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Prevention First Act

St. Louis ReviewFrom the St. Louis Review, 1/23/09:

The Prevention First Act, one of the first anti-life bills to be presented before the 111th Congress this month, is another issue carefully being watched by the pro-life movement.

The intent of the legislation, according to sponsors, is to reduce unintended pregnancy, reduce abortions and improve access to women’s health care. But those in the pro-life movement disagree.

The House version, H.R. 463, is sponsored by Rep. Louise McIntosh Slaughter, D-N.Y., and co-sponsored by 110 others, including Reps. Russ Carnahan and William Lacy Clay, both Democrats from Missouri. The Senate version, S. 21, is sponsored by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and co-sponsored by 15 others.

“This legislation essentially says that access and funding of contraceptives is going to reduce abortions,” said Deacon Larry Weber of the Missouri Catholic Conference. “But there’s no empirical evidence that says it does.”

Provisions of the legislation would make birth control more accessible to college and low-income women; fund Title X, the nation’s family planning program, which includes artificial contraceptives; expand access to reproductive health care services for low-income women through Medicaid; require equity in contraceptive insurance coverage; and promote awareness of emergency contraceptives.

“There’s anecdotal evidence that says the failure of contraceptives is significantly higher among the population of women most at risk of getting abortions,” said Weber, which is typically 18 to 25 years old. “There’s a false illusion that you’re protecting yourself from not only pregnancy but venereal disease by using contraceptives, and that’s just not true.”

More information on the Prevention First Act can be found on the web at thomas.loc.gov/home/bills_res.html.

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