The Corner

Culture

No, Defunding Planned Parenthood Is Not ‘Sure to Increase the Number of Abortions’

The recent undercover videos by the Center for Medical Progress which show Planned Parenthood physicians discussing the sale of fetal body parts have put the organization’s mainstream-media allies in a difficult position. Of course, that has not prevented them from trying to rally support for Planned Parenthood. In his Friday Washington Post column, Dana Milbank dubs Monday’s Senate vote to cut off federal funding from Planned Parenthood “The Abortion Promotion Act of 2015.” He argues that political efforts to defund Planned Parenthood are “sure to increase the number of abortions.”

Milbank first claims that that there isn’t a national network of health-care providers capable of providing contraceptives if Planned Parenthood were to be denied funding. But a recent analysis by Genevieve Plaster of the Charlotte Lozier Institute finds that there are over 13 times as many Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) as there are Planned Parenthood facilities. These FQHCs serve eight times more individuals than Planned Parenthood. Steering more money to them might actually improve the availability of health care to women who live in rural areas, as a disproportionately high number of Planned Parenthood facilities are located in blue states and in cities.

#related#Milbank also argues that if contraception were less available, the unintended-pregnancy rate would increase. But there’s an impressive body of academic research which shows that sexual activity increases with the increased availability of contraception. A 2003 Guttmacher Institute study showed that contraception use and abortion rates rose simultaneously in several countries. A 1996 Quarterly Journal of Economics Study, which was co-authored by Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, found that the advent of the birth-control pill led to more sexual activity and more unintended pregnancies. And a University of Michigan study analyzed what happened when the 2005 Federal Deficit Reduction Act led to a sharp increase in the price of birth-control pills at college health centers. It found that there were statistically significant decreases in both the frequency of sexual intercourse and the number of sex partners. The unintended-pregnancy rate remained about the same.

Toward the end of his column, Milbank commends House speaker John Boehner for conducting an investigation and holding hearings on Planned Parenthood. Milbank concludes by stating “Facts First — what a novel — and refreshing — notion.” Unfortunately, Milbank doesn’t appear interested in facts that fail to fit his narrative. If he were, he’d recognize that Planned Parenthood’s aggressive promotion of contraception has led to a culture of sexual promiscuity and high rates of both unintended pregnancies and abortions.

Michael J. New is a visiting assistant professor of social research and political science at the Catholic University of America and an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute in Washington, D.C.

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