Roundup: More Takes on Contraception and Economic Stimulus

Emily Douglas

The real economic consequences of contraception; on family planning, Brookings has it both ways; slight increase in average age of first birth among American women; Freedom of Choice Act moving in New Mexico; Obama forging a new path on abortion?; Rita Henley-Jensen gushes over new Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

The Real Economic Consequences of Contraception
At the New York Times Economix blog,
economist Nancy Folbre cuts through the eye-winking and gets straight
to the economic benefits of including a family planning provision in
the stimulus package.  Folbre observes, "Increased spending on family
planning (including contraceptives) would
generate about as many direct and indirect jobs as any other health
expenditures, and probably more than an equivalent tax cut. But the
short-term effects are less important than benefits down the road." 
She reviews some the most significant studies showing economic benefits of contraceptive access.

On Family Planning in the Stimulus, Brookings Has It Both Ways
Dropping the Medicaid family planning provision in the stimulus was "tactically smart," says the Brookings Institute,
even though the family planning expansion "promises to produce greater
long-term returns than many of the programs
that will ultimately be retained in the final stimulus package."  Why so savvy, then? "Because the program’s
opponents appeared to be gaining political
traction," says the Institute.  The writers concludes, "In short: while we agree with the
Democrats’ decision to remove the
family planning provision from the stimulus bill, we strongly urge the
President and Congress to return to this issue as soon as possible." 
Thanks for the vote of confidence — but does the think tank really imagine that opponents to this expansion won’t get traction next time?

Obama’s New Path on Reproductive Health?

In the Washington Post,
Stein argues that President Obama is attempting to forge a new
strategy for dealing with reproductive health issues politically,
"attempting to nudge the debate away from the morality and legality
of abortion and toward a goal he hopes both sides can endorse:
decreasing the number of women who terminate their pregnancies by
addressing the reasons they might choose the procedure." Stein portrays Obama’s lifting of the global gag rule as a gift for
the pro-choice community and the insistence that the stimulus plan drop
family planning provisions as a win for the anti-choice community.  But
if Obama’s intention is to "address the reasons [women] might choose
the procedure," how does cutting contraception from the stimulus help? 
How does lifting the global gag rule hurt?  These aren’t ideological
litmus tests from the left — they’re simply common sense measures that
would reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy, everyone’s suppose goal.  As Marcia Greenberger,
president of the National Women’s Law Center, put it, "I do think
there’s a difference between looking for common ground and compromising
one’s principles."

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Slight Increase of Average Age of First Birth Among American Women

Courtney Martin on Feministing and Lynn Harris on Broadsheet
both have thoughtful responses to the news that the average age that
women report giving birth to their first baby has gone down instead of
up.  Lynn writes,


[The Wall Street Journal] piece itself lays out all the factors
that could lower
mean age at first birth: rising numbers of Hispanics, who tend to start
families earlier; a 4 percent rise in first births to girls aged 15 to
19; and the "sheer size of the baby boomlet generation, now entering
the child-bearing years." Nothing in there about the ol’ tick-tock. Or,
for that matter, about the other people often involved in this
calculus: men. Who, last I checked, were necessary.

Courtney adds,

Apparently more young women are having kids today. According to data
just released by the National Center for Health Statistics: Mothers’
mean age at their first childbirth fell to 25.0 years in 2006, the most
recent figures available, from 25.2 in 2005. The 0.2-year drop is
statistically significant because it’s the first time the trend has
ever gone down in history. There are all sorts of class and race
dimensions to this issue of course, not to mention regional
differences–my cousin and his wife already have two kids, their second
home, and a Cuisinart in Colorado while I’m still drinking wine out of
coffee cups in Brooklyn.

Plus, though rarely spoken about, men have a window of fertility as
well. While it shuts slower, it does squeak closed. According to MSNBC:
"Recent studies have linked older fatherhood with increased risks of
schizophrenia, autism, Down syndrome and other disorders in children.
And in this case, "older" means as young as 40."

A Freedom of Choice Act That Is Moving
NARAL Pro-Choice New Mexico is backing a Freedom of Choice Act
currently in the New Mexico state legislature. "NARAL Pro-Choice New
Mexico is focused on passing HB 256,
the Freedom of Choice Act introduced by Representative Mimi Stewart on
the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. This piece of legislation will
remove the criminal abortion ban written into New Mexico law in 1969.
The Freedom of Choice Act also codifies Roe v. Wade protections on the
state level. This single bill will make tremendous strides to protect
the right to choose in New Mexico," says Democracy for New Mexico.  The bill is currently in the House Judiciary Committee.

Gushing Over Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Women’s eNews editor Rita Henley-Jensen has been following New York’s new Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, for several years, and she likes what she sees.  The whole article is worth reading, but here’s a relevant section: 

In New York City’s newspapers, the newest senator is often described as
a conservative because she votes with the National Rifle Association,
even though she is pro-choice and voted against the war and the Wall
Street bailout.

She may not be perfect by every downstate New York standard, but she
is reaching out to the constituencies that strongly opposed her
appointment and beginning to shift her views.

Upstate or downstate, that’s my gal.

Other News to Note

Feb 4: KCPW: Bill That Places Restrictions on Abortions Passes in the House

Feb 5: AP: Fla. doctor investigated in badly botched abortion

Feb 5: WYFF: M.D. Uses Viagra To Make Point In Abortion Debate

Feb 5: LifeSiteNews: GAP Leader Responds to Post’s Barbara Kay’s
Condemnation of Abortion Photos Strategy

Feb 4: Salt Lake Tribune: Defending an abortion ban would cost
millions: HB114 » Utah would solicit contributions effort before
outlawing the controversial procedure.

Feb 5: Ms: Pittsburgh School Board to Vote on Expansion of Sex Ed Program

Feb 5: Beliefnet: The failed pro-life movement

Feb 5: Newsbusters: CNN and MSNBC Stereotype Pro-Lifers as Possible Terrorists

National Pro-Life Postcard Campaign to Congress

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