Friday, February 24, 2012

Challenging Disinformation: Links Between Economic Stress and Abortion

As I noted yesterday, Sarah Posner argues that those promoting women's rights to basic health care should not let their guard down after the apparent breakthroughs with the HHS guidelines and the Komen Foundation. Posner notes, in particular, the need for vigilant monitoring of the disinformation the political and religious right continually disseminate about issues of contraception and abortion.

One piece of disinformation that conservatives like to try to spread around these days is that widespread access to contraception does not and will not have a discernible effect on abortion rates.  Ross Douthat made this claim recently in the New York Times

But as Bryce Covert notes at the new deal 2.0 website several days ago, a recent study by Robin H. Pugh Yi entitled "Abortionomics: When Choice Is a Necessity," which looks at the effects of economic stress on abortion rates among low-income women, finds that abortion rates do, in fact, rise during periods of recession.

As Pugh Yi states,

Furthermore, as the economy worsens, women are more likely to to want to prevent pregnancy, yet face far more challenges in accessing safe and affordable birth control.  This, in turn, increases the likelihood of unintended pregnancy.  As funding for social services declines, more women may be expected to determine that economic constraints make abortion the only viable option in this situation.

I suspect these conclusions won't come as much of a surprise to anyone who thinks about the issues of contraception and abortion beyond the ideological parameters (the blinkering ideological parameters) of the religious and political right.  To many of us, it seems intuitively obvious that if our goal is to make abortion as rare as possible, increasing the access of everyone, but most of all those on the social margins, to basic health care services including contraception, is one of the most effective ways possible to move towards that goal.

I've long since concluded that those who want to limit access to contraception and to use poor women's health care needs as a bargaining chip in ugly political wars aren't really anywhere nearly so concerned about preventing abortion as they claim to be.  I've also concluded that they aren't pro-life in any meaningful sense at all.

Not even when they have episcopal miters.

H/t to Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish site for the links to the preceding pieces.

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