Thursday, October 09, 2008

Abortion Facts

As it is nearly election time, the hot topic of abortion is in the air (which only seems to be a big deal in election years, interesting). I thought I'd share some interesting facts a ran across about abortion in the US. I'll leave the analysis to you. (Read the original post here).

Abortion Facts

Half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended.

Almost half of unintended pregnancies end in abortion.

The most frequent reasons given by women seeking an abortion are that a child would limit ability to meet current responsibilities and that they cannot afford a child at this point in their lives.

Unintended pregnancy has increased by 29% among poor women while decreasing 20% among higher-income women.

Women below the federal poverty level have abortion rates almost four times those of higher-income women.

Between 1996 and 2000, while abortion rates for all other groups fell, abortion rates among poor and low-income women increased.

The majority of women having abortions are in their 20s or younger.

Overturning Roe Vs. Wade Will Not End Abortion in America

Overturning Roe Vs. Wade, a long time goal of the pro-life movement, would not end abortion in the United States, it would simply send the decision to the states.

If states with more than 45% "pro-life" sentiment chose to outlaw abortion, this would only impact 16 states accounting for 10% of abortions nationwide, or less than 100,000 abortions a year.

Women in these 16 states would still be able to travel to seek an abortion in another state, or seek an illegal abortion, making the impact likely less than a 10% reduction in abortions nation-wide.

States with the highest abortion rates in the country, like California and New York, would be unlikely to outlaw abortion in their states.

Studies Show that Economic Support for Women and Families Reduces Abortion

In a recent study released by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good finds that social and economic supports such as benefits for pregnant women and mothers and economic assistance to low-income families have contributed significantly to reducing the number of abortions in the United States over the past twenty years.

Economic assistance to low income families is correlated with a 20% lower abortion rate. Across the entire United States, this translates into 200,000 fewer abortions.

In the 1990s, states with more generous grants to women, infants and children under the age of five as provided by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program had a 37% lower abortion rate.

Higher male employment in the 1990s was associated with a 29% lower abortion rate.

The abortion rate has declined most rapidly from 1990-1996 when there was an economic boom under President Clinton. While rates have continued to decrease, they have declined less rapidly in recent years when poverty rates have been climbing.

Legal Status of Abortion Does Not Necessarily Impact Abortion Rates

Nearly half of all abortions in the world are performed in countries that have made abortion illegal.

The lowest abortion rates in the world - less than 10 per 1,000 women of reproductive age - are in Europe, where abortion is legal and available.

By contrast, in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, where abortion law is most restrictive, the regional rates are 29 and 31 per 1,000 women, respectively.

These countries are also much poorer than the U.S. and provide fewer social services; and a larger proportion of their population lives in poverty.

In Western European countries, in contrast, where more social services are provided and fewer women live in poverty, the abortion rates are consistently the lowest rates in the world.

Source: Joseph Wright and Michael Bailey, "Reducing Abortion in America : The Effect of Economic and Social Supports" (Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good) and The Guttmacher Institute "An Overview of Abortion in The United States"


Chip Burkitt said...

I'll respond to the Abortion Facts one at a time:

1. It's disingenuous to claim that half of all US pregnancies are "unintended." The connection between pregnancy and unprotected sex is well established. Besides, what, exactly is an "intended" pregnancy? Aside from pregnancy through embryonic implantation, all pregnancies are a gamble. Why aren't we teaching our children that sex and procreation go together? As I have claimed before, that is the real root of our sky-high abortion rates.

2. Economic convenience is still convenience. If everyone had children only when they could afford them, world population would seriously decline.

3. I do not doubt that poor women have disproportionately more abortions. I don't think the reasons can be attributed solely to economic factors. Fifty years ago, when having an abortion was a criminal act in most states, only wealthy women could afford to travel to obtain a legal abortion. Criminal sanctions acted to reduce the number of abortions. If criminal sanctions were re-instated, the number of abortions nationwide would decline.

