Framing Choice

EDITED: Tim Ryan is actually a Democrat. My apologies for the error.

Big news on the family planning front today.  Representatives Rosa Delauro (D-CT) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) got the House to include $647 million for family planning and pregnancy prevention into the Appropriations bill.  The measure is titled: "Reducing the Need for Abortions Initiative." I hate, hate, hate how this is being framed but I can't help being excited at how the money will be spent.  It's the biggest shift on this front since Bush came to power.

Here are the changes specific to contraception from Tim Ryan's press release:

Preventive provisions:

Access to contraceptive information and services is an important element of preventing pregnancy. In addition to several funding increases for programs that increase access to contraceptives, the bill also contains provisions that seek to reduce teen pregnancy

-The first increase in more than 6 years for the Title X  family planning program,

-Teen Pregnancy Prevention Grants - a new Program at CDC - to support medically accurate, age-appropriate approaches to preventing teen pregnancies that include information about both abstinence and contraception, including the dissemination of science-based tools and strategies to prevent HIV, STD, and teen pregnancy.  

21 Republicans crossed party lines to vote in favor of the new funding.  Now they can go back to their districts and tell constituents that they voted for legislation that will help "reduce abortions." But the real news here is the shift on sex ed and funding for Title X.  Both programs have been nearly choked to death under the Bush administration.  This is a small step in the right direction.

Meanwhile anti-choicers still aren't happy...

From an article in the Hartford Courant:

Some groups, however, see the new effort as little more than hiding a bid to keep abortion legal.
Douglas Johnson, legislative director of National Right to Life, called the DeLauro-Ryan measure "a grab bag of existing programs. They're not trying to change policy. They're trying to change perception."

I don't like the framing.  It's wonderful to see money going back into Title X and sex ed, and I can't complain about the other provisions.  But I dislike the idea that adequate funding of these programs and grants for comprehensive sex ed are only important because they will reduce the number of abortions.    

Anti-choicers aren't buying into it anyway.  Again, they dislike sex ed and access to contraception as much as they dislike abortion.  Will this framing work with swing voters who have mixed feelings about abortion?  Perhaps, but I think it's more likely that talking about prevention this way will actually water down the entire debate about reproductive freedom.

Tags: Reproductive Rights, Rosa DeLauro, Tim Ryan (all tags)




Tim Ryan is a Democrat.

by rosebowl 2007-07-31 06:33PM | 0 recs
Re: correction

Sorry.  I'll correct this.

by Melissa Ryan 2007-07-31 06:36PM | 0 recs
Re: correction

not to be a bed-wetter, but it's Ryan not Ryn.

by rosebowl 2007-07-31 06:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Framing Choice

Aportions are a bad thing, bad for everyone. A necessary right that must be protected on every front with all our strength- but how is reducing abortions a bad goal? (i ask this half for the sake of argument)

by leewesley 2007-07-31 06:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Framing Choice

Abortions are most decidedly NOT bad for everyone.  If they were bad for everyone, no one would have abortions.

You can argue that unwanted pregnancy is bad, sure.    But many, many people will dispute your claim that abortions are bad, always bad, for everyone.

I don't understand why anyone has to use the labels "bad" or "good" for abortion, anyway.  The fact is, abortions are necessary sometimes.  They're a medical procedure that is often best for a woman's health.

by Maura in CT 2007-07-31 06:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Framing Choice

your right, my analysis was superficial, but isn't it fair to agree that the less abortions which are necessary the better? As a man who has gone through the process (as much as a man can anyway) im just saying im all about reducing the necessity of the procedure. Frankly I think there should Emergency Contracenptives in vending machines on every corner.

by leewesley 2007-07-31 06:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Framing Choice

Thanks for the reply.  We agree on the EC vending machines.  :-)  And I assume we agree on preventing unplanned pregnancies as much as possible.

But all the contraception and EC and good sex education and great health care in the world will never entirely eliminate the need for abortion.  Some women still will get pregnant unintentionally and will not want to carry pregnancies to term, for whatever reason is most important to their particular lives and circumstances.  In other cases, some women may have to terminate much-wanted pregnancies for health reasons.  The "abortion is always bad" framing adds an unnecessary and unhealthy societal shame to those circumstances and  feeds into a mindset which is contributing to the lack of access to abortion care for women around the country, which endangers women's lives and health.

by Maura in CT 2007-07-31 07:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Framing Choice

I think you may be completely correct- the idea that abortions are always bad can increase the kind of stigma and discrimination which is a center piece of sexism. I just can't shake the idea that every time an abortion is unnecessary is a good thing for society and more importantly the mother. At the end of the day I guess any justification for sex education is a good one. But i may be wrong.

by leewesley 2007-07-31 07:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Framing Choice

Unwanted pregnancies are bad and that's what leads to abortion.  This legislation will help stop unwanted pregnancies.

by Marylander 2007-07-31 07:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Framing Choice

this is a perfect articulation of my view. Thanks.

by leewesley 2007-07-31 07:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Framing Choice

No problem and I love your signature.  Very funny.

by Marylander 2007-07-31 08:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Framing Choice

Don't forget massive genetic defects. Think acephalic babies.

