The newly conservative 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 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 insuring they drop even further is better family planning, of the sort 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 obvious from a report that Washington's Department of Social and Health Services published in 2008 on pregnancy and birth statistics (see pdf). Noting high birth rates among Latinos, the report gave this explanation:
The high birth rates among Hispanic women are consistent with traditional values that associate motherhood with social prestige and security. Traditional Mexican cultures highly value children and family ties. In addition, a national survey reported that 88 percent of Spanish language-dominant Latinos find abortion to be unacceptable compared to 55 percent of non-Latinos.
The DSHS report also notes that Hispanics evidence healthier behavior 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, the state 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. Hmm, does anybody know of a low-cost provider of prenatal care? Oh, yes, Planned Parenthood.