Here’s the latest horror story from the Washington Post: More women are having babies!

“At a time when the medical community has been heartened by a decline in risky sexual behavior by teenagers, a different problem has crept up: More adult women are forgoing birth control, a trend that has experts puzzled — and alarmed about a potential rise in unintended pregnancies.”

Omigod! Rug rats! The Page One story by Post reporter Ceci Connolly continues: 

“Buried in the government’s latest in-depth analysis of contraceptive use was the finding that the number of women who had sex in the previous three months but did not use birth control rose from 5.2 percent in 1995 to 7.4 percent in 2002. That means that as many as 11 percent of all women are at risk of unintended pregnancy at some point during their childbearing years (ages 15 to 44).

“Because the survey is so large (more than 7,600 women) and known for its accuracy, ‘an increase of even two percentage points is worrisome,’ said John S. Santelli, a professor of population and family health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Even as he cheered the news that a growing number of teenagers are using contraception, Santelli wondered whether doctors are neglecting women.

“‘Maybe we’re failing with women over 21,’ Santelli said.”

Naturally, the Post story comes with an agenda, and the agenda here is clearly twofold:  #1: A blast at the Bush administration’s abstinence-based approach to sex education for young people instead of the “it’s OK as long as you use protection” approach favored by the sex-education elite. Connolly’s story notes:

“Many physicians put partial blame on federally funded abstinence-only education programs that by law prohibit discussion of contraceptives, except to detail their failure rates.

“‘We are spending an enormous amount of money on something that hasn’t been shown to work,’ [James] Trussell [director of the Office of Population Research at Princeton University]
said. ‘It’s a giant step backwards.'”

And here’s agenda #2: A plug for free–that is, taxpayer-subsidized–birth control for all women of childbearing age:   

“…Johns Hopkins University professor [Paul Blumenthal] said it is more likely that more women have found the cost of birth control burdensome.

“‘Because the number of uninsured has increased, these women might be on the short end of that stick,’ he said. Since 2001, the number of uninsured Americans has risen by 4 million.

“Jeffrey Jensen, director of the Women’s Health Research Unit at Oregon Health and Science University, said he regularly encounters patients who have trouble affording birth control, even if their private insurance covers it.

“‘It is absolutely unconscionable that women have a co-pay of $20 or $25 [a month] for contraceptives and men are getting off scot-free,’ Jensen said.”

Gee, all the rest of us have to make co-payments for our insured drugs–and what about those famous condoms that you guys in the sex-ed establishment are always plugging? Those cost money, too, don’t they?

The big problem with Connolly’s four-alarm story, as she sort of admits somewhere after the jump, is that the study she cites doesn’t distinguish between married versus unmarried women and those who might actually be trying to have babies versus those who aren’t. Those are big distinctions, and they ought to give pause to the hotshots at Princeton and elsewhere. The biggest demographic story of 2004 was the soaring birthrate in the “red” states of Middle America that swept Republicans into office in November, versus the declining birthrate in the elite “blue” centers of America.

A few weeks ago Vanessa Grigoriadis wrote a feature story for New York magazine, headquartered in bluest-of-blue Manhattan, about the rising number of couples there who have just one child. The main reasons Grigoriadis cited were the advanced ages at which Manhattan’s career-oriented wives decide to conceive and the sky-high costs of raising kids in a city whose public school system is terminally rotten. But she adds:   

“There are many reasons to have one child–population-control arguments and lifestyle arguments as well as a general desire to be more cosmopolitan and European (where the average family size is estimated at 1.4 children)….”

So it’s tres chic in the Big Apple to have just one child. So Euro! Meanwhile, as New Yorkers studiously copy the steep population decline that has reached crisis proportions across the Atlantic, many Middle American families are adding third and even fourth young ‘uns to their broods. That means three or four new little reds for every one little blue. That’s what I’d worry about were I at Princeton or Johns Hopkins.

It’s my belief anyway that “women over 21” are mature enough to make their own decisions about family size without the sex-ed pointy-heads fretting over whether we’re “failing with” them, and it’s interesting to see the decisions that many of them are clearly making.