On the “Increased Need” in Family Planning Services

This month the Guttmacher Institute released a report stating that women’s “need” for publically funded “family planning services” rose by 22% from 2000 to 2012. Federally funded health centers provided a large majority of the services indicated. These clinics receive support from the federal government through a law known as Title X, which allocates funds specifically for “family planning and related preventative health services.” The report claims that hundreds of thousands of unplanned pregnancies and abortions were averted through these measures. The left-leaning non-profit, the Guttmacher Institute, takes this to underscore “the critical importance of the Title X program”, because it is a “safety-net provider” that is “essential in enabling women to plan the pregnancies they want and avoid the ones that they don’t.” Their report intends to bolster support for federal funding of “family planning services” by demonstrating need and efficacy, but their research does little more than attempt to create the results they wanted to find.

The study’s definition of “need” makes visible the inherent bias. The researchers defined women “in need” as those women who were “adults with a family income below 250% of the federal poverty level, or teens regardless of family income, and were sexually experienced and did not want to become pregnant.” Essentially, this is teens and low income women who were having intercourse and not seeking children. But is there a true “need” for contraceptive services and equipment? The answer is that “need” only arises when one assumes that the sexual act and pregnancy are unrelated, and that the sexual act should be engaged in without regard for its life-creating potential. No one “needs” contraception unless he or she intends to engage in the sexual act and to deny what it has the potential to do—make babies.

familyThe concept of “need” defined by the report depends on the idea that women (and obviously the men who partner them), need to be having sex but cannot be bothered with a child. The “need” spoken of is created by society, and it sends the message that women and men must have sexual intercourse as much as possible in order to be happy. The place of sexuality within monogamous marriage is left out and assumed to be outdated. The Institute also ignores the many people who live happy, healthy and satisfying lives without sexual intercourse.

This strikes very at the very heart of our culture’s understanding of sexuality and what we deem “the good life”. Though sexual revolution was rather recent in America’s history, many of its principles have become strongly ingrained, such as the notion that a happy life must include frequent intercourse—often with multiple partners. This misleading principle is why the Church faces an arduous, uphill battle in proclaiming Her teachings about life, the family, and contraception in the West. The Church presents an alternative that celebrates truth, family, commitment and love and that brings individuals true happiness.

There is also a noticeable bias against childbearing in the report. It shows up as boasting of the money saved by all the hypothetically thwarted pregnancies. The implication is that a child is no more than unwanted expense.

This bias is also present in the report’s praise of Title X. Title X as a law is not without controversy because of its connection to abortion. Roughly one quarter of its funds go to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of abortions. Though Title X claims that its monies are for contraceptives, cancer screenings, counseling and specifically not for abortion, the financial support all goes to the same place. As the Guttmacher Institute hails Title X and funding for the socially acceptable guise of “family planning services,” support for this law simultaneously fuels the social environment for abortion.

There is a truly intrinsic link between contraception and abortion. Contraception promised to give humanity the ability to have sex without children. Abortion is simply the logical extension of this—the fail safe. When sexual intercourse succeeds at its natural function—conception—even when it is not intended, the child can be eradicated since he or she was never meant to exist in the first place. We deceive ourselves into thinking that sexuality can be separated from procreation, and because of the power of lust, it can be a tempting thought. Abortion is the final solution in the attempt to separate sexual intercourse from what it does—produce offspring. Any program that insists on the parting of sexual union and procreation, even one that seems more innocent such as contraception, has laid a foundation for an abortive mentality, a mentality that prizes indulgence over responsibility.

The Guttmacher survey purports to announce and support a public health need and accompanies it with praise and an implied demand for continued federal funding. However, the “need” it defines is only circular. The more society tells men and women that sex without children is required for happiness, the more “need” there will be for contraception and its counterpart, abortion.

spachecoStephanie Pacheco is a freelance writer and convert from Northern Virginia. She earned a M.A. in Theological Studies, summa cum laude, from Christendom College and holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia in Religious Studies with a minor in Government and Political Theory. Her work has been featured in America Magazine, Crisis Magazine, Soul Gardening Journal and syndicated by EWTN and Zenit. She blogs about making sense of the Catholic Faith in modern life at and lives with her husband and two young children.
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  • Harri

    Stephanie. You missed the big one. Governments are killing our young men and women by manufacturing “wars” or “conflicts’ and then recruiting and sending our loved ones to be slaughtered. They also slaughter the loved ones of other women and men. This is currently being done with drones so that the innocents are the main target not the actual perceived enemy. Why?
    So far the Catholic Church has neither the voice nor the inclination to take on the government. Is it because of the financial incentives and benefits given to the church?
    Is it easier to talk about abortion and contraception when you can’t do anything about them or are there too many difficulties if you speak out about military interventions that kill so many people that are innocent.