Conservatives ride on a platform of being pro-life, but in actuality, are they really just pro-pregnancy? It is easy to draw this conclusion through policy analysis; the current administration and the Republican Party show a complete the lack of support for anything that gives a woman control of her reproduction. The battle against reproductive rights and freedom is fought from three major fronts:
- Elimination of sex education.
- Outlawing birth control.
- Banning women from ending unwanted pregnancies.
The Battle to Eliminate Sex Eduation: No matter which side of the political fence you are on, the facts are clear around the lack of success of these programs. Abstinence only education is proven to be ineffective in keeping teens from engaging in sexual activity. 60 percent of American teenagers have sex before age 18. Research also shows that 88 percent of those who took abstinence pledges have sex before marriage. The American Journal of Public Health reported that around 9 out of 10 times, better understanding and use of contraceptives is cited as the reason for the drop in pregnancy rate, not abstinence. Very few actually believe that these programs ensure that people wait until their wedding nights to have sex yet conservatives continue to stand behind these failing programs that promote ignorance over empowerment. Knowing these programs do not work, do conservatives see teenage pregnancy as a failure or is it actually being promoted?
Countries that educate and have programs for teenage girls to get birth control have the same levels of teenage sexual activity as the US, but are seeing much better results in lowering the incidents of both pregnancy and STDs. American girls are four times more likely then German girls to become pregnant and five times more likely to have HIV. American girls are also five times more likely then French girls to have a baby and 70 times more likely to have gonorrhea. So programs focusing on abstinence are not only gambling with the reproductive freedom of teenagers, but also their lives.
The Battle to Outlaw Birth Control: The Republican Party as a whole is very open about their stance against abortion, making their actions against birth control puzzling since knowledge of and the ability to attain birth control would prevent abortions. Republicans are very well aware that most of their constituents have used birth control yet they continue to cater to the extremists who equate birth control with abortion. Speaking of the “sanctity of life,” some proponents of outlawing birth control contend that every egg deserves to be a fertilized one that develops into a baby. This is the same argument given for arguments against embryonic stem cell research. It does not take much dissection of both these arguments to establish these groups value the life of an unborn child over the life of a fully developed, living, breathing woman.
The Battle to Ban Abortion: Also demonstrating the lack of value placed on women is the support of abortion legislation that bans the procedure even if it is to protect the life of the woman. These groups are not pro-lifers, they are anti-women baby extremists; willing to sacrifice the life of a woman, placing a higher value on her womb then her life.
These conservative groups want to keep women barefoot and pregnant through all means possible as demonstrated by their archaic views on sex education, contraception and abortion. With the number of Christians who support at the very least a women’s right to effective family planning through reliable birth control, it is difficult to accept the biblical reasons groups often cite as their reasons for limiting women's rights to quality family planning. There are reasons, other then those claimed to be based in religious faith, for denying women control over their bodies. In our capitalist society we must always remember that it is money, not values, that makes the political world go 'round'.
The major strides women have made in attaining gender equality over the past century are primarily attributed to the advances made in reproductive medicine, education and the widespread availability of birth control. Forbidding women from controlling the number of children they have forces them to take on lower paying jobs, sacrifice educational opportunities and become increasingly dependent on men for support. Women are not able to be equal with men unless they are able to plan or forego pregnancy, allowing them to compete in the workplace and yield the same economic independence of men. The groups attacking women’s reproductive options are the same as those who keep fighting against the Equal Rights Amendment. Coincidence? I think not.
From a purely socio-economic/political science standpoint, promoting unwanted pregnancies through all means possible actually helps the Republican Party well beyond their so called “family values” and “pro-life” platforms. One-third of teenage girls who have a child before 18 will ever earn their High School Diploma. Only 1.5% of these girls will earn a college degree by the time they are 30 years old. The children born of teenage parents are more likely to have health issues, educational issues and become teenage parents themselves. This creates a permanent underclass of females that perpetuates for generations through their children. Creating this second class citizenry through promoting unwanted pregnancies creates a very large population of individuals paying regressive payroll taxes, increasing the tax base while allowing for reductions in the higher brackets. So the next time you hear some republican talk about these policies being for the children, the children they are really talking about are their own who in turn become richer off those who were denied the economic freedom of education and higher payer jobs because they were not given the resources necessary to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
The conservative agenda aims at keeping women from being successful and solidly cements the glass ceiling above the heads of girls through providing teenagers with abstinence only education, making birth control difficult to attain and limiting a woman’s ability to end unwanted pregnancies. These policies of promoting ignorance and denying women's control of their health are ethically imorral, risking the lives of teenagers and adult women to keep women from attaining the same freedoms and status of men.