Roundup: Adults and Unplanned Pregnancy, TIME says Palin Abortion Attacks “Misleading”

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Roundup: Adults and Unplanned Pregnancy, TIME says Palin Abortion Attacks “Misleading”

Brady Swenson

Many adults, not just teens, face unplanned pregnancies; Doug Kmiec on Obama and the middle ground in the abortion debate; TIME Magazine calls Palin attacks on Obama's abortion record "misleading"; Watching anti-choice ballot initiatives; Abstinence-only and HIV in Uganada.

Many Adults Face Unplanned Pregnancies

Iowa newspaper the Quad-City Times features a story on surprisingly common unplanned pregnancies among adults in their 20s and 30s.  In Iowa more than half of all births in 2007 were reported as unintended pregnancies. One woman featured in the article successfully planned her first pregnancy when she was 24 but financial turmoil forced her to give up birth control and a second, unplanned, pregnancy took a toll on her marriage:

Rachel Quinn always wanted to have children and was overjoyed as she
and her husband planned her pregnancy with their daughter four years

But the 28-year-old Davenport woman had no intention of getting pregnant the second time.

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couple’s relationship and finances were in turmoil. They could not
afford birth control at the time, she said, because they did not have
health insurance.

To add to the distress, their son, now 10
months old, was born dangerously premature, at 25 weeks of gestation.
He spent months in the hospital and almost died.

Despite all of the struggles, she cannot imagine life without her children.

Now, though, she and her husband are in the midst of a divorce.

“The stress of everything, the stress of it all was too much,” she said. “It’s devastating.”

Much attention is paid to sex education in the nation’s schools but "plenty of young adults many of them unmarried and in their 20s, according to research — face the same challenges resulting from unplanned pregnancies."

The tough economic times we face will make access to family planning services even more important. 

The tough economy could make family planning even more important for many people, Brown said.

new parents needing an extra $7,000 to $8,000 per year to raise a
child, according to Vilsack, family planning is “definitely cheaper
than birth control, pregnancy and parenting,” Brown added.

“The issue of ‘Can I afford to have and raise a child now?’ is really critically important,” she said.

The lowest fertility rate in U.S. history was during the Great Depression of the 1930s, she added.

poverty and concern about money was so extreme there were families
living in the backseats of cars, barely making it at a level that’s
almost hard for us to understand today.”

Research also shows
that many women who seek abortions say they are choosing that route
because of the financial burden that having a baby would create, she

Many young adults, especially those in their early 20s,
are uninsured because they are just leaving their parents’ coverage
plans, entering the work force in entry-level positions:

“If you have no insurance
and use public-aid systems, there are often long waiting lists, and
it’s not always as easily accessible as the private market,” Brown
said. “A lot of the best contraceptive methods are costly.”


Finding a Middle Ground

Douglas Kmiec, a constitutional law professor and formerly Ronald Reagan’s constitutional lawyer as head of the office of
legal counsel for the Department of Justice, made news earlier this year when he announced his support for Senator Barack Obama and his plan to reduce the need for abortion by improving social support services for women and families.  Kmeic was one of the first high profile Catholics to declare support for Obama’s approach to abortion, but not the only.  He put his arguments down in his book Can a Catholic Support Him? that Catholic President Josiah Bartlet, ahem, Martin Sheen, said "may very well become the most important comprehensive document written to date on American Catholics, abortion, and candidates for public office."   Today Kmiec has an editorial in USA Today that is a good summary of his view that the Obama-Biden ticket would do more to effectively reduce the need for abortions by providing for the least of us:

In Catholic teaching, abortion can never be justified. Yet the Church
has never said there is only one way to promote respect for human life.
It recognizes that a total ban may not be presently possible. Therefore
the Church enjoins adherents in law-making offices
to reduce the tragedy of abortion by working for "effective family and
social policies in support of families, especially … those with
particular financial … needs." Biden and Obama not only support such
measures but would expand them with pre- and post-natal care, paid
maternity leave as well as universal health care and tax relief for
working families. Indeed, recent data show that enacting such policies can reduce abortions


TIME Magazine Calls Palin Attacks on Obama’s Abortion Record "Misleading"

