Is the Pregnancy Assistance Fund “Common Ground?”


The administration has dispersed millions of dollars in funding to help women and teens who are pregnant and struggling, and it is being coined a “common ground” approach to reducing abortion numbers. But it is really the “common ground” it is being hailed as?

Via CNN:

The Obama administration announced its first round of grants from a new fund aimed at helping pregnant women and parenting teens on Wednesday, a move the White House framed as part of its “common ground” approach to abortion.

The Health and Human Services Department distributed $27 million for the federal government’s Pregnancy Assistance Fund on Wednesday, the department said in a press release, awarding grants to 17 states and 13 American Indian tribes

The grants support programs helping pregnant women and teen parents who are trying to complete high school or who need assistance with health care, child care and housing, HHS said. The grants can also be used to combat violence against pregnant women.

But advocates call the program “common ground” by stating “both pro-life and pro-choice groups support it,” then only quote anti-choice groups both for and against the fund.

Moderate religious groups hailed the fund’s creation.

“Pro-life and pro-choice people have gotten behind it so it’s a good first step at reducing abortion and providing support for healthier babes and mothers,” Kristen Day, executive director of the anti-abortion rights group Democrats for Life of America, told CNN when HHS launched the fund in July. “Once we show how effective this is we can go back and expand this program.”

But conservative anti-abortion groups greeted the fund more skeptically.

“This money is mandated for services for pregnant teens and women – violence prevention, vocational training,” said Carrie Gordon Earll, a spokeswoman for CitizenLink, the public policy arm of the evangelical group Focus on the Family. “It would be inaccurate to characterize it as ‘abortion common ground’ since it doesn’t specifically address abortion.”

Is putting in more support for pregnant women and teens common ground in trying to bring down the numbers of abortions in this country?  Sure, assuming that those women did in fact want to be mothers.  But there seems to be an assumption that we find common ground by converting unwanted pregnancies into wanted pregnancies, rather than trying to stop unwanted pregnancies before they are conceived.

Real, comprehensive sex ed that informs sexual partners, abdundantly available, cheap, or even totally subsidized contraceptives — these are the programs that pro-choice people advocate for and push, and would happily get behind and support.  These should be the priorities. And yet we cannot seem to find anyone interested in making these standard. 

Common ground is making every pregnancy a wanted pregnancy because the majority of them were planned, not only because a majority of them were provided extra support to carry to term.

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  • invalid-0

    Unfortunately, author, pro-choicers don’t get to unilaterally pick what the “common ground” is – we both have to agree on it.

     

    Personally, I think that supporting pregnant women that choose to carry to term is an outstanding common ground.  We support a woman’s choice, and the abortion is averted.  Isn’t that a win-win?

  • prochoiceferret

    Unfortunately, author, pro-choicers don’t get to unilaterally pick what the “common ground” is – we both have to agree on it.

     

    It doesn’t work so well when one side won’t even agree that better availability of contraceptives is a good thing, don’t you think?

     

    Personally, I think that supporting pregnant women that choose to carry to term is an outstanding common ground. We support a woman’s choice, and the abortion is averted. Isn’t that a win-win?

     

    Supporting the choice of women who do what you want them to do is not the same thing as “supporting a woman’s choice.” Or was Stalin supporting free speech whenever he ordered another Communist pep rally?

     

    Anyway, if you support supporting pregnant women who choose to carry to term, then you’ll certainly want to rail against Chris Christie, a Republican governor who recently cut $7.5 million in family-planning funds in New Jersey.

    • invalid-0

      It doesn’t work so well when one side won’t even agree that better availability of contraceptives is a good thing, don’t you think?

      Or when one side won’t agree that giving money to women in crisis pregnancies is a good thing.  If you want to argue over contraceptives, you can do that on another post.  This post is about money to support pregnant women who are carrying to term. And I would encourage this author to reconsider her view on it.  

      My point remains:  If one side doesn’t agree, it isn’t common ground.


      Or was Stalin supporting free speech whenever he ordered another Communist pep rally?

      You misunderstand the concept of “freedom” under American law.  Even if you have the freedom to do a particular thing,  The government is NOT required to support your choice.  The government may choose to endorse a pro-war rally so long as it does not suppress the anti-war rally.  That doesn’t mean the anti-war folk have any less freedom to express their view.  The government can endorse whatever it damn well pleases.

      If I am a business owner, I have the freedom to decide whether or not hire.  That doesn’t mean the government can’t offer me incentives if I choose to hire.  Your notion that a government must equally fund both sides of any coin for there to be “true support of choice” is, well… stupid.


      Your reference to Gov. Christie is misguided for the same reason.

  • colleen

    While 27 million isn’t a great deal of money, I wonder what organizations these funds have been/will be dispersed to and how many of those organizations will be CPC’s or ‘faith based’. I’m also wondering which states have been selected to receive the funds and the rationale for choosing those specific states over others.