4. The reason why Roe v. Wade is so important to the pro-life movement is that all other efforts to restrict abortion at the state and federal levels have to conform to the legal reasoning of Roe v. Wade. If the Congress were to directly tackle Roe v. Wade, or if the Supreme Court were to overturn it with a new decision, then federal and state efforts to restrict abortion (or even ban it altogether) would stand a much better chance of succeeding.

6. Many pro-life groups support economic support to poor women who are pregnant. One of the biggest ongoing efforts is just to provide information. Women seeking counsel about an unwanted pregnancy are not likely to learn anything about abortion alternatives at crisis centers that offer abortion services. Why should they? Pro-life organizations have fought for years just to make sure women have information about abortion alternatives. For example, crisis pregnancy centers that offer high-resolution ultrasounds have seen dramatic declines in the number of women who opt for an abortion. A woman who sees the baby within finds it much harder to think of it as a thing to be discarded.

7. Abortion rates in Europe are distorted by the widespread use of contraceptives. Europe has successfully decoupled sex from procreation. Their low-income minorities, unlike those in the US, tend to be ethnic groups with strong religious and traditional proscriptions against abortion. Abortion rates in the US, where there are readily available social services comparable to those in Europe are similar to those in third-world countries. Why? Perhaps because there is still a large percentage of the population that thinks that sex and procreation have some essential connection.

Paul Hughes said...

The title for this posting is Abortion Facts. "Legal Status of Abortion Does Not Necessarily Impact Abortion Rates" - this statement is either fact or logical

Interesting to note the statistics of these "facts" - Guttmacher Institute

I looked up this organization and this is who they are (explaining why they seem to be against any laws that would ban abortions) :
The Guttmacher Institute is a non-profit organization which works to advance reproductive health as defined by the World Health Organization. The institute operates in the United States and globally "through an interrelated program of social science research, policy analysis and public education."[1] According to their mission statement, this program aims to "generate new ideas, encourage enlightened public debate, promote sound policy and program development and, ultimately, inform individual decision making."[1]

The Guttmacher Institute has played a leading role in the movement for women's sexual and reproductive rights since the institute's inception in 1968, when it was founded as the "Center for Family Planning Program Development", a semiautonomous division of The Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Center was renamed in memory of Alan Guttmacher, an Ob/Gyn and former president of Planned Parenthood, and the Guttmacher Institute became an independent, not-for-profit corporation in 1977.[2] Guttmacher's nearly four decades of experience claims to demonstrate that scientific evidence — when reliably collected and analyzed, compellingly presented and systematically disseminated — can make a difference in policies, programs, and medical practice.

Of course they are going to present arguments for not passing laws banning abortion.

Paul Hughes said...

Sorry -
The bgining of my last comment I misspelled the word (neither) by forgetting the "n". "Legal Status of Abortion Does Not Necessarily Impact Abortion Rates" - this statement is neither fact or logical

Nick said...

Hi Paul. I'm not sure how you want to handle this, via blog posts or on the phone, but I'll start here and feel free to call at any point.

Let me start by stating my views as clearly as I can: I am passionately against abortion. I want to see as few terminated pregnancies as possible. Abortion is always a failure, always non-best. However, I don't think overturning Roe v. Wade will do any good (or at least not as much good as most Republicans think it will do, and not as much as other actions could do toward reducing abortions). Let me list a number of reasons related to this and other issues.

1. I voted for Bush twice, and despite having the White house and a majority in both the House and the Senate for six years, they passed no significant anti-abortion legislation. It seems clear to me that the Republicans are not all that serious about ending abortion. They talk about it a lot in election years because they know it gets them elected, it is a hot button issue, but they do nothing about it.

2. Overturning Roe v. Wade would not outlaw abortion or end abortion. All it would do is turn power over to the states (John McCain aid in the last debate that this is what he is in favor of). Even if, at that point, a hand full of states passed laws making abortion illegal, it does not stop people from driving across state lines to get it done. I just feel like overturning RvW is like sticking a band aid on a tumor...and the crazy thing is how much attention that court case gets, when I believe it would do surprisingly little.

