Abort the Rhetoric

In late January when President Bush staged a call to groups marching against women’s reproductive rights, he pledged his allegiance to “a culture of life, a culture that will protect the most innocent among us and the voiceless.” Interestingly enough, in a speech on the same day, Sen. Hilary Clinton (D-NY) expressed very similar sentiments, “We should all be able to agree that we want every child born in this country and around the world to be wanted, cherished, and loved.” The difference is that Clinton and other progressives have brought both their ideology and their ideas to the table while conservatives sit uncompromisingly in the corner.

Take a look at how poorly the Prevention First bill has fared in this predominantly conservative Congress. Congressional conservatives have willfully ignored the Putting Prevention First Act of 2004, which would expand “access to preventive health care services and education programs that help reduce unintended pregnancy, reduce infection with sexually transmitted disease, and reduce the number of abortions.” The bill has run ashore because its “multipronged” family-planning strategies include sex education and contraceptives which conservatives state as “not the solution [but rather] part of the problem.” Actually, “7% of American women who do not use contraception account for 53% of all unintended pregnancies” and comprehensive sex education, which includes abstinence teaching, has shown its effectiveness in stemming the spread of HIV infections.

“The fact is that the best way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place,” particularly since half of unintended pregnancies end in abortion. Yet conservatives seem content to funnel money into ineffective abstinence-only education programs rather than really addressing this problem. They claim to be “working to promote compassion for women and their unborn babies” but it is time as much devotion is shown to reality as to their overblown rhetoric.