Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Fight for Contraception: Look at Unmarried Births

Believe it or not, "Righteous Rick" Santorum was right about the number of unmarried births in America, so I don't understand his war on women's health with his stance against contraception.

According to 2009 data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 41 percent of all births were to unmarried women. The percentage has risen steadily since at least 1980, the earliest year for which data was provided in the CDC report. In 1980, it stood at 18.4 percent. By 1990, it was 28.0 percent. And by 2000 it was 33.2 percent.

"It has been increasing over the last 50 years," said Tom W. Smith, a senior fellow at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

While we’re on this topic, we’ll also look at an issue that Mitt Romney brought up later in the debate -- that "among certain ethnic groups, the vast majority born out of wedlock." This data is also included in the CDC report.

In 2009, 17 percent of births to Asian-Pacific Islanders were out of wedlock, with non-Hispanic whites at 29 percent, 53 percent for Hispanics, 65 percent for American Indians and Native Alaskans and 73 percent for non-Hispanic blacks. So Romney’s claim would be accurate at least for American Indians and non-Hispanic blacks.

Meanwhile, within age groups, unmarried births accounted for 87 percent of those to teenagers and 62 percent of births to women age 20 to 24. About 20 percent of births to women age 30 and over were to unmarried mothers.

But there’s been a reduction in unmarried teen births. Unmarried teen births (those to mothers from age 15 to 19) represented 21 percent of all unmarried births, which is far lower than the rate in 1970, which was 49 percent.

I wonder what these rates would be if the Republicans are successful in denying women their right to full health care. The economic status and education of women factors into the unmarried birth rates, so why are we trying to deny women who can't afford contraception their rights under the law and at the same time reducing funding for educational programs that would be useful in reducing unmarried birth rates.


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