LifeNews, Wendy Wright Skew Facts on Guttmacher Abortion Rate Report


LifeNews.com and Concerned Women for America’s Wendy Wright have an unconventional — you might say wildly inaccurate — take on the Guttmacher Institute’s recent report on the rate of abortion nationwide.

Wright’s comments and LifeNews’ reporting on the report are so riddled with distortion that I’d like to go through the article line by line to correct the record.

Claim: "New Study Shows More Contraception, Birth Control Don’t Reduce Abortion" (the headline)

Reality: The Guttmacher study was investigating the abortion rate — by age, state, race, number of previous abortions, number of previous births, and other demographic factors.  Any claims LifeNews.com wants to make about contraception and its role in reducing unintended pregnancy are its own conclusions.

Claim: "AGI,
the research arm of Planned Parenthood, released
a new report
showing that abortions are done at higher rates on
black, poor, and older women." 

Reality: Okay, that’s a more accurate characterization of the report — but the Guttmacher Insitute is not the research arm of Planned Parenthood.  Guttmacher was founded as a "semi-autonomous division of Planned Parenthood" in 1968 and became an independent non-profit in 1977. Guttmacher is widely known to be non-partisan; its research is respected by both those who oppose and support legal abortion.

Claim: "[The report] shows that young women who are in college or slightly
older or younger obtain the highest number of abortions.Wright
contends this is a group of people who have the easiest access to
contraception and the most knowledge about birth control because they
grew up in a culture where it has been prevalent. ‘The
majority of women who are having abortions are those in their twenties,’
Wright told OneNewsNow. ‘These are college career women. These
are not women who lack access to contraception or lack knowledge of
contraception.’"

Reality: Wright’s contention that women in college have the easiest access to and greatest knowledge of contraception, but account for the majority of abortions provided, is all the evidence the piece marshals for its headline. Women in their twenties do have the highest abortion rate.  But the past three decades has seen a substantial drop in the abortion rate among both teens and women aged 20-24. The proportion of abortions obtained by women aged 20-24 hasn’t dropped but the proportion of abortions sought by women younger than 20 has dropped by a third. This drop started long before abstinence-only policies did.

Claim: "Statistics
from other nations appear to back up Wright’s claim that the Barack
Obama-Planned Parenthood pro-birth control approach to reduce abortions
hasn’t worked."

Reality: We don’t need to look overseas to examine whether access to contraception affects the rate of abortion. Guttmacher has well-documented the links between readily available contraception, unintended pregnancy, and abortion. Guttmacher’s Larry Finer has written for RH Reality Check, "Of almost 43 million U.S. women at
risk of unintended pregnancy, the 11% not using contraceptives account for
almost half of all abortions." A separate Guttmacher study found: 

Publicly
funded family planning clinics provide contraceptive services to approximately
seven million women each year. Without these services, the annual number of
unintended pregnancies and abortions in the United States would be almost 50%
higher. In other words, 1.4 million unintended pregnancies and 600,000
abortions are averted each year because of these services, according to a new Guttmacher Institute analysis.


But we can do an international comparison, too!  Yet another Guttmacher report on the rate of abortion worldwide found that "The lowest abortion rate in the world in 2003 was for Western Europe
(12 per 1,000 women aged 15–44), where contraceptive services and use
are widespread and safe abortion is easily accessible and legal under
broad grounds."

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  • amanda-marcotte

    Claim: "New Study Shows More Contraception, Birth Control Don’t Reduce Abortion" 

     

    That’s actually a conclusion the researchers reject outright.  My interview with Larry Finer from Guttmacher confirms this—the decline in the abortion rate over the 30 years is mostly due to improved contraception use, especially in teenagers.

     

    I like how they say "performed on women", as if the women in question just woke up one day to finding someone performing an abortion on them.  Anti-choicers continue to characterize women as brainless wombs on legs, with no agency of their own.

  • emily-douglas

    I noticed that “performed on women” too! I decided to let their questionable rhetoric go in favor of debunking the facts. But I agree completely — it’s like they think doctors perform abortions for fun.

  • http://www.LifeNews.com invalid-0

    Talk about getting your facts wrong, Douglas can’t even get the name of the publication right. It’s LifeNews.com. If you can’t get the name of your opponent right, I’m not sure what reason there is to listen to the rest of the rhetoric…

  • scott-swenson

    You know all the anti-choice sites just repeat each other’s talking points and it all blends together after a while. So now that we corrected that minor detail Steve, how about you go back and rewrite your story with the actual facts?


    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • emily-douglas

    My apologies, Steven. We’ve corrected the name of the site.

  • http://www.LifeNews.com invalid-0

    Thank you for the correction (which appeared to me at about 5:59 PM EST).

  • http://www.LifeNews.com/stevenertelt.html invalid-0

    I’m happy to respond to Douglas’ “facts:”

    Claim: “The Guttmacher Insitute [sic] is not the research arm of Planned Parenthood.”

    Fact: AGI’s own web site acknowledges that its founder “Guttmacher was president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and a leader in the International Planned Parenthood Federation in the 1960s and early 1970s.” Its association with Planned Parenthood is long-standing and I doubt any pro-life advocates are currently in its employ. AGI has consistently advocated for legal abortions since its inception.

    Claim: “Wright’s contention that women in college have the easiest access to and greatest knowledge of contraception, but account for the majority of abortions provided, is all the evidence the piece marshals for its headline … The proportion of abortions obtained by women aged 20-24 hasn’t dropped.”

    Fact: Douglas doesn’t dispute that college students are the most informed about contraception and birth control and then admits that the rate on abortions among college women hasn’t dropped. That essentially proves Wright’s thesis.

    Claim: [Citing LifeNews.com] “Statistics from other nations appear to back up Wright’s claim that the Barack Obama-Planned Parenthood pro-birth control approach to reduce abortions hasn’t worked.” [Douglas here] “We don’t need to look overseas to examine whether access to contraception affects the rate of abortion.”

    Fact: Douglas is the one ignoring the facts here! While the morning after pill has been highly touted in both Scotland and Sweden — including the allowance of OTC and other easier access to the drugs — the numbers from their own government (not pro-life stats) show abortions increasing. That was part of the evidence in the LifeNews.com article proving Wright’s point and Douglas simply glosses over it.

    Claim: Western European nations with the most access to contraception and birth control account for the lowest abortion rates.

    Fact: Douglas ignores the fact that those nations actually have much more limited abortion laws than in the US. The legal abortion period is 10 weeks in France, Greece, Denmark, Norway and Portugal and 12 weeks in Germany, Belgium and Austria. Were Congress to propose a law limiting abortions to these time limits, I’m sure Douglas and abortion advocates would strenuously oppose it. Yet, she lifts up those laws as the models here.

  • http://www.prolifewyoming.com/stevenertelt.html invalid-0

    Actually, the phrase “performed on women” never appears in the article.

    But if you’re going to condemn the terminology, be consistent. What about abortion advocate Jill Filipovic who uses the term of the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jill-filipovic/terminating-womens-right_b_46332.html)?

    Even the ACLU calls abortion “the most common surgery performed on women” (http://www.aclupa.org/education/clarabellduvallreproductiv/duvallprojectresourcespubl/shortageofphysicians.htm).

    NARAL uses the phrase too (http://www.prochoiceminnesota.org/apep/).

    I guess it’s easier to just attack pro-life advocates…

  • invalid-0

    My response to Ms Wright’s interpretation of the report is…so what?