    Also  Kirsten Day has no business pretending to speak for the pro-choice movement or pro-choice organizations.

  • crowepps

    Is putting in more support for pregnant women and teens common ground in trying to bring down the numbers of abortions in this country?  Sure, assuming that those women did in fact want to be mothers.  But there seems to be an assumption that we find common ground by converting unwanted pregnancies into wanted pregnancies, rather than trying to stop unwanted pregnancies before they are conceived.

    This isn’t an either/or situation.  Obviously, being effective at stopping conception when it is unwanted is a great goal.  There are, however, instances in which the pregnancy began as ‘wanted’ and then economic or social circumstances make it difficult for the woman to complete.  It isn’t hard to think of scenarios:

    “I’m pregnant and thrilled about it, say you’re happy too?” “Gee, the wife you didn’t know about is also pregnant and I came here to tell you I’ve decided to break up with you and stay with her.”

    “Honey, after all that trying we’re pregnant!”  “Unfortunately the company declared bankruptcy today, we’re all laid off and our health insurance has evaporated.”

     

    If the reason a pregnancy is unwanted is ONLY for economic reasons, then this sort of program is a real plus.  If the reason a pregnancy is unwanted is ONLY because being pregnant/having an infant will make it impossible to go to school, this sort of program is a real plus.

     

    Is this ‘common ground’?  I would think that anything which enable women to make their choice on the basis of they WANT to do instead of what they feel the economic/social position they are in FORCES them to do should be considered common ground.

    • robin-marty

      the problem to me with this as a “common ground” argument is that it is making the assumption that all women (and teen girls) want to be mothers if given the opportunities to help them do so. It makes it seem like if a teen was told “Ok, here’s a nanny so you can continue school, a $1000 a month stipend for diapers and formula, and a house to live in” the girls would all go “Yup, totally in! Give me a baby!”

      I’m not saying that supporting pregnant women and girls who want to carry their pregnancies to term is wrong. I think it’s worthwhile and valid. But no, I don’t consider it common ground, because it implies that the common ground is that all girls and women should be provided with the material needs to help them have babies. I want the focus to be “all women and teens should be provided with the tools to become pregnant WHEN THEY WANT TO. And frankly, I think that it would be a better focus because money on sex ed and contraceptives goes much further than the amount that would need to be spent to provide cribs, diapers, formula, etc.

      Why can’t we have both be common ground? I’d love that. But as we’ve already seen, we can’t. The only common ground allowed is to support the pregnancy after it happens.

  • prochoiceferret

    Or when one side won’t agree that giving money to women in crisis pregnancies is a good thing.

     

    Articles like this really need to have a sign like you see outside some amusement-park rides: “Your ability to understand nuanced argument must be at least THIS DEVELOPED ☞ to read this article.” I’m so sorry that your need for black-and-white clarity is making you lament that Robin isn’t exactly orgasming over the assistance fund.

     

    This post is about money to support pregnant women who are carrying to term. And I would encourage this author to reconsider her view on it.

     

    I would encourage you to reconsider your view on abortion, but that ain’t gonna happen, either.

     

    My point remains:  If one side doesn’t agree, it isn’t common ground.

     

    What if a more conservative faction of one side believes it would be inaccurate to characterize the fund as ‘abortion common ground’ since it doesn’t specifically address abortion?

     

    You misunderstand the concept of “freedom” under American law.  Even if you have the freedom to do a particular thing,  The government is NOT required to support your choice.

     

    So you support a woman’s choice, but you don’t support the government actually doing anything to support it. I guess it’s sort of a “silent moral support” thing.

     

    Your notion that a government must equally fund both sides of any coin for there to be “true support of choice” is, well… stupid.

     

    So you wouldn’t complain if the government banned all donations to Republican-leaning groups. After all, it’s not like they would be taking away your choice of political party.

     

    Your reference to Gov. Christie is misguided for the same reason.

     

    Seems you’re not all that interested in “common ground” after all.

  • crowepps

    My point remains:  If one side doesn’t agree, it isn’t common ground.

    This statement perpetuates two common misconceptions: first, that there are ‘two sides’ to this issue, and second, that if any one person doesn’t like an idea, he/she can assert that their ‘side’ has rejected it.

     

    The ProChoice people here do not all have the exact same opinions on each subissue, although ALL of them uphold the principle of self-determination for others, and the opinions of the ProLife people aren’t monolythic either, although most of them seem to assert the anti-freedom platform of ‘my position is the only right and moral position and death is appropriate for those who don’t/won’t comply.’

  • crowepps

    I think you’ve fallen into the logic trap of ‘one solution has to solve all the problems’.

     

    Women/girls who want to carry their pregnancies to term and cannot for social economic reasons have an entirely DIFFERENT problem from women who do not want to be pregnant at all.  Supporting THEIR pregnancies after they happen is indeed common ground, because ProChoice people support their Choice and ProLife people are (reluctantly) willing to support them in order to keep them from having abortions, although they’re NOT willing to stop calling them stupid sluts.

