Planned Parenthood Pushback

Why is the family-values party devaluing families?

The newly conservative U.S. House of Representatives voted on Friday to eliminate all federal funding for Planned Parenthood in an attempt to derail abortion services. The political gamesmanship, which now moves on to the Senate, ignores the fact that abortion rates have already dropped dramatically in recent years—26 percent in this state between 1990 and 2006, according to a recent study. And one of the best ways of ensuring they drop even further is better family planning, of the sort that Planned Parenthood offers. But if conservatives really want to slash abortion rates, here's a better idea: reverse the party line on immigration. Instead of trying to keep immigrants out, Republicans should get out their hammers and start knocking down the wall between the U.S. and Mexico. That's the obvious takeaway from a report Washington's Department of Social and Health Services published in 2008 on pregnancy and birth statistics. The report explained that high birth rates among Latinos were "consistent with traditional values that associate motherhood with social prestige and security." It went on to add that "traditional Mexican cultures highly value children and family ties" and that a much higher percentage of Latinos find abortion unacceptable, as compared to non-Latinos. No surprise, then, that according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, Hispanics receive only 20 percent of all abortions performed in this country. The DSHS report also notes that Hispanic mothers are healthier when pregnant: They smoke less and tend to stay away from drugs and alcohol. It's only when "acculturation occurs," as the report puts it, that they start sinking into bad habits. Of course, having babies is expensive. And the public, through Medicaid, picks up the tab for an increasing number of deliveries in this state. At the time of the DSHS report, Washington was paying more than $309 million per year for Medicaid births, about 20 percent of which were attributable to immigrants. One of the biggest problems cited in the report, though, is that fewer women in this state are getting prenatal care, which leads to healthier babies. It's almost as if Washington, along with the rest of the country, could use a place that provides low-cost care. You know, a place like Planned Parenthood.

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