Tag Archives: contraception

Population boom: teen and unmarried mothers

Population: n. : the whole number of people or inhabitants in a country or region

More babies were born (4.3 million) in the US in 2007 than any other year in our history. Two particular statistics fly in the face of rhetoric from the religious right:

1. The teen birth rate is up again, for a second year in a row. So much for “abstinence only”.

Even at the low point in 2005, the United States had the highest rates of teenage pregnancy, birth and abortion of any industrialized country. Because teenage births carry higher risks of medical problems and poverty for mother and child, state health agencies, schools and private groups have mounted educational campaigns to deter teenage pregnancy.

2. Forty percent (40%!) of last year’s births – to mothers of all ages – were to single women.  Which leads me to believe that heterosexuals don’t much care about the institution of marriage …  and it has nothing to do with gays marrying (or not).

Along with the boom in birth (less contraceptive use?), we’re seeing a decrease in abortions.

What I want to know is how many of these new babies were really wanted by their mothers? And if many were not wanted, what problems with troubled children are we going to see in a few years?

Another worrisome trend is the continuing increase in C-section use:

In yet another record high, the share of deliveries by Caesarean section reached 32 percent in 2007, up 2 percent from 2006. Experts have repeatedly said some C-sections are not medically necessary and impose excess costs, but the rate has steadily climbed, from 21 percent in 1996.

Not only are C-sections expensive and invasive, but the baby’s long-term health may be jeopardized:

Swiss researchers are reporting in the journal Thorax this month that a Caesarean delivery is linked to a much higher risk for asthma compared with babies born vaginally.

In a study of nearly 3,000 children, the researchers found that 12 percent had been given a diagnosis of asthma by age 8. In that group, those born by C-section were nearly 80 percent more likely than the others to develop asthma. The explanation may be that a vaginal birth “primes” a baby’s immune system by exposing it to various bacteria as it moves through the birth canal.

Pro-Life? How do you respond?

Pro-life: n. code word for (usually) Christian conservatives meaning that you oppose abortion.

Mike Huckabee called me the other night. Well, Mike, the former gov of Arkansas, former fattie, former presidential candidate and current talk show host (of course… what better way to stay in the public eye in preparation for his next run) didn’t actually call me in person; his robot did.

“Hi,” said his computer voice, “this is Governor Mike Huckabee – I want to ask you a couple of questions… Did you vote in the last election?”

Since I always want to hear what Republicans are currently spinning, and because it’s true, I said yes.

“Do you consider yourself pro-life?” Huckabee’s voice asked.

Now this stumped me for a minute, because I’m “pro” lots of things. I mean who wouldn’t be pro “LIFE”? It’s better than the alternative, as Woody Allen once said.

Framing the anti-abortion movement as being “pro-life” was a stroke of linguistic genius because the most natural oppositional phrases are “pro-death”, “anti-life” or “pro-abortion” – all of which sound bad, even though none of them are accurate descriptions of those who believe women have the right to choose whether to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term or not.

Planned Parenthood used to have a brilliant slogan: “Every child a wanted child.”  It conveys the heart of the matter: a woman should be able to control her own fertility because who knows better her ability to bear, love and raise that child? No child should have to bear the burden of being born to someone who doesn’t want him. God knows, in this world a kid has a hard enough time getting the love, support, health care and education he deserves being raised by parents who wanted him. Unfortunately every community around the world has growing populations of homeless men, women and children who lacked that nurturance.

Anyway, back to Mike and me.

He took my stammering for a YES and plunged on with the true purpose of his call – to pass along the scary lie that Obama’s top priority was to pass a law to make it possible for anyone to perform an abortion on any woman anywhere anytime.  Now, if I had known Mike was going to call with such a load of codswallop, I’d have figured out how to record the call so I could quote him exactly and could parse the statement phrase by phrase…

The message was paid for by Americans United for Life, but I believe he’s done various versions of the message for other pro-life groups as well.  They are nothing if not well organized and well-funded.

