Another unintended consequence, apparently, of conservative economic policies.
For many Americans, the recession is affecting their most intimate decisions about sex and family planning. Doctors and clinics are reporting that many women are choosing abortions and men are having vasectomies because they cannot afford a child.
Planned Parenthood of Illinois clinics performed an all-time high number of abortions in January, many of them motivated by the women's economic worries, said CEO Steve Trombley, who declined to give exact numbers. Abortions at Planned Parenthood's St. Louis-area clinics were up nearly 7% in the second half of 2008 from a year earlier — ending a stretch in which the numbers were dwindling.
Planned Parenthood said it has no up-to-date national abortion figures, nor do other private or government agencies. However, Stephanie Poggi of the National Network of Abortion Funds, which helps women in need pay for abortions, said calls to the network's national helpline have nearly quadrupled from a year ago.
"A lot of women who never thought they'd need help are turning to us," Poggi said. "They're telling us, 'I've already put off paying my rent, my electric bill. I'm cutting back on my food.' They've run through all the options."