The 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade is coming up this Monday and what better way to celebrate than to embrace a "culture of life"? You heard me.
On the heels of NARAL Pro-Choice America's release of its comprehensive roundup of the current state of reproductive rights in the U.S., an editorial in today's San Francisco Chronicle takes stock of our country's sad track record in supporting "maternal, fetal and familial health." Lynn M. Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Women, argues that lawmakers have failed to actually legislate for a "culture of life" by avoiding support of pregnancy and parenthood. Their consideration "of more than 600 abortion-related bills a year creates the illusion that the only aspect of pregnancy that needs attention is abortion."
Instead of funneling federal dollars into comprehensive crisis pregnancy centers that supply women with misinformation to steer them away from having abortions, Paltrow argues that lawmakers should finance programs that have an honest interest in helping women in need. As one example, she points to the dearth of drug treatment programs for pregnant women and mothers. "Increasingly, women with untreated drug or alcohol problems are being targeted for arrests based on the claim that pregnant women can be considered child abusers even before they have given birth," she writes. "A low-income pregnant drug-using woman in Amarillo, Texas, who would have several pregnancy crisis centers to choose from -- would find that there is not a single drug treatment program that provides care to pregnant and parenting women within 100 miles."
Her conclusion is, or should be, an obvious one: We should "advocate for policies that genuinely support maternal health and well being and create a true culture of life -- one that values the women who give that life." Along the same lines, today Ellen Goodman argues that Americans have reached at least one common ground in the abortion debate: Reducing unplanned pregnancies would be a good thing. "But there is a roadblock to this common ground," Goodman writes. None other than Eric Keroack, the recently appointed head of the HHS's Office of Population Affairs. We've said it before, but it bears mentioning again and again: The man overseeing our country's family-planning programs has argued that birth control is degrading to women and that the oxytocin released through casual sex diminishes one's ability to bond.
Most of us may agree that preventing abortion is a good aim -- whether through honest sex education, unrestricted access to birth control or programs and policies that better support parenthood. But, as Goodman rightly groans: "Prevention First? Not when the president has handed the deed for common ground to the Count of Oxytocin."