Real Time: Abortion Declines Worldwide

A researcher from the Guttmacher Institute, along with researchers from the World Health Organization, just had a study published in The Lancet looking at abortion trends from 1995 to 2003 which showed, safe or unsafe, "women are just as likely to get an abortion in countries where it is outlawed as where it is legal" and reported on a worldwide fall abortion rates.

Logically for an abortion rate to fall either there has to be less sex (does anyone think that really happens?), an increase in births, or option “c”—fewer unintended pregnancies through an increased use of contraceptives. And option c was what the study found. Where abortion declined significantly the study attributed the drop not to increased birth rates (which are dropping in Eastern Europe) but to “a trend that corresponds with substantially increased contraceptive use in the region.”

It's clear to me then that if anti-choice forces really wanted fewer abortions in the U.S., they should be dedicated to keeping it legal. Western Europe has a ratio of 12 abortions per 1,000 women whereas in North America (which includes Canada) the ratio is 21 per 1,000. Meanwhile in places where the procedure isn't lawfully permitted, the 39 unsafe abortions per 1,000 women (in Eastern Africa) and 33 per 1,000 (in South America) testify to the fact that many women will break the law to end a pregnancy.

Smart anti-choice people may say, “I think there should be increased contraception access, but no choice of abortion.” But that’s not the bargain offered in America. Name for me one anti-abortion group that spends a significant amount of time lobbying for an increase in contraception and sex education. It's impossible – there aren't any.

Groups like Concerned Women For America and the Family Research Council aren’t suggesting we outlaw abortion but follow the Western European model of sex education and readily available birth control. They don’t want contraception covered by insurance. They don’t want Plan B to be available over the counter. They don’t want comprehensive sex education taught in school.

But unfortunately for them (and for women) what reduces abortions is a trade-off they aren’t willing to make – increased contraception use. Anti-choice groups must not care what the number of abortions is, as long as its greater than zero. Unfortunately what this study should prove to them is that its NEVER going to be zero, even when abortions are outlawed and women are killed for having them. The needle never drops to zero.

This piece was originally published at NewsCat.

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  • invalid-0

    The headline to this story is simply outrageous. It is not the conclusion of the study, but rather the conclusion of one ‘Beth Fredrick’ in a COMMENTARY on the study. However, her quote in the CNN/AP article has cited support from a DIFFERENT article…so the implication that somehow this study supported the headline and first few lines is simply outrageous and totally unprofessional.

    How could the AP writer could get the conclusion of this study so spectacularly wrong? I’m no conversative, but when they complain about ‘liberal media bias’ this is what they are talking about. And there is a clear anti-life agenda here, both with Beth and the writing of the AP story (who, I wouldn’t be surprised, probably know each other or at least communicated about how the study would be covered). Who can take things such extremeists say seriously?

    It is a shame that so many people who read the AP/CNN story will miss the important point: that women who live in poor areas are likely to die, not because abortion is illegal, but because of our refusal to help them gain strong healthcare technology. What a shame that an anti-life agenda is going to cloud that urgent message.

    If Beth had any moral sense in her at all she would call the AP and get the story changed.

  • invalid-0

    Rachel, you have the following QUOTED in your blog above:

    “women are just as likely to get an abortion in countries where it is outlawed as where it is legal”

    Could you tell me where in the study this quote is to be found? It is the first line of the AP story, but it isn’t quoted there.

    If you can’t find it, could you please acknowledge this and revise your conclusion?

  • invalid-0

    Smart anti-choice people may say, “I think there should be increased contraception access, but no choice of abortion.”

    There’s nothing “smart” about wanting to do away with abortion, a safe and effective medical procedure.

    You don’t eliminate the indications for a procedure by banning the actual procedure. That’s utter nonsense.


    Your comment exposing the anti-life, women’s life that is, agenda is just great. Now if we could only work on your reading comprehension.

    From the actual report (order of quotes rearranged):

  • Unsafe and safe abortions correspond in large part with illegal and legal abortions, respectively…
  • Almost half of all abortions in 2003 were unsafe (19.7 million vs. 21.9 safe)
  • Safe and unsafe abortion ratios were similar to each other (16 and 15, respectively).
  • [M]ost abortions in these settings [illegal] have high risks to a woman’s life and health.
  • In light of the…estimates presented here, prevention of unsafe abortion is an imperative public-health goal.
  • invalid-0

    …how could anyone conclude the headline of the CNN article, or the first line of the AP article, from any of the information you cited? I’m missing it.

    Also, considering that most homo sapiens killed in abortion are FEMALE the only person that is anti-life with regard to women are those who support broad abortion rights.

    The rest of us understand that you don’t need to kill in order to protect and further the dignity and rights of women.

  • invalid-0

    When you say Western Europe has just 12 abortions per 1,000 women, that is just fun with numbers. The real number to look at is how many abortions per live births. Now when we look at that we have:

    Western Europe 23 abortions per 100 live births
    Africa 17 abortions per 100 live births
    Eastern Europe a shocking 105 abortions per 100 live births

    We even need to spin worldwide abortion numbers – how sad.

  • invalid-0

    Charlie, how is preventing women from dying from botched abortions “anti-life?” Why is the ACTUAL living individual less important than the fetus? You’ll note where abortion is SAFE and LEGAL, there are little to no deaths from the procedure. Please get your facts straight.

    Please tell me what is moral about letting women die for the sake of a fetus – which is not consider a human being by scientific standards. You anti-choicers crack me up with you BS.

  • invalid-0

    And I mean with a RELIABLE source.

  • invalid-0

    The statistics I am providing are from the same report only looking at a different table – the one that really makes the most sense. The study was published at the study in question is:

    Induced abortion: estimated rates and trends worldwide
    Gilda Sedgh, Stanley Henshaw, Susheela Singh, Elisabeth Åhman, Iqbal H Shah
    The Lancet – Vol. 370, Issue 9595, 13 October 2007, Pages 1338-1345

    If you get the report, look for table 3.

    Table 3. Global, regional, and subregional estimated abortion ratios and percentages of pregnancies that ended in abortion, 2003

    Here is a direct quote from the report:

    “The abortion ratios in developing countries tended to be lower than those in developed countries, even though the rates were comparable or higher in developing countries, largely because birth rates were higher in developing countries.”

    Hey more abortions per 1,000 women in developing countries because people in developing countries are having more babies. However, people in developed countries abort their pregnancies more often.

    People who spin don’t expect others to verify. Thanks for asking.