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Stupidest Budget Cuts Ever - or, Why Cutting Contraception Is Not Conservative

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: americans, congress, contraception, corruption, cover-up, dishonesty, economy, elections, ethics, freedoms, Govtfearmongering, healthcare, lies, media, politics, propaganda, republicans )

- 1919 days ago -
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A stitch in time saves nine. One dollar spent on contraception saves three on pregnancy and newborn care, and that is just the beginning.

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Kit B (276)
Saturday March 23, 2013, 3:33 pm
(Photo: Suzanne DeChillo / The New York Times)

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A stitch in time saves nine. One dollar spent on contraception saves three on pregnancy and newborn care, and that is just the beginning.

Nationally, we spend 11 billion taxpayer dollars a year on unintended pregnancies. But who's counting? Automatic cuts built into the sequester slashed $86 million from family planning and reproductive health care for poor women. But that is not enough for Congressional Republicans, who are trying yet again to roll back the contraceptive mandate. If there ever was an indication that they are more interested in ideology than balanced budgets, this is it.

Research published this fall showed that effective, affordable, accessible contraception dramatically drops the rate of unintended pregnancy and related public health costs. In the study, whose co-author explained that it was essentially designed to mimic what Obamacare would have provided, 9,000 St. Louis youth and women were offered the free contraceptive of their choice, three quarters chose a top-tier, long acting method - a state-of-the-art implant or IUD - and both teen pregnancy and abortion need plummeted. Two years later, the teen pregnancy rate was at 6 per 1,000 rather than the national average of 34. The abortion rate fell to 80 percent below the national average.

Unintended pregnancies can have broad ripple effects, straining family and community resources. Maternal drinking or poor nutrition in the weeks right before and after conception may increase birth defects, and as a consequence, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has launched a pre-conception nutrition campaign encouraging women to prepare before becoming pregnant.

Because of the strong correlation between unplanned pregnancy and poverty, most unplanned births are paid for on the public dime. In 2006, Oregon spent $72 million on births from unintended pregnancies. In Washington State, during fiscal year 2012, Medicaid paid $700 million for prenatal, delivery and infant care. When asked by the state Department of Health, approximately half of the women who received this care said that they would have preferred to get pregnant later or not at all. The State of California saved an estimated $2.2 billion over a five-year period by increasing birth-control access for residents who fell below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. But the public costs don't begin or end at birth.

Even with all of those public dollars flowing in to support moms and kids, the statistics are dismal, especially for teens. Only 40 percent of the girls who give birth between ages 15 and 17 ever graduate high school, compared to 90 percent of their peers. A mere 2 percent graduate from college by age 30. Their offspring are at higher risk to have mental health problems, health problems and academic problems. Male offspring are more likely to end up in the criminal justice system. Girls are more likely to end up pregnant as teens. We often want to give young people the most supportive, affirming perspective possible - to talk about what is possible rather than what is probable. But the reality is that the cycle of teen pregnancy and poverty stacks the odds against both moms and kids.

New York City is taking heat for what proponents have called a "brutally honest" ad campaign about teen pregnancy. It includes posters that say, "Dad, you'll be paying to support me for the next 20 years." "Honestly mom, chances are he won't stay with you." And "I'm twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen." Some teen advocates say the campaign is unnecessarily cruel or stigmatizing. But others, including some with firsthand experience, think that kids are best served by knowing what's real. Here's what one online commenter on an article about the campaign had to say: "Not all teen parents are terrible, mine happened to be great and always used their struggles as an example for us. Teen pregnancy is a vicious cycle. If this ad makes one teen think about the consequences of their actions, then it's worth it."

Some young women choose to get pregnant, but most of the problem is what I call go-with-the-flow childbearing. Half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended. For unmarried women under 30, that number is 70 percent. For teens, it is over 80 percent. A host of factors can interfere with effective contraception, including fatigue, forgetfulness, finances, domestic conflict, substance abuse and ambivalence. That is why long acting "fit and forget" methods like implants and IUDs are 10 to 50 times more effective than the pill, and why they are recommended by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. One in 12 women relying on the pill gets pregnant each year. (With condoms, that's one in eight; with no birth control, it's eight in ten.) With an IUD or implant, that rate drops below one in 500.

Teens are particularly unreliable at taking the pill, and are even more vulnerable than older women to barriers including costs and delays. Asking a teen to come back next week or go to another clinic can be one step too many, so public health experts increasingly recommend bringing services to youth via the growing system of school-based health clinics. But this requires that teens have the right to access services. When the state of Texas implemented parental notification requirements for teens seeking contraception and abortions, the teen birth rate went up, second trimester abortions went up, and state budgets took a hit to the tune of $40 million annually. When Texas cut funding for family services in 2011 as a way to kill Planned Parenthood, state budgets took another hit. Health officials projected last year that the $73 million in cuts would produce 24,000 additional unplanned births, costing the taxpayers $273 million. Now Texas Republicans are quietly proposing to restore the funding.

