Pennsylvania Woman Going to Jail Over Abortion Pills

What the GOP could learn from Colorado's free birth control program — if they'd just open their eyes and take their fingers out of their ears.

In cheery news from the western part of our great state, a 36-year-old mom has been sentenced to a year to 18 months in prison for providing her 16-year-old daughter with abortion pills she obtained illegally from Europe in an attempt to end the daughter’s unwanted pregnancy. The mom, who’s single, works as a nursing aide, and told the court there was no local abortion clinic available to her daughter (thanks, Governor Corbett), who had no health insurance (thanks again, Governor Corbett) to pay for an in-hospital abortion. The daughter ended up in the hospital anyway after the abortion pills induced severe cramping and bleeding.

What a happy little tale.

If batshit Republicans are serious about lowering the number of abortions, you know what they should do? They should give up the slow, costly process of legislating abortion clinics out of existence and simply make birth control free for the asking for all the women in America.

Who ever heard of such a crazy idea? The state of Colorado, that’s who. In 2009, thanks to an anonymous millionaire, Colorado instituted a program that provided free birth-control implants and IUDs to low-income women across the state at 68 clinics. Over the five-year lifespan of the program, Colorado’s teen pregnancy rate dropped by 40 percent, the teen abortion rate fell by 35 percent, and the state saved more than $42 billion in medical costs. IN JUST ONE YEAR.

Here’s what Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, had to say about the program: “This initiative has saved Colorado millions of dollars. But more importantly, it has helped thousands of young Colorado women continue their education, pursue their professional goals, and postpone pregnancy until they are ready to start a family.”

And how did the right react to this all-around good news? Well, Focus on the Family’s Carrie Gordon Earll told the Denver Post, “Availability of contraception leads to increased sexual activity, which leads to unintended pregnancies and abortions.” In other words, Fingers in ears, na-na-na I CAN’T HEAR YOU! STOP HAVING SEX!!!

Last week, Ronnie Polaneczky had a terrific column in the Daily News about the terrible, tragic recent deaths of three young Council Rock students. The column was about how all of us, when we’re 15 and 16 and 17, do really stupid things. For some of us, those stupid things became learning opportunities, part of our personal lore, cautionary tales we tell the kids we go on to have. For others, those stupid things change our lives irreparably. And the difference between those two outcomes is pure dumb luck.

What the Colorado birth-control experiment shows is that teens are willing to take responsibility for their sexual lives. Given the chance, no doubt to the enormous surprise of commenters, they don’t want to go on welfare and keep on having kids. They want to do the right thing.

All they need is for us to give them the chance to. In Colorado, someone did. In Pennsylvania, thanks to Corbett and his bull-headed, hard-hearted friends, no one will. And now a hard-working mom who was trying to help her daughter is going to prison. Slow clap, guys. Good job all around.

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