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Jul 31, 2009
Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio is a “Pro-Life” Democrat. Just not according to Democrats for Life of America. Representative Ryan was a member of the organization for four years, but was recently kicked out because of his support for access to and use of contraceptives and of comprehensive sex education classes. His views were represented in his current legislation, called the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act. Apparently, trying to prevent unintended pregnancy, and therefore reduce the need for abortions, is not something “Pro-Life” organizations are about.
I was surprised to learn from this article on the Huffington Post, that:
There’s not one pro-life group in the United States that supports contraception. Rather, many lead campaigns against contraception.
This is, however, a greatly unbalanced representation of the “Pro-Life” community, considering that:
The vast majority of pro-life Americans, 80%, support contraception.
Rep. Tim Ryan sees this as the “new fault line” of the issue. He says:
“[This] is not between pro-life and pro-choice people. It’s within the pro-life community. The question now is: ‘are you pro-life and pro-contraception, therefore trying to reduce the need for abortions, or are you pro-life and against contraception and you hope that people’s lives improve just by hoping it, wishing it so.’"
The new legislation that Ryan is putting forward, along with his co-sponsor Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), would do the following…
Ryan’s legislation increases funding for contraception, expands supports for poor women who wish to carry to term, backs comprehensive sex ed programs that have been proven to work, and creates more incentives for adoptive families.
I say it’s about time that people get serious about this issue. That may seem like an odd thing to say, considering that people have been fighting back and forth over abortion and contraception for decades. The politics and legislation around these and related issues has basically been going in circles. It’s time for an honest, direct approach. Just look at the facts:
Two thirds of American women on contraception are using it correctly. And from this group comes 5% of the nation’s unintended pregnancies. Compare this to the 16% of women who are sexually active, at risk of getting pregnant and not using any form of contraception. That group, though much smaller, represents 52% of nation’s unintended pregnancies. Then there’s the 19% of women who are using contraception but incorrectly or inconsistently; from that group comes 43% of unintended pregnancies. The greatest opportunity to reduce the need for abortion is to focus the 95% of unintended pregnancies that are highly preventable. The plan is simple: address the lack of and incorrect use of contraception.
It’s quite simple folks. If you increase the correct and consistent use of contraceptives, you decrease the risk of unintended pregnancy, which decreases the number of abortions. These trends go hand in hand. You cannot expect to reduce the number of abortions if you take no action to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. Teaching children abstinence-only-until-marriage will not do this. Locking up condoms in drug stores will not do this. Wishful thinking will not do this. There’s only one way to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, and that is to use a form of contraception correctly and consistently.
If “Pro-Life” organizations honestly and truly wanted to reduce the number of abortions in this country, they would be in support of comprehensive sex education, teaching kids the many facets of sexuality and sexual health and responsibility, including the use of contraception. But they’re not. Not one of them is in favor of this.
This is something the 80% of “Pro-Life” Americans who support the use of contraceptives need to be aware of. When they support legislation or policy that is supported by a “Pro-Life” organization, they need to know the truth. They and the organization both want to reduce the number of abortions, but how they intend to do that is incredibly important.
Congressman Ryan believes that it’s past time for a “Pro-Life” group that supports contraception and comprehensive education. He thinks that such a group would “expose those who really aren’t interested in reducing the need for abortion.” I agree. “Pro-Life” Americans can no longer assume that the organizations they support are working effectively toward shared goals. It’s time that the organizations of wishful yet deluded thinking are exposed for what they really are. We need to stop giving credit where it is not due. The facts are clear, but many groups are still refusing to see them. Why? I don’t know. It doesn’t make any rational sense. They say they want something, but when they are presented with a proved way to get it, they refuse it and shoot the messenger. Or, in this case, fire him.
“I went to the Democrats for Life of America’s national board meeting that they had in DC a few years back and there were 50 board members or so and I gave them my pitch: If you’re really for reducing abortions you’ve gotta be for contraception. I gave them all the statistics on unintended pregnancy and that most abortions take place for women within 200% of poverty and all this stuff and it just didn’t resonate with them at all and so we had this stark disagreement and I got the boot."