Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Oh, The Irony

The article Unintended Pregnancy Linked to State Funding Cuts: First-of-Its-Kind Study Cites Impact On Teenage Girls and Poor Women from the Washington Post discusses an idea that I have only recently (!) stumbled upon -- the idea that government intervention in either a) restricting goods or services or b) restricting information about goods and services in the name of protecting the populace from some named evil, often ends up only hurting the young and the poor (or both).

Here are some exerpts:

At a time when policymakers have made reducing unintended pregnancies a national priority, 33 states have made it more difficult or more expensive for poor women and teenagers to obtain contraceptives and related medical services, according to an analysis released yesterday by the nonpartisan Guttmacher Institute.

From 1994 to 2001, many states cut funds for family planning, enacted laws restricting access to birth control and placed tight controls on sex education, said the institute, a privately funded research group that focuses on sexual health and family issues.

The statewide trends help explain why more than half of the 6 million pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended and offer clues for tackling problems associated with teenage pregnancy and abortion, said researchers who specialize in the field.
. . .
The problem is particularly acute for the nation's estimated 17 million adolescent girls and low-income women, because a lack of education and money are often barriers to practicing abstinence or effective birth control.

Now the serious irony:
The Guttmacher rankings belie conventional political wisdom. California, New York, South Carolina and Alabama have made the greatest strides in helping low-income women receive health care and contraception, despite the fact that the two coastal states are considered "blue" states that lean to the left politically, while the two southern states are deemed "red" for their conservative tilt.

At the same time, states as different as Nebraska, Ohio and Utah were among the worst when it came to providing access to contraceptives for needy women and teenagers, as well as gynecological exams and information on preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

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