Thursday, October 21, 2004

Two Posts About Abortion

FIRST: note this page of survivors of abortion attempts:

It's something that is rarely discussed, but sometimes children do survive abortion attempts. It's impossible to know exactly how many survive. However, here are a few stories of individuals we know have survived abortion attmepts. Some of them escaped relatively unharmed. Others were profoundly injured by their abortions. Their stories deserved to be told, regardless. Where possible, a photo of the abortion survivor has been provided so that you can attach a real, human face to the victims of abortions, who are so often dehumanized by efforts to defend abortion.

Is it significant that all of these survivors happen to be women? Probably not, but it's worth noting that when people talk about a woman's right to choose, she may be preventing another woman from ever realizing that very right.
(Food Chain: A Physicist's Perspective -> Blogicus)

SECOND: Is it possible that abortions are actually on the rise under the Bush administration?
I look at the fruits of political policies more than words. I analyzed the data on abortion during the George W. Bush presidency. There is no single source for this information - federal reports go only to 2000, and many states do not report - but I found enough data to identify trends. My findings are counterintuitive and disturbing.

Abortion was decreasing. When President Bush took office, the nation's abortion rates were at a 24-year low, after a 17.4% decline during the 1990s. This was an average decrease of 1.7% per year, mostly during the latter part of the decade. (This data comes from Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life using the Guttmacher Institute's studies).

Enter George W. Bush in 2001. One would expect the abortion rate to continue its consistent course downward, if not plunge. Instead, the opposite happened.

I found three states that have posted multi-year statistics through 2003, and abortion rates have risen in all three: Kentucky's increased by 3.2% from 2000 to 2003. Michigan's increased by 11.3% from 2000 to 2003. Pennsylvania's increased by 1.9% from 1999 to 2002. I found 13 additional states that reported statistics for 2001 and 2002. Eight states saw an increase in abortion rates (14.6% average increase), and five saw a decrease (4.3% average decrease).

(Via Andrew Sullivan)

I don't buy the argument (not included in the above quote) that the rise in abortions is due to the faltering economy. This comes more from leftist speculation than actual data. And the author notes that the data are incomplete, which seems like a pretty serious caveat.

I have often pointed out that people should not be single issue voters on the abortion question, especially at the presidential level where the impact is indirect at best. Ultimately this battle will be won by changing the culture, not changing the laws.

But if this report turns out to be accurate, it is still rather depressing.

UPDATE: Hmm. Looks like the study may not be that accurate after all. This from the National Right to Life:
A piece by a California seminary professor is appearing on the internet and an in several newspapers claiming that abortions have increased under the Bush administration. While trotting out what appear to be detailed statistics from several states, the professor has one basic problem: his numbers don’t hold up.


There have been no national figures published beyond 2000. Setting aside for the moment the question of whether the sixteen states Stassen uses to support his claim of a reversed national trend are representative of the country as a whole, Stassen’s case falls apart when one attempts to confirm the data he has reported.


That would leave just 6 increasing versus 8 decreasing states, the opposite of what Stassen claims. Stassen’s case falls apart.
Stassen’s thesis that abortion increases can be linked to job losses and other economic factors doesn’t even hold up to his own data.

While some states where Stassen said abortions increased also saw increases in their unemployment rates over those same years, there are also plenty of counter-examples. Illinois’s abortions dropped substantially between 2002 and 2003, in spite of its unemployment rate being stuck at 6.7%, among the worst in the nation. Ohio’s unemployment rate rose considerably relative to most other states, but abortions there declined. If the economic determinism Stassen assumes was valid, those state results would be reversed.

This is quite a relief. And note that they confirmed my earlier caveats about the incompleteness of the data and the bad-economy explanation. Of course, National Right to Life is not going to be perceived as an unbiased source by the general public, but I am less concerned about how this affects the election than about the overall effectiveness of the pro-life movement. I have been arguing lately that we are winning the abortion debate and I would hate to see that proved false.
(Via The Corner)

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