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Birth control and the church page 3
Richard Cizik's op-ed on evangelicals and contraception-Family Planning: A Beam In our Own Eye?

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Date published: 2/24/2013

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My challenge to fellow Evangelicals: Please do not block family planning efforts, globally or domestically, because of opposition to groups that provide both contraception and abortion. Instead, consider how a deeply pro-life moral commitment, focusing on the flourishing of all human beings made in the God's image, ought to lead to support for family planning.

Family planning reduces abortion. In the U.S. alone, according to Guttmacher, publicly funded family planning services helped to prevent 1.94 million unintended pregnancies in 2006, which would likely have produced 860,000 unintended births and 810,000 abortions.

Moreover, when woman are given access to birth control at no cost, the rate of unintended pregnancies and abortions drops dramatically. The "Contraceptive Choice Project," conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, enrolled 9,256 women and teens from 14 to 45 years of age in the St. Louis area between 2007 and 2011. The participants were all uninsured, low-income, or otherwise determined to be at risk for unintended pregnancy.

When given a choice of birth control, according to the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, since price was not a factor, about 75 percent of participants chose the implanted methods (IUD), which are more effective than short-term methods. Results were significant: The annual birth rate among teenage girls in the study from 2008 to 2010 was only 6.3 per 1,000, compared to the much higher U.S. rate of 34.3 per 1,000 for girls the same age. The abortion rates among participants ranged from 4.4 to 7.5 per 1,000 women over the two-year period, much lower than the national rate of 19.6 abortions in 2008.

Improving access to birth control, coupled with education on effective methods, has the potential to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortion. What is more morally acceptable, birth control or abortion? In my calculation, access to contraceptives and family planning is preferable to abortion.

Evangelicals are wont ask: "What Would Jesus Do?" I don't think it's as relevant as "What Would Jesus Have Us Do?" The answer seems obvious: Fund family planning. They also quote the Scriptures that "without a vision the people perish." A lost vision of justice is just one weakness of the American political system. One of the victims of political polarization is commitment to common good.


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PROTECTING LIVES OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN: WWJD?

Richard Cizik is president of New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.