David Frum

02.23.12

Why the Birth Control Issue Stings

Right now, hundreds of thousands of young Americans are using birth control to delay pregnancies they want, but feel they cannot currently afford.

If this poll is correct, almost one-third of young Americans have delayed starting a family because of the bad economy.

Think about how last night's debate sounded from the point of view of such people.

They are starting their careers in the worst economy since the Great Depression. Even when recovery comes, they face narrowing life prospects in an economy where more and more of the rewards are taken by fewer and fewer hands. The party on display on the stage in Mesa proposes that most of the burden of fiscal adjustment fall on their generation—while exempting the more fortunate generations now over 55. And as they try to cope responsibly with these harsh circumstances by postponing fertility, they hear one of our two great parties debating whether they are doing something morally objectionable—and nobody raising a sympathetic voice on their behalf or expressing any understanding or even acknowledgement of their situation.

Remember that saying about voters do not care what you know, until they know that you care? When the GOP candidates talk about contraception, they need to remember to signal that they understand and care about the difficulties of the young people—and especially the young women—who use that contraception, for reasons important to them, in an economy that prevents so many of them from making the choices they most want to make.