“Lest We Forget”
More than 130 enthusiastic guests turned out for this year’s Harvest Supper and Silent Auction, sponsored by the Sagadahoc Democratic Committee. Among the speakers was July Kahrl, Director Emeritus of Pathfinder International, who reminded us what’s at stake as Republicans try to roll back the clock on Family Planning and erase hard-won reproductive rights women have come to take for granted. She pointed out that Family Planning is an economic as well as a moral or social issue. Here’s a partial summary of her remarks.
From the 1920s to 1950s little or no sex education was taught in medical schools, not to mention education about contraception and/or abortion. Only in 1937 did the American Medical Association adopt contraception as part of the core curriculum for medical students. But medical schools were slow to incorporate the subject into the core curriculum, often allowing it to be taught only outside class time and even off campus.
Until 1965, it was illegal for married couples to use contraception in Connecticut until in Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court declared that such an invasion of marital privacy was unconstitutional. And until 1971, because of the Comstock Law passed in 1873, it was illegal to advertise or mail any information about contraception or abortion.
Only in 1972 did the Supreme Court extend legal access to contraception to unmarried couples. Finally, in 1973 Roe v. Wade was made the Law of the Land by the Supreme Court, making abortions legal and safe for all women in the United States.
Since that time, because of many state regulations that defund family planning, abortion and contraception are becoming increasingly inaccessible. And Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and the Republican Party have all gone on record promising to defund Planned Parenthood nationally.
If a woman has no insurance and can’t pay for contraception, which can cost up to $600/year, then who is going to pay for her delivery of her child (which can run from $6,000 to $12,000) as a result her unintended pregnancy when she arrives at the Emergency Room door in labor? The Republican stance against women’s reproductive rights has economic consequences, as studies show that every $1 spent on family planning can save nearly $4 in expenditures on unintended pregnancy.
Republicans claim that women’s reproductive rights are a “distraction” from their focus on the economy. For us as taxpayers, and for women who no longer have access to reproductive health care, this is a major economic issue.
Our economy will improve when women are healthy because they can fulfill their needs for reproductive health care; their families will be healthier; our nation will be healthier. Let us not turn back.