Who decides what's massive? The mother, of course!

by antiHyde 2007-08-01 03:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Framing Choice

The "abortion is always bad" framing adds an unnecessary and unhealthy societal shame to those circumstances and  feeds into a mindset which is contributing to the lack of access to abortion care for women around the country, which endangers women's lives and health.

I think that's right. But it's also true that sex-education and contraception clearly aren't intended to reduce the "much-wanted pregnancies" for which abortions are sometimes needed.  They are intended to reduce unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and in general "risky behaviors" - risky to young people's health, and risky to fetal health too (the fate of women AND fetuses are both legitimate concerns, according not only to voters and politicians, but to the authors of Roe, which is why they crafted the ruling to take both into account.) OK, so taking all this into consideration, how would we better frame such legislation?  Maybe "Protecting Youth and Fetal Health Initiative"...instead of "Reducing the Need for Abortions Initiative"?

by Rob in Vermont 2007-07-31 08:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Framing Choice

very interesting post, more on point than i could hope to be,
Yo im in Brandon, VT. Where you at?

Vermont:first nation in the world to ban slavery- 1776-1791
VT pride.

by leewesley 2007-07-31 08:21PM | 0 recs
More "abortion is bad" framing

I'm enthusiastic about any legislation that increases funding for contraception and medically accurate sex education.

However, the fact that we have to proclaim "IT REDUCES ABORTIONS, WHICH ARE BAD BAD BAD!" in order to achieve this is really pathetic.

by Maura in CT 2007-07-31 06:39PM | 0 recs
Re: More "abortion is bad" framing

I think it's all in the framing - I agree that "reducing abortions" is a poor way to frame it that implies that all abortions are bad.  However, I have no problems with "reducing the need for abortions", on two fronts:  1) in a preventative contraception vs. abortion argument, preventative contraception is always the more desireable alternative, and 2) it implies that there IS a need for abortions (i.e. that they're not simply a voluntary choice   used for contraception.  

by ThinkerT 2007-07-31 08:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Framing Choice

by Maura in CT 2007-07-31 06:40PM | 0 recs
You're wrong.

"Anti-choicers aren't buying into it anyway.  Again, they dislike sex ed and access to contraception as much as they dislike abortion."  Only certain people who would call themselves "pro-life" dislike access to contraception  as much as they dislike abortion.  Most Roman Catholics would be satisfied with tactics to reduce abortions through contraception and education.  I don't mind this framing.  It diffuses the issue of outlawing abortion/overturning Roe.  There is an enormous segment og the population that percieve themselves as "pro-life" but are not zealots.  Anything to stop the issue from being a political football for the Republicans is good to me.

by bookgrl 2007-07-31 09:23PM | 0 recs
Except it Won't

The Catholic Conference in CT fought with all it's might not to distribute Plan B to rape victims in it's hospitals.  Similar fights have been/are being waged in other states.  The fight against comprehensive sex-ed continues at the Federal, State, and Local levels.  My point is that the same people who lead the charge make abortion illegal are also leading the charge against family planning and sex ed.

This reframe does nothing to stop the political football.  That's the problem.

by Melissa Ryan 2007-08-01 02:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Framing Choice and anti-choicers

The framing isn't for anti-choicers.  It's to appease those who have no dog in the hunt but kind of think "abortion is icky".  They're nominally pro-choice, but they'd like to see the numbers go down.

And that may be the majority of the electorate.

by howie14 2007-08-01 05:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Framing Choice

I don't think it's bad framing, but then, I am an oddball on the issue.  (I think that abortion is usually immoral and would prefer it be outlawed, but only after most of the following conditions are met: free contraception for everyone, comprehensive sexual education, comprehensive adoption reform with adequate funding, and a great deal of money for medicine for early childhood and maternity.)  I think that abortions are always the result of bad circumstances, be it an unwanted pregnancy or unwanted medical complications.  No one does for fun, so it's not a vice.  I think that prevention of the circumstances is a terrific route for making life better for everyone and probably for better managing our resources.

My personal favorite frame on the issue is: "When you vote, you have a choice between two approaches to abortion.  One party wishes to reduce the number of abortions by preventing their need, and the other party wants to punish the women who get them."  Rephrase as needed.

by nanoboy 2007-08-01 06:29AM | 0 recs


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