A helpful visual aid for conservatives.
Left: Baby. Right: cute little 5-day old human blastocyst*
*Important note: not shown actual size.
The Colorado Family Planning Initiative is a program designed to lower the state’s rate of unwanted pregnancies, and thereby lower the associated costs to the public coffers. The concept is simple: young, lower-income women, i.e. those at highest risk of unwanted pregnancies, would be provided with long-acting, reversible birth control—intrauterine devices (IUDs) and hormonal implants—at little to no cost. Originally funded by an anonymous grant, the expectation was that if the program succeeded, continued funding would be taken over by the state. Makes perfect sense, right?
And lo, it was wildly successful:
Between 2010 and 2012, the state estimates, 4,300 to 9,700 births to women on the state’s Medicaid program that would have otherwise occurred did not—saving Medicaid between $49 million and $111 million. The state’s abortion rate has also cratered, falling 42 percent among women ages 15 to 19 and 18 percent among women ages 20 to 24 between 2009 and 2012.
Colorado’s teen birth rate plummeted 11 spots in national rankings, and last month the state received an award from the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association for outstanding public health access. It just makes so much (dollars and) sense.
The program would cost $5 million a year, and save many, many multiples of that in Medicaid costs and additional benefits the state would otherwise pay out. And that’s to say nothing of the benefits to young Coloradans, such as keeping them in school, in the workforce, and out of poverty. Back in February, a bipartisan pair of legislators in Colorado’s Democrat-controlled House introduced a bill to fund the program. The Republican-controlled state Senate took up the measure recently.
I am sure you can see where this is going.
An all-male Senate committee voted to nix funding to the program, along a party-line vote of 3-to-2.
“But Iris!” I can hear you saying, “That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever!” (I like to imagine that my readers are exceptionally logical.) Oh, but there are “reasons,” you see:
At issue are some abortion foes’ beliefs that IUDs can cause abortions—the same belief that led to [Hobby Lobby’s] lawsuit against the Obama administration’s requirement that employers provide insurance that covers contraception or pay a fine. Most scientists say IUDs primarily work by preventing fertilization. But some IUDs can occasionally prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus…But many conservatives who believe human life begins at conception consider preventing implantation akin to abortion.
As we know, there are many things conservatives fervently believe that are just plainly, demonstrably false. This is reason number 1,427,201 why we have made it our mission to marginalize them in society and politics, and put an end to their devastating policies once and for all. Behold:
“By the time you get to that implantation point, we are not talking about a fertilized egg, we’re talking about a new individual that’s growing,” says state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, who serves as the Republican assistant majority leader and chairs the Senate’s health and science committee. He has vowed to fight the measure. “In Hobby Lobby, this was really the point there. They had no objection to contraceptive materials being funded through their insurance. But they had significant objections when it was an abortifacient.”
No, Senator Lundberg, they had significant objections when they falsely believed it was an abortifacient. It’s not. And even if it were, so what? See, no one is in the business of forcing abortions or indeed any form of birth control on conservatives who enjoy pretending that a five-day-old blastocyst is the same entity as a cute little baybee (except when that’s just too inconvenient, obviously). Conservatives, however, are very much in the business of ensuring that those who do not wish to be pregnant become so, and remain so. Because FREEDOM!!!11!!
Unsurprisingly, this Lundberg Luddite is confused about more than just IUDs and blastocysts.
“[T]here is a question of should we be providing long-term contraceptives to young unmarried girls. Are we saying, ‘Go ahead and have sex—just don’t get pregnant’?”
Unless a young unmarried person wants to get pregnant, THEN YES THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE SAYING. Because out here in a wondrous place called “reality,” young people are having sex, and for the most part they do not want to get pregnant. That is exactly what the Colorado Family Planning Initiative was implemented to address in the first place—and did.
He says the debate presents an opportunity to educate Coloradans, “because there is so much misunderstanding of what an IUD is”…
…and warned that “far too often young women die from the pill” too.
No, that is yet another plainly, demonstrably false belief. See e.g.: Hannaford et al, Mortality among contraceptive pill users: cohort evidence from Royal College of General Practitioners’ Oral Contraception Study, BMJ 2010;340:c927 (March 2010):
Oral contraception was not associated with an increased long term risk of death in this large UK cohort; indeed, a net benefit was apparent.
And here is another fact—which yes, I realize is a thing conservatives tend to find utterly repellant:
The United States is the only advanced economy in the world with a rising maternal mortality rate.
That’s right: it’s giving birth that kills, especially where conservatives reign.
So to sum up conservative “logic”: in order to curb the horrifying scourge of fictional abortions, actual abortions are now going to rise. Also rising: unwanted pregnancy rates, birth rates and death rates among lower-income women, and consequently exploding costs to the public. (Now why do I suspect they have in mind a really nifty fix for that problem, too?)
We simply cannot abide the Lundbergs of the world pretending to care about reality, or reason, or babies, or (gawdferbid!) women. Conservatives have long ago proven beyond any doubt that they are constitutionally incapable of doing so. Therefore, until we find the cure, it is imperative that we do everything we can to ensure they are never allowed anywhere near political power.
[a version of this post appeared at perry street palace.]