Trends to Take Action On – The Babies That Weren’t Expected

One of my rituals each week is reading The Washington Post’s Health and Science Section. I have a side of me that is a detective and I enjoy pitting my wits against the featured “Medical Mystery” to see if I can figure it out before the end of the article. I did not win my inner game yesterday, but got drawn into a smaller three paragraph article under “The Checkup” entitled, The babies that weren’t expected

I survived statistics in college, so when I read the kinds of things these three paragraphs were bringing out, I feel a deep sense of concern. Basically the statistics state that unintended pregnancies are rising among poor women at five times the rate of higher-income women. And that it rose by 50% between 2001 and 2006.

One concern, a well grounded, practical one, that I share with the author of the column is put well in the closing paragraph which I have quoted below.

While some women who unintentionally become pregnant ultimately embrace those pregnancies, the study notes, unintended childbearing is often “associated with a number of adverse maternal behaviors and child health outcomes, including inadequate or delayed initiation of prenatal care, smoking and drinking during pregnancy, premature birth and lack of breast-feeding, as well as negative physical and mental health effects on children.”

This trend should be concerning to all of us because children born to these women are front-loaded with problems no child should be saddled with. Having children you don’t want or are not ready to take care of is something no woman should be facing, particularly in a world where we have the full capacity to educate, and provide good, safe contraception to everyone.

Abortion is a loaded, divisive topic these days and one I am not going to address here. However, what I do wonder is, why are the people so vehemently fighting abortion not putting their tremendous resources and energy behind educating and creating a healthcare system where abortion is significantly reduced (or perhaps a thing of the past) because intelligent birth control is universally available, along with the counseling to use it wisely? Why not be pro-active about this, rather than the current reactive backward steps being taken?

In my own state (VA) there are legal moves being taken right now to severely limit free-standing women’s health centers in various ways. Take a look for yourself at   http://coalitionforwomenshealth.org/ . Narrowly focused right wing groups all over the country are working hard in similar ways in state legislatures.

It seems we are moving in the wrong direction and the only outcome for all of us as a culture is future burden, and costly help needed for these unwanted children of parents not capable financially of caring for them. And, we haven’t even started on the issue of how this current system potentially limits those children’s capacity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness….

So take a look at your own state legislature and see what is quietly or perhaps not so quietly afoot around the issue of contraceptive healthcare for women of all economic levels. This is an issue that will haunt us for generations if we don’t step up and address it right now. Please don’t let the reactive wing of our culture dictate who we are by their narrowly focused agendas. This is an issue worth standing up for – your presence matters – the healthy lives of women and children everywhere are at stake.

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