Republicans and Abortion

Earlier reports which were frequently reported claiming that abortions increased under George Bush were found to be eroneous, but Nicholas Kristof shows that there is no reason for Republicans to be proud:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do show a tiny increase in abortions in 2002 (the most recent year available). But more comprehensive figures from the Guttmacher Institute, which does research on reproductive health, indicate that abortions fell — albeit by tiny amounts — in the first three years of Mr. Bush’s presidency.

In 2003, the institute estimates, there were 1.29 million abortions in the U.S., 26,000 fewer than in President Bill Clinton’s last year in office.

Yet abortions fell much faster under Mr. Clinton, and the evidence shows that condoms do more to bring down abortion rates than pious moralizing. That’s why staunch “pro-life” presidents like Mr. Bush or Ronald Reagan have accomplished far less in reducing abortions than a “pro-choice” president like Mr. Clinton.

Kristof looks at the advantages of contraception and sex education in contrast to the Bush administration’s policies and concludes:

The evidence is solid about how to reduce abortions: promote contraception and comprehensive sex education (rather than “abstinence only” programs). California has led the country in these areas, and as a result it cut teenage pregnancy rates by 39 percent over eight years.

Western Europe and Canada both emphasize sex education and family planning programs. The result is that American women are almost three times as likely to get abortions as women in Belgium or Germany. Or take Canada. Among women and girls aged 15 to 19, Americans are 38 percent more likely to get abortions than Canadians. And American teenagers, both boys and girls, are nearly 10 times as likely to catch gonorrhea.

Bush family members were pioneers in supporting the family planning services that can reduce abortion rates. President Bush’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, lost an election for U.S. senator in Connecticut in 1950 partly because he was denounced for his ties to Planned Parenthood.

Later, George H. W. Bush was, as a young congressman, a prime sponsor of the 1970 public health program that provides family planning services in the U.S. He was so enthusiastic that his nickname then was Rubbers.

If Mr. Bush revived that legacy, he could lead a bipartisan campaign to promote sex education and increase access to contraceptives. Some experts estimate that this could cut the number of abortions in the U.S. by half a million annually. So Mr. Bush, step down from the pulpit, roll up your sleeves — and go back to your family roots!

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