I totally deplore fear-mongering as a persuasion technique – and the Right specializes in it – that and reducing the issue to its most simplistic even if the truth must be twisted or ignored to get there.  Those of us on the left have a greater interest in facts , even if they’re messy and complex to communicate.

So back to “pro-life”.

Our standard catch phrase response is “pro-choice”, which, though truthful,  lacks the emotional impact of “pro-life.”  We are certainly not “pro-abortion”; we’d much prefer the pregnancy be avoided thru the use of contraceptives. But contraception can fail and women do get raped.

Some of us believe we could call the pro-lifers “pro-fetus, anti-child,” because once the child is born conservative ideology says taxpayers shouldn’t have to support “welfare mothers” who can’t make ends meet raising kids alone.

We could also call them the “forced pregnancy” squad.

My own definition of pro-life means we respect the mother’s right to choose to give life or not. And if she does, we as a society are there to help her succeed as a parent and to help her child grow up to be a healthy, responsible, educated and contributing member of society.

Palin Pregnancy: poster child for “abstinence only”?

For awhile rumors flew that the Palin’s fifth child was actually their 17-year-old daughter Bristol’s. But now we learn that Bristol is five months pregnant herself, which lays the first story to rest, but brings up another:

Abstinence only.

It worked so well for Bristol. So now there will be a shot gun wedding. The family will be lauded for their support of their wayward daughter and for accepting the new challenges “God” has brought into their lives.

Those who like their women pregnant and barefoot will applaud this whole charade. Meanwhile those who believe public policy should give women control over their own bodies just suffered another blow.

Maybe Bristol’s marriage will work out. Occasionally the high school flame is good for life. Mostly not though. And many kids who become pregnant because they were “abstinent” have no family support or understanding.

Here’s another question: do we want a vice-president who’s in the middle of two family dramas – rearing a baby with Down Syndrome, and dealing with a pregnant teen?  Just getting up to speed on foreign policy should be filling Palin’s every waking hour from now till she loses the election.

Poison Pill for Planned Parenthood from the Bush administration

The Bush administration has it out for women (and the environment and the poor and our civil rights and our servicemen and and and and…). Their latest attack on the rights of women to have access to reproductive health care just came down (from the Washington Post):

The Bush administration yesterday announced plans to implement a controversial regulation designed to protect doctors, nurses and other health-care workers who object to abortion from being forced to deliver services that violate their personal beliefs.

The rule empowers federal health officials to pull funding from more than 584,000 hospitals, clinics, health plans, doctors’ offices and other entities if they do not accommodate employees who refuse to participate in care they find objectionable on personal, moral or religious grounds.

“People should not be forced to say or do things they believe are morally wrong,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “Health-care workers should not be forced to provide services that violate their own conscience.”

The proposed regulation, which could go into effect after a 30-day comment period*, was welcomed by conservative groups, abortion opponents and others as necessary to safeguard workers from being fired, disciplined or penalized in other ways. Women’s health advocates, family planning advocates, abortion rights activists and others, however, condemned the regulation, saying it could create sweeping obstacles to a variety of health services, including abortion, family planning, end-of-life care and possibly a wide range of scientific research.

What this means – if the public doesn’t make a big enough fuss – is that pharmacists, doctors, nurses and others don’t have to provide birth control pills, Plan B emergency contraception and other forms of contraception if they think it’s wrong, and explicitly allows workers to withhold information about such services and refuse to refer patients elsewhere.

Planned Parenthood is fighting this ruling and urges people to contact their congressperson, the Dept of HHS, newspapers, etc.  And of course Planned Parenthood will accept your contributions to their action fund so they can fight it.

I can imagine a time when a vegetarian grocery checker will refuse to check you out if there’s meat in your cart, a teacher will refuse to teach your child because he’s Muslim, a fundamentalist waiter will refuse to serve a couple because they’re gay…   What is WITH these people????

*The 30-day comment period means YOU – speak up!  Here’s the Dept of Health and Human Services comment site.  (No matter that it appears the comments are about the website; this is where you comment).