As noted in roundup last Friday and as Emily reports today Governor Sarah Palin has returned to using a long-debunked line of attack against Obama’s record on abortion legislation in the Illinois General Assembly:

It is without dispute that Obama is pro-choice, showing a long record
of opposing efforts that might limit legal access to abortion. To
suggest, however, that Obama supported the death of children born alive
after abortions is misleading. State law in Illinois, which Obama
supported, has always protected the life of a child born alive after
abortions, if doctors believed the child had a reasonable chance of


Watching the Anti-Choice Ballot Initiatives

The New York Times editorial board is strongly opposed to three anti-choice initiatives on the ballot November 4.  The board claims that the proposed abortion ban in South Dakota and the proposal to change the definition of "person" in Colorado to include eggs at the moment of fertilization are thinly-veiled attempts to challenge Roe vs. Wade:

These measures, which violate women’s privacy and threaten their
health, have implications far beyond those states. If voters approve
them, they will become a weapon in the right-wing campaign to overturn
Roe v Wade.

The [South Dakota] measure is clearly unconstitutional under existing Supreme Court
rulings, and that’s just the point. The underlying agenda is to provide
a vehicle for challenging Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized

The editorial board argues that Proposition 4 in California, to require parental notification for teens to procure abortion care, would not actually protect teens as supporters argue but put vulnerable teens in abusive situations in an impossible situation:

The proponents of Proposition 4 say mandating notification is
necessary to safeguard underage girls. But most 15-year-olds who find
themselves pregnant instinctively turn to a parent for support and
guidance. Far from protecting vulnerable teens, Proposition 4 would
make it difficult for young women caught in abusive situations to
obtain an abortion without notifying their parents, even in cases where
the father or stepfather is responsible for the pregnancy.

approved, Proposition 4 would inevitably drive some to attempt a
self-induced abortion or to seek the procedure later in pregnancy.
California voters were right to reject this damaging approach on the
first two attempts. They should do so again.

VIDEO: Does Life Begin at Fertilization?VIDEO: Does Life Begin at Fertilization?The Associated Press reports that opposition to the personhood initiative in Colorado is growing, with unexpected parties coming out agasint the new definition including anti-choice Governor Bill Ritter and the Colorado Catholic Conference.  Those supporting the new definition are making no effort to hide the ultimate goal of outlawing abortion:

"Because it’s a definition, it can only do so much. But it does get the
truth out there," Burton said. "A lot of people say, ‘Well, if this
doesn’t automatically ban abortion, why do it?’ Well, it sets the
foundation. And then we can go from there."

The San Francisco Chronicle says that a recent Field Poll has Proposition 4, the third incarnation of a parental consent law proposed in California in the past four years, is leading, with 49 percent support among likely voters, 41 percent opposed and 10 percent undecided.


Is Abstinence Message Promoted By the Church Behind the Halt in the Fall of HIV Transmission in Uganda?

Writing on the Katine Chronicles blog for the Guardian Anne Perkins asks if increasing emphasis by some Christian churches on abstinence as the only acceptable way to avoid HIV infection may be responsible for the halt in the long fall of HIV transmission in Uganda.  Perkins writes that the non-judgmental, comprehensive education efforts in the 1990s worked so well, dropping the infection rate from 17% of the population to around 6%, that Uganda was "being held up as a shining example of what could be achieved."  The messaging then grew ever more skewed toward abstinence-only when evangelical churches with funding from the Bush administration began promoting ABC, or abstinence, be faithful, use condoms and eventually distilled that message down to simply say abstain from sex.  Perkins blames this shift in message for making the overall attitude of Ugandans toward persons living with HIV from one of compassion to stigmatization. 

… encouraged by the evangelical churches, society is
becoming less and less tolerant of those living with HIV. Individuals
convicted of infecting someone can now be imprisoned. Soldiers are
denied promotion. The open, non-judgmental approach to HIV education
and treatment that saw such success in the 1990s is being progressively
undermined in a politico-religious movement that is financially
endorsed by Bush’s Republicans.

Population Action International produced this short documentary about the problems abstinence-only messaging is causing in Uganada: