Pro-choice advocates cite the Hyde Amendment as proof that the federal government is not funding abortion service…to Planned Parenthood, or anyone. However the Hyde Amendment allows federal Medicaid funding for abortions in cases of rape and incest, as well as life endangerment. Thus people like Sarah Palin who advocate defunding of federal funding of abortion are people who advocate death to any pregnant women whose life hangs in the balance due to a medical problem caused by the pregnancy, thereby killing the mother and child. These are also people who support prevention of abortion in cases of rape and incest for indigent women who couldn’t afford to pay for the abortion themselves.
The real debate is not whether abortion should be permitted, but whether federal dollars should be used to pay for the abortion. Since the Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade, women have had the right to decide whether abortion is the right choice for them, given their individual circumstances. By allowing federal dollars to be spent for birth control, and not for abortion services, it seems that we are necessarily limiting what fundamental rights indigent women have. Let me by specific. The pill is a form of birth control that is currently funded by the federal government. The pill doesn’t prevent conception but may prevent implantation. Thus the abortion debate is not a debate regarding “life” but instead “when life begins.”
Unintended pregnancy can have significant, negative consequences for individual women, their families and society as a whole. An extensive body of research links births resulting from unintended or closely spaced pregnancies to adverse maternal and child health outcomes and myriad social and economic challenges. In 2011, the most recent year for which national-level data are available, 45% of all pregnancies in the United States were unintended, including three out of four teen pregnancies. Economically disadvantaged women are disproportionately affected by unintended pregnancy and its consequences: In 2011, the unintended pregnancy rate among women with a family income lower than the federal poverty level, at 112 per 1,000, was more than five times the rate among women with an income greater than 200% of poverty (20 per 1,000).
Ninety five percent of unintended pregnancies are attributable to the one-third of women who do not use contraceptives or who use them inconsistently. Public programs—notably Medicaid and the Title X national family planning program—are central to women’s access to affordable contraceptive services and supplies. In 2014, 7.8 million women received publicly funded family planning services; these services helped women avoid 2 million unintended pregnancies, which would likely have resulted in 914,000 unplanned births. In the absence of publicly funded family planning services, the numbers of unintended pregnancies, unplanned births in the United States would have been 68% higher. Imagine the cost to the US taxpayers of 914,000 unplanned pregnancies per year that would have resulted in greater levels of poverty, and thus more and more unwanted pregnancies. Unintended pregnancies are costly to the federal and state governments, resulting in $21.0 billion in public expenditures in 2010. Yet, these costs could have been considerably higher: By helping women avoid unintended pregnancies, publicly funded family planning services saved taxpayers $13.6 billion in 2010, or $7.09 for every $1 spent.
Here are the facts regarding which women in the United States get the help they need:
- Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States each year—almost three million—are unintended.
- There were 67 million U.S. women of reproductive age (13–44) in 2014. More than half of these women (38 million) were in need of contraceptive services and supplies.
- Of the 38 million women in need of contraceptive care in 2014, 20 million were in need of publicly funded services and supplies because they either had an income below 250% of the federal poverty level or were younger than 20.
- Among the 20 million women in need of publicly funded contraceptive care, 77% (15.5 million) were poor or low-income adults, and 23% (4.7 million) were younger than 20.
- Implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s main coverage expansions in 2014 led to a significant decrease in the proportion of U.S. women who were uninsured. Between 2013 and 2014, the proportion of women in need of publicly funded services who were uninsured fell from 28% to 23%, a decrease of more than one million women. Of the 20 million women in need of publicly funded services in 2014, approximately 4.5 million were uninsured.
• Alaska’s unintended pregnancy rate in 2010 was 54 per 1,000 women aged 15–44. Nationally, rates among the states ranged from a low of 32 per 1,000 in New Hampshire to a high of 62 per 1,000 in Delaware.
• The teen pregnancy rate in Alaska was 59 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2011.
• In 2010, 60% of unintended pregnancies in Alaska resulted in births and 26% in abortions; the remainder resulted in miscarriages.