3. In addition, there is a lot of evidence to link abortion with low income or poverty (this is really a no brainer). So, one could argue that by passing laws that help single mothers, increase minimum wage, provide more health assistance to pregnant women who are single etc. could do much more for allowing women to take pregnancies full term than anything else. There are options like the 95/10 initiative that would seek to lower abortions by 95% in the next 10 years by providing resources where they are needed.

4. I am not a one issue voter. I do not allow a candidate's opinion on one issue determine my support. Truth is there are a number of issues that are important to me in addition to the ones mentioned above: the environment, war/peace, poverty, the economy, health care etc. I find myself agreeing with Obama on these other issues more than with McCain (though not completely).

5. The reason I signed up to rebuke that letter that focus on the family put out was to combat the use of fear as a manipulation technique more than anything. I thought that letter was in very bad taste and has come to exemplify the typical political we see all the time...and by a major Christian organization no less.

6. Lastly, let us never get to the point where we hang Christianity (ours or another's) on how they vote. Good Christians will love God and seek to do his will, but still come down on different sides of the bipartisan political landscape of our country (which I am against by the way). This should not divide us, but help challenge and balance us. But we can never look at those who disagree as 2nd class.

Thanks for starting the conversation, Paul.


Paul Hughes said...

I would like to respond to your 6 point summary of your views. I will take it in chunks to make it fit in facebook and post on your blog as well.

If you can respond to each post individualy, it will help keep points separated. I will try to keep this discussion to abortion, but for comparison purposes it may spill into other areas.

1) starting with my position on abortion: it is murder, a direct violation of God's commandment- "Thou shall not Kill". Abortion is a decision to kill an unborn child. The guilty parties are three parts - the mother, the doctor, and the government that allows this practice to take place.

"Let me start by stating my views as clearly as I can: I am passionately against abortion. I want to see as few terminated pregnancies as possible. Abortion is always a failure, always non-best." - I believe the level of passion may be different on this issue. I realize not everyone will share my intensity, but my stomach turns when I see anyone soften the harshness of what abortion is.
2) please note in the previous section that I stated the guilty party to include the government, this equals ME! In this country, the government is elected by the people- if something is unjust (like slavery), as abortion, it is my responsibility to elect officials that will fight to reverse the injustice. The "guilty" will not be the mother and doctor alone until we have laws in place that define the unborn as "an equal human" to the babies on the outside of the mom. Until that time, the government (which I as a voter am part of) is just as guilty.
3) The title of your posts - The first two are appropriate - "One issue voting and abortion vs. slavery". The third title "abortion facts" must be changed to abortion satistics and opinions. Facts are provable, which the statistics could count, but there are many statements that are not based fact at all. The conclusion that social programs will attribute to 200,000 less abortions vs overturning Roe v Wade equaling only 100,00 fewer abortions is pure THEORY, NOT FACT! Also, "Women below the federal poverty level have abortion rates almost four times those of higher-income women," is only half of the statement from the very source that you are stating for your facts. The complete statement is:The abortion rate among women living below the federal poverty level ($9,570 for a single woman with no children) is more than four times that of women above 300% of the poverty level (44 vs. 10 abortions per 1,000 women). This is partly because the rate of unintended pregnancies among poor women (below 100% of poverty) is nearly four times that of women above 200% of poverty* (112 vs. 29 per 1,000 women. This debunks that the financial healt is the factor on weather or not a woman decides to kill her baby, but confirms that if the pregnancy was intended or not is the driving factor.

4) efforts to reduce abortion on the way to making them illegal is good, but only a band-aid on a tumor. I am for these efforts as long as they are not substituted for the end goal of giving equal rights to the unborn. i support any efforts that are proven to reduce abortions.

5) Roe v Wade will not imeadiately end abortions, but is a very improtant step in ending them

Paul Hughes said...

