Apparently, when it comes to prioritizing fiscal responsibility or legislating conservative religious morality, the Republican party is less fiscally conservative than one might hope.
Writing for Think Progress, Tara Culp-Ressler notes that states have introduced more than one hundred bills so far this year to further regulate abortion, with more coming every day. (And that number was as of last week.)
Proposed legislation on the state level includes bills that would require women to watch anti-choice videos before they may proceed with an abortion, bills that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, bills that would restrict clinics’ ability to prescribe the abortion pill, and bills that would completely outlaw the most common surgical abortion procedure.
In related news, Salon‘s Katie McDonough examines the cost of the GOP’s anti-abortion crusade. Turns out fiscal responsibility takes a back seat to faith-based morality. In Kansas alone, McDonough writes, the state…
… has paid attorneys nearly $1.2 million to defend the flood of abortion restrictions the state has passed since 2011. As the Associated Press reported Tuesday, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced that the state paid a Lawrence-based firm nearly $800,000 in expenses related to multiple lawsuits, and had spent more than $400,000 on a Witchita firm defending a measure that cut off funding for Planned Parenthood.
Keep in mind that Kansas is currently dealing with a $344 million budget shortfall. And that family planning services have saved the state quite a bit of money:
And more than just being expensive to defend, sweeping abortion restrictions that target public funding for family planning and affordable, reliable access to abortion and contraception cost the state millions.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, the services provided at publicly funded family planning health centers in 2010 in Kansas helped save the state $81,303,000 in public funds. “That accounts for savings from reduced maternity and birth-related costs, along with reduced costs related to miscarriage and abortion and savings related to [sexually transmitted infection] screening and cervical cancer prevention services,” according to the report.
As McDonough points out, these financial realities are reflected elsewhere in the country as well; investment in family planning is a smart move no matter where you go.
… according to a 2014 analysis from Guttmacher, for every public dollar invested in family planning, taxpayers save $7.
How? By preventing unwanted pregnancies, obviously, but also by providing care that “reduce[s] the incidence and impact of preterm and [low birth weight] births, STIs, infertility, and cervical cancer.” Family planning funds, in short, are money well-spent, providing handsome savings — for public funds, and public health.
States like Kansas, however, don’t see it that way. So not only are these states limiting women’s rights and health care access; not only are legislators trying to mandate what essentially boils down to their religious beliefs about women’s reproductive choices; but they’re doing so at significant expense to the well-being, financial and physical, of their constituents.
This, perhaps, best puts the situation in Kansas in perspective:
Banning or otherwise restricting access to abortion is expensive; so is depriving people of affordable access to contraceptives. Kansas is currently doing both, while Brownback calls himself a fiscal conservative. Meanwhile in Topeka, school buses are being rerouted over concerns that a 60-year-old bridge can’t handle the weight and spending for roads and infrastructure is on the chopping block.
With more than a hundred bills introduced in just over a month, pro-life legislators around the country seem to be far more worried about imposing their religious beliefs about birth control and abortion on their constituents than tending to the necessary business of governing. Because ensuring that your state’s bridges stay standing isn’t as “pro-life” as telling women what kind of contraception they can access… presumably in the same way that wasting millions of dollars to police people’s reproductive choices and sex lives is somehow the “fiscally conservative” thing for “small government” to do.
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