• In 2010, 3,000 or 64.3% of unplanned births in Alaska were publicly funded, compared with 68% nationally.
• In Alaska in 2010, the federal and state governments spent $113.7 million on unintended pregnancies; of this, $70.8 million was paid by the federal government and $42.9 million was paid by the state.
• The total public costs for unintended pregnancies in 2010 was $790 per woman aged 15–44 in Alaska, compared with $201 per woman nationally.
• In 2014, 41,200 Alaska women aged 13–44 were in need of publicly funded family planning services.
• In 2010, public expenditures for family planning client services in Alaska totaled $5.5 million; this includes $2.1 million through Medicaid and $1.9 million through Title X.
• Publicly funded family planning centers in Alaska helped avert 6,300 unintended pregnancies in 2014, which would have resulted in 3,100 unplanned births and 2,300 abortions.
• By averting unintended pregnancies and other negative reproductive health outcomes, publicly funded family planning services provided by safety-net health centers in Alaska helped save the federal and state governments $65.4 million in 2010.
Texas’ maternal mortality rates nearly doubled between 2010 and 2014. Clearly part of the reason for this spike in maternal mortality in Texas is the result of the state’s cut of family planning services and refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. In 2011, Texas lawmakers slashed the family planning budget by more than $70 million and, two years later, greatly reduced the number of abortion clinics in the state by mandating they meet ambulatory surgical center standards and employ doctors with admitting privileges at hospitals.
Women in the state are dying of pregnancy-related ailments at a higher rate than the rest of the country , and even most other industrialized countries.
The rate of maternal mortality in Texas spiked from 18.6 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010 to more than 30 per 100,000 in 2011 and remained over 30 per 100,000 through 2014.
Across the USA, the rate of maternal deaths also jumped from 18.8 per 100,000 live births in 2000 to 23.8 in 2014 – a 27% jump, the study showed.
Medicaid, previously provided health care for pregnant women in most states, but ran out six weeks after birth. This resulted in leaving low-income women at risk from lingering ailments. Now instead of enacting legislation to curb maternal deaths, Congress is working to ensure that indigent women are more at risk.
The reality is that sometimes the right to choose may be the only way to protect life. This is a personal story written on this blog 6 years ago. My nephew is alive because his mother had a choice.
- The right to choice is sometimes the right to life.
- Legislation to prevent funding abortions for indigent women exacerbates the maternal deaths in the country.
- Legislation to eliminate funding for medically necessary abortions results not in the promotion of life for a fetus,but ensuring death to the mother and fetus.
- Legislation to eliminate funding for abortions for victims of rape and incest ensures that for some women the trauma from her assault will continue for the rest of her life.
- When abortion services are not funded by the government, maternal deaths increase dramatically.
- When more children are born unwanted to indigent women, the cost to society is staggering. Previous research has demonstrated that investing in publicly funded family planning services enables women to avoid unwanted pregnancies and space wanted ones, which is good not only for women and families, but also for society as a whole. In the absence of the current U.S. publicly funded family planning effort, the public costs of unintended pregnancies in 2010 would have been 75% higher. Unintended pregnancies cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $11.1 billion dollars a year. Nearly two-thirds of unintended pregnancies — roughly a million births — have been publicly funded by Medicaid and other government programs. With the current state of health care, under the new bill passed by the House, the federal government will no longer pay for family planning services provided by Planned Parenthood. Instead we will pay for delivery services at country hospitals, many for high risk pregnancies, health care for the sick and dying mothers after giving birth, and for the outrageous expense of educating, feeding, and providing health care for the indigent child of the indigent mother who will inevitably guarantee the perpetuation of the cycle of unwed teen pregnancies in America.
Sarah Palin and “pro-life” advocates should realize that their positions promote death not life, expense not cost savings, and poverty not independence. In America by Heart Palin wrote:
“ … To avoid poverty, do three things: finish high school, marry before having a child, and produce the child after you are twenty years old. …of those who fail to do these, 79% will be poor.” America by Heart at 119.
Perhaps a better title for Sarah’s book would have been “America by the Heartless.”