Butterfly Cauldron

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Happy and sad at the same time. . .

More Louisiana women eligible for family planning services
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — About 75,000 poor and moderate-income women in Louisiana will be eligible for yearly doctors’ visits, Pap smears, contraceptives and other services under a new program aimed at reducing unwanted pregnancies, state health authorities say.

Louisiana is the 18th state that has received approval from the federal government to expand the availability of family planning services to women who otherwise do not qualify for Medicaid benefits.

Women from 19 to 44 and whose incomes are below 200 percent of the federal poverty line will be eligible for free annual gynecological exams, lab tests, birth-control pills and other forms of contraception.

Under some circumstances the program will also cover tubal ligations, Health and Hospitals Secretary Fred Cerise said Monday. He said the program will cost the state less money to provide free contraceptives than to pay the costs and cover potential complications associated with unwanted pregnancies.

State figures show 55 percent of all pregnancies in Louisiana are unintended.

The five-year program is being financed with money that the state currently sends to parish health units for family planning services. For every dollar the state puts up, the federal government will put up a $9 match.

The state expects to begin taking applications in November, Cerise said.
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On the one hand -- yay! More women getting access to reproductive health care! Given our extraordinary poverty level, it won't take long for all those federal dollars to be spent. Gods know there will be plenty of women who meet the financial criteria. So, on that count, good for us.

On the other hand -- 55 percent of all pregnancies are unintended. More than half. Let that sink in for a moment. More than half of the pregnancies in this state are unintended. Maybe not unwanted, but not planned. Let's say that a good chunk of those babies are like my brother -- happy surprises. My parents intended to put three to four years between thier children, but when Mom went in for a check up when I was 9 months old, she got a little surprise. Happens to lots of people, so...let's just say that oh, 20-25 percent of those unintended pregnancies happen to married and/or committed couples who are pleased with the news.

That still leaves 20-25 percent of them going to women/couples who are not happy. Who don't want them. With the difficulty obtaining abortion in this state (waiting periods, clinics clustered at the very south and very north ends of the state, costs, transportation problems, etc.) lots of those babies are going to be born. Some will be given up for adoption, but not that many. So....unwanted babies born into families that, likely -- given that our poverty rate was insane before two hurricanes smashed our economy to bits -- cannot afford to provide for them. So, say, one in four children in Louisiana. That's just....it makes me want to cry.

It also makes me want to shake people. It's good that more women are going to have access to reproductive health care. It's wonderful. But what about those women who miss the critera because they make $100 too much a year? Or those who don't hear about the program? Or those do, but can't get the time off their low-wage jobs to take advantage of it?

I realize there are no prefect solutions (well, you know, maybe universal healthcare, but...)and this is good news, overall. But still...one in four children born unwanted? That's way too many. (And that's just my taking guesses at the numbers. From what I've seen, it's probably more than that.)

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posted by Zan at 12:56 PM

3 Comments:

Having worked in child abuse intervention and prevention, I can tell you that unwanted children do not have an easy time of it. Even if the parents do their best, had they been ready for a child, this one would be wanted. And for poor, single women, who find their futures curtailed even more by this child -- to allow them to face this future without the support of the community around them, is a crime.

3:11 AM  

That's what I don't understand about people who are supposedly pro-life. Aborition is their end all, be all. But they haven't followed that line of thought to it's logical end. No abortion means more babies being born. (I'm ignoring for the moment that it also means back alley abortions and more maternal death.) Those babies are going to require care -- doctors, food, clothing, education and all those little things you never even realize until you've got a baby to take care of. Those things cost money. Money that, in a lot of families, isn't there. So that means the parent(s) have to take on more jobs. More jobs leaves them with less time to spend with their child. Children who grow up without a stable adult/parent presence in their lives tend to get into more trouble. Not because they're bad kids (even though that's how they're going to be labeled) but because they haven't had the adult guidance necessary for them to develop a good sense of right and wrong. And when these troubled kids are running around town, all the Good People will be crying out for the law to Do Something About It and we've created another generation who feel unloved, unwanted. misunderstood and not valued.

Why? Because the Good People who are so very pro-life refuse to do anything to improve the lives of children already here. Once a child is born, they're completely hands-off. Those kids and those parents are on their own. If they're lucky, they've got family to help them. Or good friends who'll pitch in. But usually, no.

I'm always struck by the hypocracy. It's not our buisness when you give birth to a child you cannot afford to feed, but it's definately our business when you want to abort before the fetus has any awareness or resembles anything remotely human. I just want to hit those people.

6:52 AM  

That is really great news, but yeah, I won't be happy until there's free universal healthcare for everyone.

And don't get me started on "pro-lifers". The only "life" they care about are ones that haven't even started yet. Why don't pro-lifers advocate adoption more? Their alternative solution never seems to be anything but "ENJOY MOTHERHOOD!" And where's the pro-life anti-war movement, or anti-death penalty movement? If every life is precious, why aren't they fighting for the lives of "our enemies" or murderers or rapists and child molesters? Aren't their lives precious too?

1:21 PM  

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