More coments:
6) I agree that rebublicans in general seem to have an elevated interest in abortion at election time. Two major events happened during the Bush years. There was a partial-birth abortion ban in 2003 that was passed. Also, the supreme court nominees. Nick, you commented in our conversation that you felt even though the two appointed judges were pro-life, they were too right-winged in your opinion. Obama would put judges in place that were more in the middle. When I pressed you about your definition of right wing judges, you talked about tax policy, views on war, and social programs helping the poor. Judges have no say creating policies in any of these areas. The judge issue is black and white - Obama will only choose judges that he believes will hold up the decision of Roe v. Wade, regardless of what Obama feels is "middle". The current anticipated vote if Roe v. Wade was challenged is 5 to 4 in favor of killing babies. Had Bush not been in office, the judges with little doubt that would have been picked would have slid the vote back to 7 to 2, which is what it was initialy in 1973. Nick, you should be at minimum satisfied with your choice in Bush based on the two judges he put in. Even if you feel they as individuals are not balanced, at the very least you could agree that the court as a whole is more balanced.

Paul Hughes said...

more comments:
7) You explained why you are not a one issue voter by citing several other issues that are important to you in the decision making process. "the environment, war/peace, poverty, the economy, health care". As you already know, I am a one issue voter. Here is my logic, and of course, part of my frustration in this debate. If we can agree that a baby inside the mom is equal to a baby outside the mom - then an abortion is a murder, or, if that term is not comfortable enough, a violation of God's command "Thou shall not kill." If a baby inside does not equal a baby on the outside, then the rest of my logic is not valid (but lets assume they are). Then we are killing babies at a rate of 3000 (most conservative number I could find via planned parenthood) a day in America. Stack any issue aggainst it and the level of bloodshed that cries out to God for these babies deaths do not equal. Stack all issues against it in America and the number of lives lost daily from war, poverty and other preventable acts still does not stack up. We can shift the debate to poverty on a global scale which encompasses 30,000 childeren per day dieing of starvation and lack of water. Include war, which is hard to quantify deaths as it is not as a constant number like starvation and abortion, but the total since WW2 (1945) is 83 million world wide ~3600 per day. Total human loss between war and starving chideren to be 33,600. I have not included adults that die from starvation, I could not quickly find these numbers, but lets bump our total up to 70,000 to be fair. These numbers are stagering and nothing to joke about - I am not at all dismissing these issues, or suggesting that we not care about these issues. Using these numbers it is easy to see why our church body is dividing on fighting abortion in politics vs. fighting social issues in politics. It sucks we have only two major party choices, and one is against abortion, one is in favor of it. The party in favor of abortion is also more suportive of other social programs that we as christians are likely to suport - helping feed the hungry in America and in the world, fighting for peace in the world. It has created a Christian Right and a Christian Left. Nick, I know you are well studied on both sides, and have decided to not be a one issue voter. I can see yours and other's in the Christian Left's logic, but there is a number missing in the above statistics. You have helped me move beyond thinking primarily about the social injustices in American and think world wide. The missing number is abortions per day worldwide. I have never until this past Saturday considered this number, and I know you had not either. I looked it up. 115,000 babies are killed each day world wide. All blood of the innocent (abortions, war victims, the hugry) cries out to God. I will accept your equation that you gave me when I asked you "does an abortion equal a murder." You hesitated, but then agreed it did if we could include a child dieing from starvation in a world that has enough food to feed him.
This is a crude formula, but God has wired me to think and see the world in numbers. Others see the world in colors, music other......I am wired for numbers. Also there is no one more defenseless than an unborn child.

Paul Hughes said...

115,000 abortions per day worldwide

As I have franticaly searched for the views of the Christian left over the last few days, I honestly could not find anyone fighting for the cause of world wide abortion. It is a very challenging cause. To be fair, the Christian right is not either - they are in America.

Paul Hughes said...

Summary (why am I so reved up?)

1) I have heard that if the church would stand together, we would hold the deciding power in the elections. I did not grasp that until a few days ago. I was aware of the movement to bring social issues to a higher level of importance (as they should be), but I did not realize that movement votes on those issues over the issue of abortion (free country).

2) Nick I did not know you held these views, so this is all new to me.

3) As I said in my last posting - It sucks we have only two major party choices, and one is against abortion, one is in favor of it. The party in favor of abortion is also more suportive of other social programs that we as christians are likely to suport - helping feed the hungry in America and in the world, fighting for peace in the world. It has created a Christian Right and a Christian Left. It has opened my eyes that the church is divided. A house divided against itself will not stand.

