The Guttmacher Institute, the think tank for Planned Parenthood, has recommended public funding of contraceptive services and supplies for young women and women in poverty. While their headline focuses on poor women, the fine print also includes young women.
The recommendation, in effect, helps Planned Parenthood get around parents in order to provide contraception for teenagers and to get the federal government to satisfy Planned Parenthood’s gluttony at the federal trough. Moreover, the public has a right to know that Planned Parenthood’s idea of contraceptive services includes abortion and they are the largest abortion provider in the nation. It is worth noting that the institute’s research was funded through a federal grant from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Guttmacher’s just-released email alert claims that since the year 2000 one million more women are in need of contraceptive services; that’s a little over 17 million women of reproductive age in the United States “needing” publicly funded contraceptive services and supplies. Why is this? Because they are sexually active and don’t want to have children. According to the Guttmacher data, these women “either have incomes below 250% of the federal poverty level or are younger than 20.” Also according to Guttmacher, women in these categories have increased by 6 percent since 2000.
We should note that Guttmacher chose an upper income cutoff of 250% of the federal poverty level which in 2004 for a single woman without children comes to more than $24,000, if she has one child it amounts to $32,550, and if she has two children it is a little over $38,000. If they had spelled out the income cut-off levels clearly in actual dollar terms rather than as percentages, readers might decide Guttmacher is stretching it somewhat to say that women with incomes as high as these amounts constitute persons in need of public funding of their contraceptive “supplies and services.”
Also worth noting is that women younger than 20 (ages 15 to 19) have increased by only a little over 4 percent from 2000 to 2005 — well below the 6 percent total Guttmacher calculated with their “generous” 250% income cutoff. Many in the public do not believe that unmarried young girls should be encouraged to be sexually active by receiving contraceptives funded by their tax dollars. How would such a policy be different from providing a pyromaniac – already in possession of matches and gasoline – with a fire extinguisher and then lecturing him to “act responsibility?”
The call for publicly-funded contraception follows a news release about the June 2006 issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health that reported on the factors that motivate teens to have sex. The findings of that study reflect a survey of 9th graders that asked appallingly probing, inappropriate and intimate questions of children. The researchers asked specifically about “the degree to which sex would satisfy” the early teens’ relationship goals, the importance of “sexual pleasure and social status” in their relationships and details about their sexual experience. The Guttmacher news release about that research began with this lead: teenagers think that sex will bring them “intimacy, social status and sexual pleasure.” All of this, of course, was cloaked in the desire to help teens “delay first sex.” There was no mention of the findings about the level of sexual experience among the teens. That rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is down — a trend not helped by surveys such as the one reported by Guttmacher.
Further, Guttmacher identifies “economic trends” as the source of the increase in poverty for women. The reality, however, is that social trends, rather than economic factors, are the biggest driving force behind the increase in the number of women in poverty. Being an unmarried mother is the major reason for women ending up in poverty and mother-only-households have increased dramatically (there were a million more mother-only families in 2004 than in 1993); it is not surprising, then, that the percentage of women in poverty has increased (the number of unmarried mothers in poverty rose 20% from 2000 to 2004 but the number in poverty in 2004 is still more than 500 thousand lower than the peak number in 1993.
The number of single mothers getting out of poverty since 1993, of course, can be explained by welfare reform — which was enacted at the federal level in 1996, thereby reducing the amount of federal funding of out-of-wedlock childbearing. Clearly, the old axiom applies: we get more of the behavior that we subsidize. The U.S. experience with welfare reform clearly demonstrates that the last thing we need is an expansion of the government into the private sexual activities of society.
Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse is Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute.