The Colorado Independent’s Sofia Resnick points to this recent interview with Americans United for Life President Charmain Yoest, in which Yoest is challenged on why her organization — which drafts model legislation banning abortion for the states — does not promote access to safe contraception. Yoest first dismisses the question by saying that there are “differences of opinion” about expanding access to birth control, but then claims that the issue is a “red herring”:
HOST: Is your organization in favor of helping women have more access to birth control and helping women have their birth control paid for by insurance?
YOEST: That’s actually not an issue that we address. We on life issues, on biotheics, on abortion, on end of life, on rights of conscience, but we do not address that issue because there are differences of opinion on that. [...]
HOST: But I’m just curios, why not approach birth control as an issue if the goal is to reduce abortions, to make abortion unnecessary, birth control does that. Wouldn’t that be an interesting addition to your legal pallet?
YOEST: Well, as I said, there is an awful lot of issues that can be addressed and we stay really focused to this question of abortion itself. It’s really a red herring that the abortion lobby likes to bring up, conflating abortion and birth control and that’s why we try to stay very clear on differentiating between the two. Because frankly that would be carrying water on the other side.
There may be “differences of opinion” about the need for contraception within AUL, but the American public is overwhelmingly behind expanding access to birth control. In fact, a recent poll found that “77 percent of respondents believe private insurance should cover most or all cost of oral contraceptives, and 74 percent believe government-subsidized insurance plans should cover birth control pills.” And 78 percent “said they believe the federal government should subsidize birth control and other family planning services, excluding abortion, at government-funded clinics for low-income women.”
Access and education about contraception could also help lower abortion rates. According to data from the Guttmacher Institute, 54 percent of women who have abortions “had used a contraceptive method,” but 76 percent of birth control pill users and 49 percent of condom users “report having used their method inconsistently.” Forty-six percent of women “who have abortions had not used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant.”