GM. Preventing unintended pregnancies by providing no-cost contraception. Obstetrics & Gynecology. Online Oct. 4, 2012.
… as well as a video summarizing the issues from the website of the Washington University of St. Louis: