One of Sightline’s five sustainability principles is to ensure that every child is wanted. Preventing unplanned pregnancies brings compounding benefits: far fewer abortions and infant deaths, less child abuse, and smaller future populations.
And a future of wanted children is within reach if we combat poverty, guard against sexual abuse, and expand access to reproductive healthcare.
Preventing unwanted and mistimed pregnancies brings compounding benefits: it prevents abortions and leads to healthier children. Children conceived intentionally receive better prenatal care and are less likely to have dangerously low weights at birth or to die in infancy. They display superior verbal development in their early years and are less likely to endure abuse and neglect.
Consequently, fewer wanted children end up in the child welfare system, including juvenile courts and foster care. Preventing unplanned pregnancies also slows population growth, alleviating pressure on Cascadia’s natural heritage.
Ensuring that every child is wanted is a commitment to prevention: Prevention, rather than punishment, for unplanned pregnancy means guaranteeing access to affordable reproductive health services, including contraceptive coverage from both private insurers and public clinics.
It also means universal, over-the-counter access to emergency contraception. Preventing unplanned pregnancies makes abortion rare, but it does not obviate the need for safe, legal abortion services. The weight of tragic historical and international evidence is that, in the real world, the alternative to safe, legal abortions is unsafe, illegal ones.
Ensuring that every child is wanted also requires preventing deprivation and trauma among young people. More than 80 percent of under-20 mothers in the United States grow up in poor or low-income households; more than 60 percent of under-18 mothers in Washington are survivors of child sexual abuse.
Poverty and abuse rob the young of confident hopes for their futures, and early parenthood is just one of many unfortunate consequences.
Ultimately, then, ensuring every child is wanted is about much more than birth rates. It’s about the strength of our families and communities.