This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

What If There Were No Planned Parenthood?

One of the more obnoxious issues on display at the recent Republican presidential candidates debate was the vicious set of attacks on Planned Parenthood. This echoes the feelings of many right-wing members of Congress who want to shut down the government rather than provide any funding to Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that no federal funding goes for abortions. As she usually does, Gail Collins hits the nail on the head in an Op-Ed in today's NYTimes.
This leads us to an important question about the Planned Parenthood debate: Are the people who want to put it out of business just opposed to the abortions (which don’t receive federal funds), or are they against family planning, period?
“I’m telling you, it’s family planning,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a phone interview. “They decided that was their target long ago.”
Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University, studied what happened when Texas blocked Planned Parenthood grants and tried to move the money to other providers. Even when there were other clinics in an area, she said, “they were overbooked with their own patients. What happened in Texas was the amount of family planning services dropped. And the next thing that happened, of course, was that unplanned pregnancies began to rise.”
Unplanned pregnancies increase the chances of a woman having a child that cannot be easily afforded, potentially increasing the demands on welfare--which right-wing Republicans also resent paying for. Collins reminds us, as I've noted before, that the best way to get rid of the demand for abortions is to make sure that all women and men have excellent access to birth control. And, even if you are a pronatalist, you surely must understand that a planned family does not necessarily mean a smaller family. Rather, it implies a family of parents and children that are loved and well cared for. I really think that most of us aspire to that kind of society. Getting rid of Planned Parenthood would move us in the other direction.

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