In Washington State, the Supreme Court ruled that the state has failed in its duty to fund education, which has put other programs, possibly including contraception, on the chopping block. Should this happen, we know the consequences. Unintended pregnancies disproportionately increase the need for special services in education, and they lower graduation rates. In King County, home of Seattle, approximately 300 babies are born each year to girls between the ages of 15 and 17. That's enough to fill an entire grade school when those kids hit kindergarten. It doesn't have to be this way. As the St. Louis lesson teaches, we now have the technology and tools to make most unintended pregnancy, teen pregnancy and abortion-need things of the past.

Cutting family planning is not conservative - not from the standpoint of conserving funding, nor from the standpoint of taking a precautionary approach to public health, nor from the standpoint of listening to the wisdom of our ancestors. Foresight is a hallmark of intelligence. It is also the virtue that our grandparents extolled when they quoted those old sayings - a pound of prevention, a stitch in time. Winston Churchill put it thus: "Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel ... until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong, these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history."

In the Bible, the book of Proverbs opens with these words: "The proverbs of Solomon, David's son who was king of Israel, given to grasp wisdom and discipline, to understand deep thoughts, to acquire the discipline of wise behavior - righteousness and justice and fairness - to give insight to gullible people, to give knowledge and foresight to the young." Any parenting book will tell you that the best way to teach plan-fulness or foresight to young people is to model it. Someone should tell Congress.

By Valerie Tarico, Truthout | Op-Ed |

Past Member (0)
Saturday March 23, 2013, 4:53 pm
this is ridiculous Cheers Kit

Roger G (154)
Saturday March 23, 2013, 6:54 pm
noted, thanks!

JL A (281)
Saturday March 23, 2013, 7:11 pm
Excellent summary demonstrating that those cutting this funding do not deserve to call themselves fiscally conservative.

Kit B (276)
Saturday March 23, 2013, 7:18 pm

I'm sending this article on to King Perry, the Texas legislature, and each member of Congress. I'm not sure that it will be read, but I can try.

Past Member (0)
Sunday March 24, 2013, 6:30 am
But you assume the cuts come from reducing birth control medicine, I assume that there are many other activities or cost that can be reduce that will not have a negative impact. Especially since the article posted quotes says we "spend 11 billion taxpayer dollars a year on unintended pregnancies" but the study referenced indicates "public-sector expenditures for contraceptive services totaled an estimated $412 million. Now, I am only a consultant, but does that indicate some wiggle room?

Nancy M (169)
Sunday March 24, 2013, 7:54 am
Great article Kit.

But your do know darn well that if conservatives have their way, all those expenses would be cut for pregnancies and children. Women would be out in the cold. JMHO.

Ro H (0)
Sunday March 24, 2013, 10:34 am

Janet R (38)
Sunday March 24, 2013, 12:35 pm
No one can ever accuse the Republicans of being intelligent.

Yvonne White (229)
Sunday March 24, 2013, 2:46 pm
But this plan is perfect for the CONservative War on Women - barefoot & pregnant is their preferred view of "rowdy girls". Of course those same CONservatives don't want to pay to raise those babies (or their own in some instances) - but it's all on the babies to raise themselves up by their baby-bootie straps!;) Survival of the fittest - Social Darwinism from the same Reich-wingers who supposedly Don't believe in Evolution..CONservatives are horribly conflicted, confused, & just plain Criminal in their "management" of Our Resources!

Lois Jordan (63)
Sunday March 24, 2013, 3:28 pm
Yes, there is a major disconnect within the GOP when they state that they want gov't out of our personal life; yet they want to intrude upon the lives of women in the most intrusive way possible.

Birgit W (160)
Sunday March 24, 2013, 3:55 pm

Robert K (31)
Sunday March 24, 2013, 5:03 pm
The rarest thing around these days is an honest conservative. Hot on their heels is the extremely rare real conservative.

marie C (163)
Sunday March 24, 2013, 6:23 pm
10 out of 10 for trying Kit as usual you always try so hard to make a difference

Susanne R (235)
Sunday March 24, 2013, 10:59 pm
It's conservatism alright. Unfortunately, it's not "compassionate" conservatism. They claim to be cutting funding for contraception to those women who need it most in order to save money, yet the the lack of contraception results in unplanned pregnancies and all the problems and expenses that come with them. I've said this before, and I believe it to be true: I think the Republicans are ensuring the creation of children destined to be poor and undereducated so they'll enlist in the military and fight their dirty little wars. Let's face it: they're not creating jobs, even though their corporate masters are sitting on record profits, so what's an 18-year old without any options supposed to do? Join the military, of course. And once they do, their destinies are no longer in their hands. The Republicans operate like factory farms. They make sure the breeders keep breeding and give them only as much as they need to survive until they can use them to their advantage. There's no Christian charity and no compassion. How much could it possibly cost to provide IUDs that are long-acting, low maintenance and very effective?

What other motive could they possibly have for going to such great lengths to prevent the use of contraception? To save money? Sorry. The alternative is much more costly.

cathie S (154)
Monday March 25, 2013, 12:52 am

Marcel Elschot (347)
Monday March 25, 2013, 5:40 am
Noted, thank you

Scott haakon (4)
Wednesday March 27, 2013, 2:04 am
Stop looking at this so narrowly. The bottom line is economics. The powers that be are stuck in the 19th century. Growth is still the goal except that the technology has not caught up in the field of exploration. There are no (at this time) new worlds to move excess population to. Yet most social services were based on growth to fund them. .
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