(c) by Mary Griggs

I’m baffled by the number of contradictory thoughts that many anti-abortionists can hold without their heads exploding.

The first one is the relative value of life. These men know women – in most cases were born of and raised by women, are married to women, have women coworkers and advisors. Yet for all their interactions, they don’t give as much weight to living, breathing women as they do to the potential life in these women’s wombs.

Leonard Pitts wrote a powerful column the other day in which he asks if women’s lives are not as sacred as the fetus they carry:

It doesn’t seem to be, at least, not in the formulation embraced by the Grand Old Party. In that formulation, women are bystanders to their own existence, their individual situations subordinate to a one-size-fits-all morality, their very selves unimportant, except as vessels bearing children…

Mourdock and other conservatives frequently tout the sacredness of life, but they seem to have a rather narrow definition thereof. They seem to consider life sacred only until the umbilical cord is cut.

Exactly – these folks are not pro-life. They are only pro-birth.

Perhaps the most insidious contradiction about these pro-birthers is that they are trying to stop abortions. If they were really trying to reduce what they call a holocaust, they would immediately join Planned Parenthood in reducing the need for abortions.

In 2008 alone, nearly 10 percent of unmarried women ages 20 to 29 experienced an unintended pregnancy. About half of unintended pregnancies in this age group end in abortion, according to a study released April 24, 2012 by the non-profit Guttmacher Institute.

When researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine offered 9,256 mostly low-income women and teens free birth control, the number of unplanned pregnancies in the group fell to between 60 and 80 percent below the national average.

Receiving free birth control made teens – a group at particularly high risk for unintended pregnancies – 1/6th as likely to get pregnant. The teen birth rate among study participants was 6.3 per 1,000 women, a huge difference from the national teen birth rate of 34.3 per 1,000 women.

Likewise, the abortion rate among women in the program was 4.4 to 7.5 per 1,000 between 2008 and 2010. In the United States as a whole, there were 19.6 abortions per every thousand women. That’s a 62% to 78%  difference.

The World Health Organization reports on this connection: The most dramatic decline in abortion incidence occurred in Eastern Europe, where abortion is legal and safe. Since the fall of Communism, the rate fell from 90 per 1,000 women to 44. The decrease coincided with substantial increases in contraceptive use in the region.

These statistics are repeated across the planet – in Uganda, where abortion is illegal and sex education programs focus only on abstinence, the estimated abortion rate was 54 per 1,000 women in 2003, more than twice the rate in the United States (21 per 1,000 in 2003). The lowest rate, 12 per 1,000, was in Western Europe, with legal abortion and widely available contraception.

In defiance of these facts, these extremists fight against health care reform and that includes decrying any sort of contraception mandate. As part of the federal health care legislation, insurers now have to cover eight kinds of women’s services – everything from contraception to domestic violence counseling – without charging co-payments, deductibles or any other cost to the patient and it is driving the bishops and tea-baggers batty.

It is remarkably simple – many women seek abortions because of an unintended or unplanned pregnancy. The best way to reduce unintended or unplanned pregnancies is to improve access to affordable and effective birth control.

Save the heads. Support the fundamental right of each individual, throughout the world, to manage his or her fertility and watch the abortion rate drop.