Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

The Contraception Freakout

Posted in politics, Republicans, women's rights by allisonkilkenny on January 26, 2009

American Prospect

originalI’ve never bought the idea that opposition to abortion is solely about controlling women’s bodies. I’ve just known too many people who were genuinely sincere in their religious beliefs that abortion is wrong. But I’ve seen little evidence that conservatives’ hostility to contraception, to methods that prevent unwanted pregnancies and therefore abortions, from taking place, could be anything else. Steve Benen writes, via Elana Schor, that Republicans are opposed to money in the stimulus bill that would help state governments assist low-income women in getting contraception coverage:

What’s being proposed is an expansion in the number of states that can use Medicaid money, with a federal match, to help low-income women prevent unwanted pregnancies. Of the 26 states that already have Medicaid waivers for family planning, eight are led by Republican governors (AL, FL, MS, SC, CA, LA, MN and RI — a ninth, MO, had a GOP governor until this past November). If this policy is truly a taxpayer gift to “the abortion industry,” as John Boehner and House Republicans claim, where are the GOP governors promising to end the program in their states? 

Additionally, the process of obtaining a waiver for Medicaid family-planning coverage is extremely cumbersome. A letter written by Wisconsin health regulators in 2007 noted that some states have had to wait for as long as two years before their request was approved. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that eliminating the waiver requirement would save states $400 million over 10 years.

Beyond the fact that this policy would save the government money in the long run (a finding from the same office that didn’t produce that report on the stimulus), are Republicans really arguing that unwanted pregnancies don’t result in a significant financial burden for families that are already struggling in an economy that’s likely to get worse? What’s the moral justification for denying them the choice of preventing pregnancies they don’t want? That having sex should be predicated on yearly income?

— A. Serwer
 


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