Pro-life movement making a comeback

Published: Saturday, April 30 2011 10:00 p.m. MDT

While the pro-life clinic doesn't provide abortions or abortion referrals, Oberhelman answers their questions directly and honestly, trying to provide as much information as she can. And when they ask about abortion, she tells them about the price she paid.

Not in money, she quickly adds, but in years of emotional pain, the loss of a potential sibling for her daughter, the feeling of having disappointed her God and the physical damage from an incorrectly done abortion, which later necessitated a hysterectomy.

It's been decades, but the consequences are still there.

"No matter what a woman says," Oberhelman said, "I haven't met a woman yet who really is OK with the fact that she had an abortion."

Yet, nearly 35 percent of women will have had one before they reach 45 — almost half of them unmarried women.

Statistics from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy show that of the nearly 6.4 million pregnancies in the United States, half are unplanned. And because unplanned often becomes synonymous with "unwanted," nearly 1.3 million of those pregnancies end in abortion.

"The conversation about abortion is an unfortunate conversation because it means we haven't adequately had the conversation about preventing unwanted pregnancy," said Utah Sen. Ross Romero (D-Salt Lake City). "Abstinence should be first and foremost our suggestion, but we need to realize that for those who are sexually active, as most individuals will be during the course of their life, understanding how to prevent that unwanted pregnancy is an important part of the conversation that often is overlooked."

That important conversation is often overlooked because the two sides can't agree on where and how it should begin. Pro-choice groups usually want to emphasize contraception or medical options like the "morning-after pill," while pro-life advocates focus on teaching abstinence and promoting adoption.

While the number of teens having sex is dropping — 51 percent of girls and 60 percent of boys in 1988 to 42 percent of girls and 43 percent of boys today — there are still plenty of sexually active adolescents who could use education about contraceptives and preventing pregnancy.

Yet "contraception" is being increasingly, and unfairly, seen as a synonym to "abortion," said Bill Albert, spokesman for The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

"I think some of the opposition to contraception is really a marker for other, important, serious issues that people have concerns about," he said, citing trends of unplanned pregnancies among single women and children born outside of marriage. "I think folks are right to discuss these issues and be concerned about them. But what happens is that expresses itself in simple opposition to contraception."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists family planning, aka birth control, as one of the top 10 Great Public Health Achievements of the last century, along with motor-vehicle safety, fluoridated water and vaccinations.

In fact, 99 percent of women have used a contraceptive at some point in their lives, 82 percent of them using the Pill, according to the CDC. Yet Republican lawmakers want to axe Title X, which provides comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services to women and families, specifically those with lower incomes.

In 2009, more than five million women and men — 70 percent below the poverty level ($18,310 for a family of three) — received services at one of more than 4,500 community-based Title-X funded clinics around the nation.

These clinics, which include Planned Parenthood, provide contraceptives and counseling, as well as breast and pelvic examinations; breast and cervical cancer screenings, prevention education, counseling and testing and referral regarding STDs and HIV, and pregnancy tests and counseling.

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