In a country that was founded on the beliefs of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, there is still much discussion about exactly how much freedom people should be given. While some issues are (and should be) left to the “experts”, there is debate surrounding the very ordinary power of allowing the masses to have access to contraception. Access, of course, comes in many forms; legal permission, readily available facilities, and funding. We should be funding every form of birth control (yes, I mean vasectomies, Plan-B and abortions!). The benefits would include lessening the burden of paying for health coverage of more children, the food to feed them, the public schools to educated them, the foster homes to house them in cases of abuse; as well as decrease the amount of people turning to crime and therefore entering the prison system. It would also ensure that all children born are done so purposefully and increase the likelihood that the homes they are being born into are more prepared to have them. So let's fund all forms of birth control, regardless of cause and reason, and make them easy to obtain; to give the masses complete ownership of their reproductive futures.
Currently, the largest growing sector of our population is below poverty line, defined by making under $24,000 per year for a family of 4. Ironically, this is also the largest sector using abortions (Narcotte, 9). This rationalizes into the understanding that these people may not have the funds, accessibility or mental capacity to use birth control on a regular basis. Evidently, they also do not have the funds or willingness to have abortions in a consistent manner. This is the same sector of the population that has double the crime rate as the rest (BJS, 2015), not to mention they depend on government funds for food, healthcare and housing.
Today, the federal government funds birth control only for individuals making less than $16,000 per year. They will also cover an abortion if it is deemed to have been a result of rape or incest, or if it poses an immediate danger to the health of the mother, although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may provide other exceptions in the near future under the special provisions for existing conditions. Permanent forms of birth control such as vasectomies or tubal ligations are not covered. On average, the cost for a vasectomy (out-patient, non-invasive procedure in which the vas deferens is clipped to prevent semen from entering the ejaculate) varies between $250-$1,000. A tubal ligation (surgical procedure in which the ovarian ducts are sealed to prevent an egg from being released into the uterus, where it can be fertilized) can fluctuate between $1,500 and $7,000. While these procedures can seem expensive and invasive, it would be exponentially cheaper than paying for continuous contraception and welfare in the event conception does occur at a later time. The most controversial of the methods of reproduction control proposed is clearly abortion. Abortion is defined by the Webster’s Dictionary as “the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus”. Unlike the other methods we have examined, funding abortions and the so-called “abortion pill”, also referred to as Plan-B, would contradict regulations that have been established since 1976 in the form of the Hyde “amendment” (a more accurate name would be rider provision), which states that no federal dollars should be used to fund abortions except in the case of rape, incest, or when necessary to save the life of the mother, and has been added to every federal spending budget since its inception.
During the formative years of the current reproductive right’s movement, it came to light that a woman does and has always had the right to perform a self-abortion. There are no legal repercussions for a mother terminating her own pregnancy, whether it be with physical tools or by ingesting termination drugs which are readily available (albeit from questionable sources) on the internet. The debate really came about through a discrepancy with the repercussions faced by doctors and clinics when they exercised their right to make the subjective decision of whether the abortion was, in fact, medically necessary. For example, a doctor might use the same description used in the Hyde Amendment to argue that any woman who is forced to endure any pregnancy against her will is undeniably in extreme physical danger- even so far as to claim she might commit suicide if forced to continue with the pregnancy. Such nuances were the very motivation for the case of Roe Vs. Wade in which three separate entities sued the state for permission to abort without such limitations. During closing remarks, Attorney Sarah Weddington even compares subjecting a woman to childbirth against her will, to rape or physical assault. These flaccid regulations might allow room for interpretation, but such interpretation takes a considerable amount of time. In a pregnancy, lengthening the time of gestation only exacerbates the invasiveness of the procedure necessary to terminate it. In some cases, like that of McCorvey (the plaintiff also known as Jane Roe), the time to judgement would be too long to actually be useful to the subject. However, it is still common to argue that these exceptions that allow a woman to follow through with a desired abortion, whether it be through an authorized provider at her own costs or obtain permission from a doctor using her mental health as reason enough, are unnecessarily complicated.
One might pose the stipulation that any human has the “right to life” as stated in the Declaration of Independence, but such document does not override the United States Constitution. It clearly states, in the first sentence of the 14th Amendment: “All persons born or naturalized”. In the ruling law of the land, there is never mention of any rights guaranteed to any person who has not yet been born. In fact, an unborn child cannot be issued a death certificate, since it has never been issued a birth certificate. This argument was used extensively in the Supreme Court Hearing of Roe Vs. Wade to support the Constitutionality of performing abortions at one’s own discretion.
Another common argument agains abortion freedom is simply the fact that there are many people who cannot conceive on their own and are more than willing to adopt any child. But the numbers say differently.
The annual report to Congress of the Child Welfare Outcomes for years 2010-2013 (the most current report available) states that in this country there are approximately 402,000 kids in Foster Care at the end of any given year, with about 250,000 of those fluctuating in and out of the system (DHHS, 9).
