By Alex Miller
Click-bait frenzy aside, the recent announcement that Bristol Palin is pregnant again sans hubby is a story played out in countless homes across the country on a daily basis. Here’s why this shouldn’t be a big deal:
People, starting in their teens, like to have sex.
Sex leads to babies.
This is normal human behavior, but not without its consequences.
Modern people have invented birth control methods, many of which are over 95% effective. But since access and cost can be problematic — especially for young and/or poor people — modern society in many places has made it easier. After all, there are a set of very clear, unambiguous facts related to the cost of a baby versus the cost of birth control. And since conservatives hate spending money on poor people and hate abortion even more, it would stand to reason that they’d be 100 percent behind getting birth control to the masses. In Colorado, one might expect to see the likes of Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman and Kent Lambert joining their liberal counterparts to march in the streets, tossing condoms and IUDs to the throngs.
Before I get to the absolutely 100 percent expected part where they didn’t do that, consider some facts from the Guttmacher Institute:
- In 2010, 45 percent of all Colorado pregnancies in Colorado were unintended.
- That same year, about 64 percent of unplanned births were publicly funded.
- The tab for the state and the feds that year for unintended pregnancies was $237 million.
- Publicly funded family planning services in Colorado helped avert 34,500 unintended pregnancies in 2012.
On the federal level, a program called Title X is under fire from The Most Unpopular Congress in History. Title X provides birth control, family planning and other reproductive health services to low-income patients around the U.S. By proposing to slash Title X’s funding to zero, the Republican-led house committee that oversees it is, apparently, quite content to strip away vital health services from the nearly 5 million Americans — mostly women — who rely on them. If doing so results in more unintended pregnancies and abortions, which it most certainly will, well, “tough luck!” is the GOP message.
Here at home, progressive Coloradans recently heralded a successful, privately funded program that reduced unwanted pregnancies in the state by 40 percent over the last five years. That’s a lot of unintended pregnancies headed off at the cervix, avoiding millions in taxpayer-funded services. When it came time to shift the demonstrably successful program to the state, right-wingers on the senate committee said “no” to the $5 million program. Better to pay those hundreds of millions later, they reasoned, than acknowledge that teens have sex and that birth control via IUD works really well.
By and large, these are men making these family-planning decisions: silly men who’d rather look the other way and toss these girls (and their partners, if they’ve stuck around) under the bus. Sure, some of these accidental families may do fine if they have help, but Google the stats on the overall prospects of this demographic and it’s easy to see that holding off on having kids until you’re older, more financially secure and with a partner is a much better experience for all involved — including taxpayers.
Look, neither liberals nor conservatives want unintended pregnancies and all the baggage and expense that comes with them. The difference is conservatives can’t be honest with themselves about how to address it. Guys: Abstinence may be a guaranteed “cure,” but no one with hormones wants to buy it. You have children, right? Surely you’ve had more honest conversations with them about this topic than you’re having with the population at large.
To these throwbacks who shake their bony fists in protest of sex, I can only say this: I get it, to some extent. As the father of two daughters, I too had a little Ward Cleaver appear on my shoulder to say archaic things in my ear when my wife came to me and said our oldest daughter was ready for birth control.
“Don’t do it!” Ward said. “You’ll only encourage her!”
I told Ward to shut up and go back the ’50s, which is precisely my message to lawmakers who’d rather short-change and slut-shame one of our most vulnerable populations than give them the help when and where they need it most.
Alex Miller is a marketing writer who lives in Highlands Ranch.