     

    I do indeed see your point — once the support is in place then the ProLife argument will be a variation on ‘if there’s support available then you’re OBLIGATED to stay pregnant and if you refuse you’re SELFISH, blah, blah’.  I’d remind you that’s the ProLife argument NOW, without the support.

     

    I absolutely agree with you that education and contraception to prevent pregnancy until it is an OPTIMAL time to have a child is preferrable, but I’m afraid I’m more cynical than you are.  I think with TONS of education and widely available cheap contraception there will still be pregnancies at suboptimal times for dumb reasons like ‘I thought a baby would make him stay with me’ and ‘I wanted somebody to love me’ or ‘my girlfriend had a baby and it’s so cute’.  Trying to prevent the ‘average American’ from screwing up their and their children’s lives by making stupid decisions is like trying to bail out the ocean with a teaspoon.

  • arekushieru

    I think what Robin and all others are trying to say is that when you break it down, it really isn’t common ground, after all.  The underlying meaning is that AFter one is pregnant, anti-choicers work from the basic premise that all women want to be mothers so they must be encouraged to do so no matter what the means.  While ProChoicers believe that all women can still decide whether they want to be mothers or not.

     

    With your second scenario, where girls choose to get pregnant for a variety of illogical reasons, they are still choosing to be mothers. 

  • crowepps

    If ProChoice people support pregnant women who need help because they support their CHOICE and ProLife people support pregnant women who need help because they made the ‘right’ decision, I can’t see that that’s a huge problem.  The anti-choicers basic sexist premises and worship of rigid gender roles are not going to evaporate if the pregnant women do NOT receive the help.

     

    I do understand the qualms based on ‘give them an inch and they’ll take a mile’ however remember that while arguments about whether something is ‘common ground’ may be bloodless, their EFFECT on actually passing laws that provide support for pregnant women is ‘real life’.

     

    Common ground is where those concerned with an issue, based on entirely different premises and beliefs, agree that a PRACTICAL ACTION should be taken.  It is not ‘common belief‘ but instead ‘let’s go ahead and DO this one thing because DOING this is good under both of our belief systems.’

     

    In my opinion, abortion and birth control and sex are just side-issues to the real argument anyway.  The REAL disagreement is over whether women are equal citizens who have the right to make their own decisions about what their lives will be or whether women will go back to being ‘controlled’ by being restricted into rigid roles as domestic appliances for men.

     

    Slavery seems to be an endemic problem in human societies, and it is ALWAYS justified by the same tired three arguments we hear now: God/biology made the master and the slave ‘different’ so those roles are ‘natural'; history ‘proves’ that the slave class needs to be controlled for its own good; and it will be the end of our society if slavery is abolished.

  • colleen

    I think the devil is in the details in this one because what ‘pro-life’ folks mean by ‘help’ for pregnant women is often cruel, dishonest, dehumanizing and not at all helpfu to the women themselves.

    Likewise I am very much opposed by tax dollars going to ‘faith’ based boondoggles which provide little actual assistance to their target demographic, are not accountable to anyone and are able to engage in active discrimination with impunity. I feel that the religious right should learn to tithe rather than depend on taxpayers for funding a service that mostly benefits fundamentalist Christinas who would be unemployable anywhere else. 

  • crowepps

    My assumption was, and I realize now that I could be entirely wrong, that the assistance programs would be delivered through government programs administered by unbiased government bureaucrats and be entirely devoid of slut-shaming, religious proselitizing or invasions of the privacy of the women involved.

     

    If the money is going to be funneled through or controlled by CPC’s, sign people up for services ‘right after you attend Sunday’s service’ or finance people insisting ‘what you REALLY need is a personal relationship with Jesus’, I’m also totally against it.

  • crowepps

    Southcentral Foundation

    Anchorage

    $345,000

    Fairbanks Native Association

    Fairbanks

    $250,000

    Kodiak Area Native Association

    Kodiak

    $236,000

    http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/09f/state_charts2.html

    Southcentral Foundation is also a Native Corporation

  • arekushieru

    I guess I’ve always viewed common ground as a common basis or grounding for something, which could refer to either practice/theory or belief.

    I also think that searching for common ground CEDES just as much ground to the opposition as it shares.  

  • colleen

    I have no problem with native corporations getting some of this money….although, having lived in the SE for several years, I know that some of the native corporations up there get a lot of oil revenue and many of the tribes down south are shockingly poor.I also have no problem with funds actually helping single mothers or, for that matter, ANYONE with further schooling.

    I would be interested to know where the money is to be distributed down south.

     

     

     

  • crowepps

    There’s a complete list at the link in my previous post.  Most of it is going to State agencies or Tribes.