September 28, 2015 — In a Washington Post opinion piece, columnist Catherine Rampell writes in favor of improving contraceptive access for low-income women, noting that "giving low-income women more control over their own fertility ... promotes economic security, educational attainment, income mobility and more stable environments for American children."
Rampell notes, "Today there are huge and widening class gaps in rates of unintended pregnancies: A poor woman is more than five times as likely to get pregnant by accident than an affluent woman." She explains that "despite public admonitions that 'responsible' singles should remain celibate, both rich and poor are sexually active," but low-income women are more likely to experience an unintended pregnancy because they "are much less likely to use contraception."
According to Rampell, an unintended pregnancy can influence "things like economic security and income mobility," such as by making it more difficult for men and women to complete their education or get a job.
"Once upon a time, funding family planning programs to promote economic security was considered a bipartisan no-brainer," Rampell writes, noting that former President Richard Nixon "signed Title X, a law that funds reproductive health services for low-income people." She adds, "You would ... never know this bipartisan history given the ongoing battle to zero out funding for Title X and Planned Parenthood."
Rampell writes, "[I]mproving access to birth control doesn't mean giving government control over poor women’s fertility; it just means giving poor women the exact same (voluntary) options that are already available to their more privileged sisters: more choice over whether, when and with whom they decide to have a baby." She concludes, "If you want to increase high school and college completion rates, discourage people from going on welfare, improve low-income people's earning potential and reduce government spending overall, more generous support for family planning services should be on your list" (Rampell, Washington Post, 9/24).