Boebert’s remarks about rural teen pregnancies dodge a deeper truth | Heather MacDonald
Teen parents are at increased risk for poverty, hunger, domestic violence, and depression
Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado speaks during a debate against Republican Colorado state Sen. Don Coram at the Sky Ute Resort and Casino in Ignacio on May 26, 2022. (William Woody for Colorado Newsline)
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., announced last week that, at the age of 36, she was preparing to become a grandmother.
Her 17-year-old son and his teenage girlfriend are set to have a baby in April. Boebert used the announcement as an opportunity to display a stunning level of hypocrisy by praising teenage pregnancy as proof that conservatives understand the value of life.
“…Teen mom rates are higher in rural conservative areas because we understand the preciousness of the life that is about to be born,” she a crowd at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference.
The Reality of Teen Pregnancy
The reality of teenage pregnancy in low-income individuals is cruel and unforgiving, while the effects are both immediate and long lasting.
Teen parents are at increased risk for poverty, hunger, domestic violence, and depression. Teen pregnancy is the only factor that cuts a student’s likelihood of graduating high school in half, and less than 2% of teen parents go on to earn a degree before they turn 30.
This creates financial quicksand teen parents rarely escape. Women with only a high school diploma or the equivalent go on to earn 70-80% less than those with a bachelor’s degree. And as with most public health matters, the cost of teen parenthood is not just paid by those directly involved. Teen pregnancy in the US costs nearly $11 billion per year through lost tax revenue and the cost of social safety measures like welfare, healthcare, and foster care.
These statistics are proof that the label pro-life is meaningless. The countless agitators harassing women outside of Planned Parenthood go home, put their protest signs away, and reliably vote against women and children in every election.
The Anonymous Donor
Boebert’s home state of Colorado, like Pennsylvania, has a relatively low teen birth rate.
In Colorado this is not by accident. In 2009, Colorado became one of the first states to pilot a program focusing on modern family planning. An anonymous donor offered to fund an initiative aimed at providing contraceptives to low-income and at-risk women, and by every metric, the Colorado Family Planning Initiative was a success.
From 2009 to 2017, the teen birth rate and the teen abortion rate both fell by almost 60%, the steepest decline of any state.
Private funding allowed healthcare providers to sidestep the partisan bickering that typically accompanies matters as unremarkable, yet so often remarked upon, as women’s healthcare.
Compassionate and long-lasting solutions were the goal. Gone are the days of sex-ed demonstrations with a banana and condom. In its place are LARCs, long-acting reversible contraceptives. The LARC of choice in Colorado was the IUD, which is an implanted form of contraceptive that lasts up to 10 years while boasting 99% efficacy, the highest of any contraceptive device.
When the privately funded 8-year-long grant ended in 2017, the Colorado Legislature voted across party lines to continue to fund the program. The success of the program was monetarily quantifiable as well with infant enrollment in WIC falling by 26% in the first 4 years and taxpayers saving nearly $70 million by avoiding low-income mothers needing to utilize welfare programs.
In a state that has proven that straightforward sex education and birth control drop abortion rates, Boebert has denounced sex ed and called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Boebert’s faux affinity for the preciousness of life does not extend very far, certainly not to transgender children, gay adoptive parents, or pregnant teens not ready to become a parent.
Boebert herself was a teen mom, as was her mother before her. Boebert dropped out of high school to raise her child and was eventually able to obtain her GED in 2020 when she was in her 30s.
Her son is now the 3rd generation of teenage parent in the same family. These are the lingering effects of early parenthood laid bare.
After winning re-election in November by less than 550 votes, Boebert has done nothing but double down on hatred in the name of religious morals that are clearly malleable for the in-crowd only.
A teen mom becoming a member of Congress is the exception not the rule, and despite her personal experiences, Boebert is creating a dangerous and false narrative that teenage pregnancy showcases “values.” The selective morality on display is hypocrisy of the highest kind.
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