This means almost half of those children stay permanently in the hands of the state, receiving sub-par parenting and never learning the tools they need to become socially integrated. Aside from those hundreds of thousands of unwanted children, there are an average of 679,000 yearly confirmed to have been victims of mistreatment (Id.). These are children born to parents who either did not want them, did not know what it entailed to raise them, or simply lacked the skills to parent appropriately because of their own upbringing. They fall under a category of what can be referred to as “impulsive” parents, where they spontaneously decide to have multiple children or frequently engage in unprotected sex (many times because of lack of access to birth control). Sadly, these are the people that abortion regulations are hurting the most. And the products of those parents are being raised in foster homes after becoming permanently traumatized or, worse, continue to slip through the cracks and attend public schools where their behavior is difficult to curb and affects every single other child, at times resulting even in sexual abuse and violence.
Where are the people running to adopt these kids? Where are the sad barren mothers reaching out to heal a broken, molested 12-year-old? They’re on a list, waiting for a healthy, full-term baby.
But the question here is not whether all women should have the right to an abortion (or ANY form of reproductive control), because that issue has already been settled. The thesis is to provide necessary funding and access, something that has yet to be done. To add to the previously stated exception, a woman who has the income to afford a private doctor (who has the capabilities to perform the procedure) and the age to consent, may obtain an abortion at any point of her pregnancy (depending on the state) and for any reason. But these women are not statistically the ones getting abortions. In fact, 69% of women getting them today are under or very close to the poverty line (Narcotte, 9). And if these middle to upper-class women were to have a child, he or she would statistically be less likely to fall into crime and poverty solely because of the financial situation they were born into.
The real issue then becomes, why do we allow complete control over one’s reproductive rights only when a person has the money to pay for it? And why are we forcing the disadvantaged to have fewer options that only perpetuate their problems?
It has been demonstrated that poverty and education level, more than race or any other classification factor, is better at determining the probability of crime and violent offenses. The Bureau of Justice Statistics in the Department of Justice reports that an average of 30% of the population is under the federal poverty level and that same 30% has double the rates of crimes than the combined other 70%. To break it down, 39% of all individuals living in that socio-economic status engage in crime, as opposed to only 20% of the rest of the population (BJS, 2015). Inevitably, children born to these families are much more likely to engage in criminal activities themselves. As we have already examined, these are the same people who account for 69% of the abortions taking place in the nation today. ALL of these done at their own cost, and while sometimes having to travel to find facilities that are approved to provide these services.
If having children to impoverished and uneducated homes that are highly likely to commit to crime isn’t enough, the numbers for abuse are even more daunting.
According to the Institute for Research on Poverty, 55% of abusive parents have less than a High School education, to contrast only 8.5% with education that was higher than that (Cancian, 9). The National Coalition for Child Protection Research goes so far as to claim that “poverty is the number one cause for abuse” with abuse being 14 times and neglect being 44 times more common in people under poverty level (NCCPR, 9). These numbers are logical given that people who cannot afford child care for their children at times have no options aside from leaving them unsupervised. Abuse and neglect are the major reasons children are moved from their homes and placed in foster care permanently.
So even after these statistically disadvantaged children have been witnesses to violent crime, abused, and removed from their homes, we are left with a foster care system that simply cannot keep up with the current case load.
Without even taking into account the costs of the legal proceedings needed to terminate parental rights, or the amount of time that such proceedings take, it is estimated that a child in foster care costs between $26,000 and $113,000 per year to care for (sierraff.org, 2013). The number varies so much because most children in the system were born to mothers with inadequate prenatal care or faced in-utero trauma (such as drug use or physical harm). After foster care, only 45% of children will graduate from high school, and only 2% will pursue higher education (CFR, 9), further perpetuating the cycle of poverty, ignorance, and abuse.
The result is entire armies of children who never stood a chance, who enter society as a cancer and commit their own series of crimes and abuses. They later go on to raise their own children in poverty, continuing to put a burden on the taxpayers and needing all forms of government assistance.
Of course there are children born in the poverty level who do not fall into these categories, but those have the very discernible distinction that they were more than likely wanted, loved, and cared for. Allowing for open access to all forms of birth control will virtually eradicate unwanted pregnancies throughout every socio-economic status, creating generations of children who were welcome with loving hearts and therefore sent out into the world as, very likely, productive members of society.
Will there be people who will still actively seek pregnancies, either knowing or ignorantly, that they cannot give them a good life? Of course. But the children born to these situations will be so significantly fewer that the programs we already have in place will be much better equipped to help facilitate a solution.
Although extreme in theory, the concept of complete control over one’s reproductive choices has the potential to stop a never-ending cycle of abuse and neglect, as well as solve once and for all the issues we are facing with our educational systems, overcrowding in prisons and federal budget deficit. When looked at solely from a business perspective, the federal government would save a large portion of the 33 billion dollars (on direct results of abuse) and another 70 billion dollars (on the secondary effects of it) (Sierra, 9) alone. From a moral perspective, the children of the country would grow up in a society where there are more resources to help them with their short-comings, a lower crime rate and a poverty rate that is gradually and exponentially decreasing. Using federal money to fund indiscriminate use of birth control and regulation would be both financially and morally responsible for our society. Have a different solution? Share it with me!