Media Matters

Guttmacher Inseminates the Media

Pro-abortion researchers and their media accomplices would have you believe that pregnancy is foisted upon women.

By 5.11.06

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Pro-abortion researchers sure have good friends in the mainstream media.

The latest example surrounds the Alan Guttmacher Institute's report released last week announcing, John Edwards-style, that there are "Two Americas for Women," due to "a widening reproductive health gap between poor women and higher-income women." Guttmacher's study found, in part:

From the 1980s to the mid-1990s, women of all income groups became more likely to use contraceptives and less likely to experience unintended pregnancies. But since 1994, unplanned pregnancy rates among poor women have increased by 29 percent, while rates among higher-income women have decreased by 20 percent. Today, a poor woman is four times as likely to experience an unplanned pregnancy as a higher-income woman.

I'm not here to quibble about the data or the findings. It's the reasoning, the rationale, and the definitions behind them that are the problem. The weakness in abortion advocates' argument is that they frequently employ the passive voice as a rhetorical means to argue for the necessity of contraception and abortion-on-demand, often at public expense for lower-income folks.

Note the above quote, for example: women are actively capable of "us(ing) contraceptives," but they passively "experience unintended pregnancies." By this logic, undesired conception can equally overcome a fertile female as can cancer -- it can't be helped. Their intended message, of course, is that the only vehicle to prevent unwanted impregnation is contraception.

Guttmacher president and CEO Sharon L. Camp is also blind to the active/passive disconnect:

"Behind almost every abortion in the United States is an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. Abortion is not an isolated event in a woman's life. It is a last resort for a woman who is faced with a crisis pregnancy she did not want or plan for."

Implied is the idea that "active" prevention is only accomplishable after the unavoidable decision to have sex. Intercourse happens to women, according to this belief system, and without contraception, so can pregnancy. There is time to roll on the condom, but not time to forego the act.

But everyone knows that is a lie and it kills the credibility of those who propagate it. If abortion/contraception advocates were honest about their condescending views, they would say what they really think: poor women are only smart enough to prevent pregnancy with birth control, but they are too stupid -- or too primitive -- to abstain.

Mainstream media outlets naturally advance this perspective, and the New York Times story about the Guttmacher study was one example. Its lead:

Contraception use has declined strikingly over the last decade, particularly among poor women, making them more likely to get pregnant unintentionally and to have abortions, according to a report released yesterday by the Guttmacher Institute.

It strains their credibility when reporters parrot the claim that poor women who don't use contraception are made "more likely" to become pregnant and are forced into abortions. It's as though Guttmacher planted its seed with the Times and conceived its dream article.

How could a truly objective reporter have fixed this paragraph? By changing the phrase "particularly among poor women" to "particularly among poor women who are sexually active." Or by changing "making them more likely..." to "leading them to decide to end their pregnancies through abortion...." But such differences are lost on most reporters in mainstream journalism.

Even Guttmacher's people would agree that at some point between the time a man and woman meet, and the time they consider consummating their relationship (regardless of how long that is), an "active" choice must be made. Abstinence advocates recommend that pregnancy prevention (the "active" decision) be implemented through the avoidance of sex. But "family planning" activists like Guttmacher's believe that choices about sex -- whether it be abstinence or engagement -- be left to the urges of the individual, who should then be entitled to publicly-funded contraception, if he or she is poor. Then they will be spared (they hope) from the passively experienced "unwanted pregnancy."

Abstinence advocates and abortion opponents would do well to undermine the pro-choicers' laughable "unwanted" and "unplanned" pregnancy emphasis. Since the beginning of time sex has been desirable but conception less so, but until recently most people seemed to understand the link between the two.

There's no reason everybody else should have to pay for the sex poor people want and the pregnancies they don't want.

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About the Author

Paul Chesser publishes CarolinaPlottHound.com, a news aggregator for North Carolina, and is a contributor of articles, research and investigative reports for both national and state-level free-market think tanks.