The DNC is starting to ramp up in Charlotte. In fact, scores of protestors have begun to gather in Charlotte in preparation for Tuesday’s start. A few years ago the DNC had their convention in Boston, and I was living nearby. To be frank, it was hellish and I am a Democrat. I was living near the convention center and was fortunate enough to have a job close enough that I could walk. During convention week, trying to get to and from work was pure hell. My annoyance with the layout of the city has been well documented, now add in hundreds of convention attendees, protestors, gawkers, etc. and suddenly my 15 minute walk becomes a 30 minute run through hell. Dante had less trouble trying to navigate his way to paradise.
That being said, there is something unique as an American to experience our political process. I get amped up about the issues as much as the next person and when it comes time to vote, I do it with gusto.
Which is why Katie’s recent post really struck a cord with me. I too support choice. But when I was arguing with a conservative friend, I was told point blank that the abortion debate is a red-herring. It shouldn’t even be an issue, instead I should be concerned with jobs, the economy, government spending, etc.
I called bullshit.
To be fair, I am worried about jobs, the economy, and all of those issues as well. But, these issues tie into being pro-choice. The abortion debate is an economic debate.
Birth Control costs roughly $10-$50 a month, if you have insurance. Don’t have insurance? Well too bad. Mother Jones has a handy calculator tool so you can see the difference. And it is eye opening. In fact, according to the Guttmacher Institute, 18% of women on the pill in households that make less than $75,000 a year will use the pill on an inconsistent basis to save money. That’s a hell of a gamble, so I was thrilled when President Obama pushed through that contraceptives must be covered by the government.
But sometimes the unthinkable happens, contraception fails, you take chances, or god forbid, you are raped (and really, rape is rape is rape, and there is no shutting of the whole thing down.) There are many women or families that are not prepared financially to bring to term a child, or even want to. In fact, about 49% of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended. Not only that, but those who do decide to carry to term, in 10 states and the District of Columbia, at least 70% of births resulting from unintended pregnancies were paid for by public programs. Louisiana and Mississippi had the highest proportions, at 81% each.
If you are anti-choice, that’s great, but you need to be prepared to shell out some heavy tax dollars in order to support pre and post-natal care. The best way to avoid unintended pregnancies? Publicly funded family planning services (aka Planned Parenthood.) In fact, in 2006, they helped prevent 1.94m unintended pregnancies. That is a hell of a cost-savings benefit.
The demonizing that the right wing has done against Planned Parenthood boggles my mind. On one hand they applaud mothers for making the greatest sacrifice. Ann Romney gave a stirring speech at the RNC praising the role of the mother. However, with the other hand, they keep attacking programs that provide pre and postnatal support. What women hear is that “That is great that you are a mother. We love our mothers, but guess what? You get no help from us!”
No one is asking the government to raise everyone’s children, but in the United States, where maternity leave policies are far from generous, and child-care costs are out-pacing most people’s salaries, something has to give. (Anecdote: I have had female friends give up working to become stay at home moms, not because it is what they wanted, but because it was cheaper than to pay for daycare.)
For our country to prosper, we need to provide a wide array of services for women to make safe and informed choices. The New England Journal of Medicine states,
History suggests that there will always be abortions. The goal should be to reduce the abortion rate by reducing unintended pregnancies, while providing safe, legal services for women who need them. Making access to abortion unnecessarily costly will probably result in clandestine abortions and unintended childbearing among families with the least resources and the fewest options.
And, that is far from a red-herring.