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Good news on pregnancy assistance, sex ed; “common ground”?

Good news for mothers and children: last week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced the distribution of $27 million in funding to assist pregnant women. The grants will be used to help pregnant and parenting students complete their educations, serve pregnant women who are the victims of violence or stalking, and publicize resources available to teen mothers. The White House promoted this Pregnancy Assistance Fund as part of its "common ground" approach to reducing the incidence of abortion.

Robin Marty at RHRealityCheck doesn't think much of it:

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 initiative is trying to prevent those abortions that happen because a woman believes she has no better options. Marty considers this an attempt to  "[convert] unwanted pregnancies into wanted pregnancies" and doesn't consider it an area of common ground between pro-lifers and pro-choicers. But when a woman has an abortion because she can't afford to carry her child to term, is that really an unwanted pregnancy — or is it unwanted poverty?

How's this for common ground? No woman should ever be in a position where she feels that abortion is her only choice.

Now, I do agree with Marty that we should be able to find common ground on giving people the information they need to make fully informed choices about sexuality and contraception. That brings me to the second piece of good news: for the first time since 1996, the U.S. government is funding effective, evidence-based sex education programs. To be eligible for funding, a program must "be supported by at least one study showing a positive, statistically significant effect on at least one of the following categories: sexual activity, contraceptive use, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy or births."  There's room for improvement in those criteria, but it's a step in the right direction — away from the inaccurate, slut-shaming programs that have been getting the funds, and toward effective education.