Preventing Unintended Pregnancies
The anti-women, anti-choice movement has no desire to prevent unwanted pregnancies; their goal is to force women to have children they don't want and ban birth control. They will never admit that of the six million pregnancies that occur among American women each year, nearly half are unintended. As a result, women experience 1.4 million unplanned births and 1.3 million abortions annually. Among industralized countries, the United States has one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancy.
For now, most politicians still live in the real world and realize that sex education and access to contraception is the key to lowering those numbers. New research from the Guttmacher Institute finds that, while a number of states have shown commitment and creativity in addressing unintended pregnancy, others lag far behind:
California ranked first and New York ranked fifth, a result that may seem predictable, given both states' liberal orientations toward social issues. But between them in the highest rankings sit three conservative states - Alaska, South Carolina, and Alabama.The states were ranked on three criteria: service availability, laws and policies and public funding:
The reason, says the report's author, is that these states are acutely aware of the relationship between unintended pregnancy and dependence on welfare, and they see the economic and social benefit in helping women avoid unintended pregnancy. In turn, that helps women avoid the abortion question altogether.
"What you see in these results is that helping women avoid unintended pregnancy is not just a blue-state issue," says author Cynthia Dailard, a policy analyst at Guttmacher. The institute was at one time affiliated with Planned Parenthood, but is no longer.
"Alaska, Alabama, and South Carolina scored very high, even though we think of them as having an anti-abortion environment," says Ms. Dailard. "But they've really stepped up to the plate in terms of making family-planning services available, particularly to low-income women."
*In Alaska, 85 percent of counties have at least one family planning clinic. The state also devotes major funding, both from its own budget and from federal block grant dollars, to family planning.
*South Carolina and Alabama are noteworthy in their expansion of family- planning services to low-income women through Medicaid.
*Last year, the legislatures in Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Texas directed their states to apply for federal permission to expand eligibility for Medicaid-funded family-planning services.
*Arkansas and West Virginia passed laws requiring private health insurers to include coverage of contraceptives if they cover other prescription drugs.
*Massachusetts and New Hampshire now allow pharmacists to dispense emergency contraceptives without a prescription.
States with comprehensive access to birth control have lower teen pregnancy rates than states that choose to brush the issue under the rug by solely focusing on abstinence only programs. In California and Alaska, the teen pregnancy rates declined by 39 and 34 percent, respectively, between 1992 and 2000 (when we had an "abortion president"). In Nebraska, the lowest-ranking state in the Guttmacher report, teen pregnancy declined by 17 percent during that same period.
To find out how your state ranks, click here.