If anti-abortion proponents really want to drastically reduce the number of abortions in America, instead of just using the issue to score political points, there is a straightforward solution: Provide decent health care for low-income women.
In his book, “Sex and the Constitution,” University of Chicago constitutional scholar Geoffrey R. Stone notes that while poor women make up 15 percent of the population, they account for 42 percent of all abortions.
This isn’t because they want to have more abortions. It’s because their underfunded, substandard, erratic and chaotic health care leaves them little alternative. The situation is only likely to become worse as more red states line up to adopt Republican cuts in Medicaid that will make it even harder for poor women to get regular checkups.
Because of limited medical options, low-income women have a much lower rate of effective contraception than women higher on the income scale. With regular gynecological care, there’s every reason to expect that poor women’s use of contraception would resemble that of other women in the United States.
Unfortunately, that’s not currently the case. The result of ignoring poor women’s health needs is that we end up with approximately 600,000 more unplanned pregnancies and 300,000 more abortions each year than if we provided all women with accessible medical care.
If we truly want to lower the abortion rate, we should be increasing funding for organizations such as Planned Parenthood. “De-fund Planned Parenthood” may be an effective slogan for whipping up the conservative base. But for the hundreds of thousands of additional fetuses that will be aborted each year due to wretched health care for low-income women, that slogan is a death sentence.
Well-funded health care translates into vastly fewer abortions. Isn’t that what “pro-life” people say they want?
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Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion