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Monday, December 5, 2016

Reducing Abortions: It’s The Economy, Stupid

If we put women back to work, lifted them out of poverty, and funded social services they rely on, fewer women would turn to abortion.

It seems the cat’s finally out of the bag these days: conservatives aren’t just concerned with saving the babies from abortions when it comes to reproductive rights. They are now outspoken about being against access to contraception — and some of them have even come out against non-procreative sex. Women’s rights activists have long warned that they were coming for our birth control; now it’s hard to deny they were right all along.

One big clue this whole time has been a simple fact: if conservatives are so hell-bent on preventing abortions, one of the best things they can do is support family planning services and access to contraception. Yet the last time we saw an openly pro-family planning Republican was the ’80s, when George H.W. Bush was in office. Meanwhile, all Republican 2012 candidates have signed personhood pledges that endanger many forms of contraception, Santorum himself has said birth control is bad, and I’ve lost track of how many times Republicans have tried to defund Planned Parenthood, which supplies contraception to low-income women. But as Irin Carmon laid out, the connection between increasing access to contraception and lowering abortion rates is very clear.

There’s another clue that this isn’t about saving the babies. It’s the blind eye conservatives have turned to the economic factors that are leading more women to turn to abortion. A new report, “Abortionomics: When Choice is a Necessity,” shows that “lower incomes and rising unemployment are affecting Americans’ choices about pregnancies,” and in the recession abortion rates, particularly among poor women, are on the rise. Stephanie Poggi of the National Network of Abortion Funds says, “A lot of women are… telling us, ‘I’ve already put off paying my rent, my electric bill; I’m cutting back on my food.’ They’ve run through all the options.” In lean times, a child can seem like an overwhelming expense.

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