Thursday, January 17, 2008

Number of Abortions Lowest in Decades

From The Boston Globe:

WASHINGTON - The number of abortions being performed in the United States has dropped to 1.2 million a year - the lowest level since 1976, according to a new report.

The drop was driven by a decline in the overall rate at which women of childbearing age are getting abortions, which fell about 9 percent between 2000 and 2005, according to a nationwide survey. At the same time, the long decline in the number of abortion providers appears to be stabilizing, at least in part because of the availability of the controversial abortion pill RU 486, the report found.

The report did not identify reasons for the drop in abortions, but the researchers said it could be a combination of factors.

The total number of abortions among women ages 15 to 44 declined from 1.3 million in 2000 to 1.2 million in 2005, an 8 percent drop that continued a trend that began in 1990, when the number of abortions peaked at more than 1.6 million, the survey found. The last time the number of abortions was that low was 1976, when slightly fewer than 1.2 million were performed.

The abortion rate fell from 21.3 per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 in 2000 to 19.4 in 2005, a 9 percent decline. That's the lowest since 1974, when the rate was 19.3, and far below the 1981 peak of 29.3.

(emphasis added)

My Comments:
Don't you remember all the left-leaning Catholics who were claiming during the 2004 election season that the rate and number of abortions had actually increased in the years since George W. Bush was elected? And that we therefore might as well cast our votes for John Kerry who was "better" on all the other issues Catholics should be worrying about and whose policies would actually lead to fewer abortions than Bush's policies? If you don't recall, refresh your memory by reading the comments from some of the more liberal commenters under these October 2004 posts at Amy Welborn's Open Book blog (here and here).

Michael New, writing at National Review in August of 2005, pointed out the dubious source of that nonsense:

... Perhaps even more notoriously, ethicist Glen Stassen wrote a widely circulated article for Sojourners, arguing that abortions had actually increased after President Bush’s inauguration. This article was reprinted by a number of major newspapers around the country including the Charlotte Observer, the Miami Herald, the Houston Chronicle, and the Hartford Courant. Furthermore, Stassen’s research was cited in articles that appeared in the New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

There were a number of problems with Stassen’s analysis, including the fact he analyzed data from a small sampling of states. Furthermore, some states attributed their increases to more rigorous reporting standards. Nevertheless, Strassens's claims have stuck and become some of Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean's favorite stats.

However, in May the Alan Guttmacher Institute (no pro-life outfit) released a comprehensive survey which found that abortions had actually decreased in both 2001 and 2002. Considering the attention that Stassen’s faulty analysis received in both the mainstream media and the blogosphere, one would hope that media organizations would be interested in correcting this misinformation that Stassen and others disseminated during the 2004 election...
And even after Stassen's lie was exposed, there were still some trying to convince us that Republican policies were less likely to reduce abortion than Democrat policies, which allegedly decrease the so-called "need" for abortion.

And now we have this study from the Guttmacher Institute once again exposing the big lie that "Republican policies lead to more abortions" while "Democrat policies bring about a larger decline in the number and rate of abortions".

The numbers speak for themselves: since George W. Bush took office, there has been an 8% drop in the total number of abortions in the U.S. (the lowest since 1976) and a 9% drop in the rate of abortion in the U.S. (the lowest since 1974).

To my knowledge, no one is claiming that the policies of the Bush Administration are directly responsible for this drop. But that's not the point of my post. The point is to finally, once and for all, put to lie the notion that the number and/or rate of abortion has gone up or come to a "practical standstill" during the years that George W. Bush has been in office.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
National Review Online: Mainstream Media Continues to Distort on Abortion

Pro-Life Quote of the Day

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At 1/17/2008 10:32 AM, Anonymous M.Z. Forrest said...

I'm wondering how much the reduced numbers have to do with a reduction in the number of high school and college age girls. We just passed over the baby boomlet(Gen Y), so this could be where the reductions are coming from. It isn't like 35-year-old women have abortions as frequently as their 18-year-old counterparts. It is good news though.

At 1/17/2008 12:03 PM, Blogger Fr. J. said...

It is good news.

I am wondering about the number of young women myself. The large number of immigrant women and their daughters may counteract the decline of boomlet children.

The drop in total abortions is not that significant at 1.2 million, but the drop in the abortion RATE is very, very significant.

I am wondering if the number includes chemical abortions. If those need to be added, then there might not be an actual drop.

Anyway, this is a nice snapshot of the research and statistics wars which are proxies for the culture wars. Just shows that science in the hands of ideologues is not science.

At 1/23/2008 11:13 AM, Blogger Radical Catholic Mom said...

You need to read the latest report from the Washington Post about why there is a decline. Check out VN for the link.

At 1/23/2008 11:55 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

I don't think so, RCM. Blackadder's comments over at VN seem to be on the mark. I think this is the MSM trying to find the contraceptive black cloud behind the silver lining of fewer abortions.

It's sorta like the author of the linked article in this post saying that an increase in the use of birth control is responsible. The only problem is, as Fidei Defensor points out in the link below (see "Going to the Mountian - Births up Abortions down and the ensuing spin"), the same author recently penned a story about the increase in U.S. fertility rates, which he says is the result of a decrease in the use of birth control.

In sum, I don't trust the media to give the straight story.

There has been a steady decrease in abortion for about 20 years now, and I don't think it out of the realm of possibility, given the advances in ultrasound technology that makes everyone aware of the humanity of the unborn child, as well as a shift in the general cultural consensus about the odiousness of abortion, that abortions actually have fallen to their lowest level in over 3 decades.


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