Making Abortions Rare

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When Democrats say that abortion should be "legal but rare", Republicans often point out (usually rightly so) that the Democrat who is saying "legal but rare" has done little or nothing to actually make abortions rarer. So I am baffled as to why Senate Republicans have blocked a Democratic amendment to the budget that would (as far as I can tell) actually make abortion rarer. This should be something that the Republicans should be cheering, not blocking.

From the article, the Republican objections are as follows:

1. This amendment would "block funding to abstinence-only sex education programs". This is a pretty weak argument to me for several reasons: a) if this amendment would really reduce the number of abortions, then it is far more important than federal funding for abstinence-only sex-ed programs; b) it won't prevent abstinence from being taught in sex-ed, it only blocks federal funding for abstinence-only sex-ed programs; c) on a more pragmatic note, as far as I can tell, abstinence only sex-ed programs don't seem to have any (positive) effect on unwanted-pregnancy rates; d) since when are Republicans fighting for the federal government to control education? Isn't that supposed to be the state's (and the county's) bailiwick? Aren't Republicans for smaller federal government and state's rights?

2. "[R]equiring more insurance coverage of contraceptives 'would increase the cost of insurance and create more uninsured individuals in this country today.'" OK. We're talking about Abortion here--which is considered to be the Most Important Issue by a significant portion of Republicans. And the Republicans won't support an amendment that could reduce the number of abortions becuase it might increase the number of uninsured?!? That doesn't sound right. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that the Republicans are concerned about the number of uninsured. But that traditionally hasn't been their primary concern, so I find it very odd that it is trumping their #1 issue.

Note that neither of the objections are that the amendment won't actually work to reduce the number of abortions. It seems to me that the Republicans agree that this will indeed reduce the number of abortions.

So what's going on? Why did the Republicans block this amendment?

2 Comments

The real reason is because so many people equate government funding of merely teaching about contraceptives with government endorsement of teen sex. At least that's how it gets explicitly put in true religious right contexts. Maybe they know better than to say something so fallacious in Congress, but you hear it on Focus on the Family.

Wasn't there some study recently that showed counterintuitive results on contraceptives and abortion? I thought it was something like increased availability of contraceptives didn't change the abortion rate. Of course, increased information about contraceptives might, and abstinence-only programs do have almost zero impact on teenage sex, so I don't think it decreases the force of your point too much if my memory is correct.

i agree that abstinence only sex-ed programs haven't been shown to be effective.

for me the ironic thing is, that as a democrat, i'm trying to do my part by volunteering in a community pregnancy center providing prenatal care to uninsured moms. fund more ultrasound machines for these centers, and you'll see real effect. there's nothing like showing a living fetus to a mom.

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