October 17, 2014 — It is a "delusion" to think "that we can get entire classes of Americans to practice abstinence until they're financially ready for marriage and children," which is one reason "why subsidies for family planning services make a good deal of sense," Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell writes.
Rampell argues that policies that restrict access to birth control, fail to "even teach kids how contraception works," block abortion access and "offe[r] little assistance" to single mothers seem to be based on the "logic" that "[i]f only we make it harder for people to have access to family planning services, and financially painful to raise children who predictably result from sex in the absence of those services, people who cannot afford to raise children will choose celibacy."
Such beliefs are "magical thinking," she writes, citing data that almost nine in 10 unmarried young adults have had sex, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
Public funding for family planning should include "not only financial access to contraception but also education about how it works," Rampell continues, noting that "[s]tudy after study has documented astounding amounts of confusion and misinformation about baby-making." Further, there is "a huge return on investment, not just for families but for the public," when the government supports family planning, she writes. According to research by the Guttmacher Institute, "every $1 invested in helping women avoid pregnancies they didn't want saved $5.68 in Medicaid expenditures that otherwise would have been needed," Rampell writes.
Improving access to family planning "is about giving low-income women the same control over when, and with whom, they have children, as is afforded to their higher-income sisters," she concludes (Rampell, Washington Post, 10/16).