Paul Hughes said...

other reason for being reved up-

1) I feel that you honestly regard the status of abortions will be improved with te Democrats in control. Sad. I will celebrate with you if they are right, but I am far from convinced.

"we have the same ultimate goal, just different ways of getting there" -- a very true statement that we both agreed on in our conversation

2) this is my greatest frustration from our talk - anger that is NOT AT YOU, just the situation of having a divided church - what good is a common goal without a common strategy to get their - the church from the right and left loose the power in untiy and in numbers

Nick said...

...the situation of having a divided church - what good is a common goal without a common strategy to get their - the church from the right and left loose the power in untiy and in numbers

I'm not sure I'm with you, Paul. What we need is not an agreed upon strategy. We dont merely need a new government program or a law. We need Christians to start living their values. If every Christian who voted Republican because of the abortion issue would take in one young girl who was pregnant, offer to pay for her hospital bills, help her care for the baby after she delivers, help her with daycare as she goes to work and school etc., imagine how that would change the state of the abortion issue in the nation.

But, that doesn't happen. We are pro-life in name only. And it doesnt happen for a few reasons, but just off the top of my head (when I use "you" here Paul, it is the general you, not you personally):

1) Christians almost never rub shoulders with "people like that" (although Jesus certainly did when he was on earth).

and 2) it is much easier stick a sign in your yard, buy a bumper sticker, and cast a vote than it is to actually become the change you want to see in the world.

Here's what I want to see: How about no christians vote tomorrow? What if we, en masse, avoided the polling placed like a plague. But instead, we began to act out on our values in life changing ways. What would be the result?

In addition, my goal certainly is not to get the church to agree on a particular side (on of the things that makes both our nation and the Church great is the diversity of opinions). My goal is to encourage poepl to be the change they want to see in the world, to live the kingdom of God on earth, bringing it here as it is in heaven, as Jesus did.

Paul Hughes said...

Agreed, action outside of voitng is needed by all sides.

Helping one mother at a time is impactful and valuble. No one would disagree with that. For that one day the abortion droped by one. I am looking at the issue of the unborn lives not being seen as having the right to live. Helping individuals has been neglected by many in the church (including you and I), and to challenge to action is a good thing, but it does not bring us to the ultimate goal of bringing the unbornd to equal status.

I am stating if the church united and took on the issues one at a time (in the realm of government), think of the power it would have to impact and help the helpless. It does not have to tie itself to a party. Solve abortion, then take on peace in the world, feed the hungry.....standing together is important as a church (order of issues is as it relates to government is only my opinion). On a personal level and as a church outside of government, all important issues can be worked on at all times.

If the leaders of the religious right and left would work together in government it would be powerful..... it is not hard to figure out what happened to the republicans that had the power to do something about abortion and did not act - they have been voted out. Our public servents are suposed to represent the peoples views. If the church is divided on major issues, they will have little traction among politicians, or in changing laws.

you said - "We dont merely need a new government program or a law." Correct, but we do need a law for the unborn..........the larger the division in the church, the more difficult this will be......

I will not bash anyone from either side in the church. If someone has a passion that is biblical, and God given, great. As a church we should, at a minimum, not work to undermine it.

It is diheartening to see the ripping of Dobsen. If anyone feels passionate about ending abortion (your words earlier) I would urge you to take issue with him if he is using poor tactics. That goes for anyone against abortion who doesn't like any of his tactics... take it to task with him instead of using blogs or articles. Ripping him or his tactics is not fruitfull in any way toward ending abortion - like it or not he is the face of the movement against abortion. We are to correct our brothers in the Lord when they are wrong.

Cineaste said...

"my position on abortion: it is murder, a direct violation of God's commandment- "Thou shall not Kill". Abortion is a decision to kill an unborn child."

If someone has a different opinion about when "personhood" starts, like 20 weeks as opposed to at conception, then the last sentence above just isn't true. The knowledge of when "personhood" begins is above your pay grade.