The Economist: Abortion and Birth Control in the U.S.

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The Economist has an interesting piece about the abortion-adoption-contraceptive debate.

FAMILY planning and birth control is one of many areas where America has gotten itself wrapped up in a decades-long hysterical moralistic argument over issues whose solutions ought to be obvious to any mature adult. It’s rather silly that we’re still arguing over problems that were really settled by about 1977, but there you are.

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It’s true that birth control is reasonably widely available in American drug stores. But the rate of usage of birth control is much lower in the United States than in Western Europe and the rest of the developed world. Hence, unsurprisingly, America’s rates of teen pregnancy and unwanted pregnancy are much higher than in most other developed countries, as is America’s rate of abortion. Rachael Phelps had a pretty great photo essay about this in Slate back in October. The average age of sexual debut in America and Europe, she noted, is the same: 17. But America’s teen pregnancy rate is three to six times higher than Western European rates. And our abortion rate is about three times as high as that of Germany or the Netherlands and about double that of France.

And, in a conclusion that is sure to the ruffle the feathers of any Family Council-types who might read it:

I don’t think it’s true that the pro-life movement would gain any converts among liberals by dedicating itself to increasing adoptions (even more than it already has), even if adoptions weren’t already widely available. But I do think that the pro-life movement would gain itself a lot of political allies if it were to dedicate itself to dramatically increasing usage of contraceptives among American teenagers. That, obviously, is never going to happen, because a plurality of the pro-life movement actively opposes teenagers using birth control, due to a number of false and superstitious beliefs about teen sexuality that are unfortunately deeply rooted in American culture.

The entire thing is definitely worth the time it takes to read.