Guttmacher Report Cites Increases in Contraceptive Use, Reductions in Unintended Pregnancies and Abortions…and More Work To Do


Guttmacher Report Finds Increase in Contraceptive Use, Decline in Unintended Pregnancies and Abortion Worldwide

More women and men have access to and are using contraception throughout the world, reports the Guttmacher Institute, contributing to a decrease in the number of unintended pregnancies and, in turn, a decline in the number of abortions, from 45.5 million procedures in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003.

The
greatest progress was made in "developed" or higher income countries,
though positive trends in contraceptive use and reductions in
unintended pregnancy also are evident throughout Asia and Latin
America. 
"Within the developing world," according to Guttmacher, "improvement varied widely, with Africa lagging behind other regions."

Worldwide, according to the report, "The
proportion of married women
using contraception increased from 54 percent in 1990 to 63 percent in
2003," said Guttmacher.  These findings include increases in the use
of contraceptive methods among sexually active single women.

Greater use of contraceptives has resulted in fewer unintended pregnancies.  The rate of unintended pregnancy declined roughly 21 percent, from 69 unintended pregnancies per 1,000 women ages
15 to 44 in 1995 to 55 per 1,000 in 2008.  

However, the research revealed great variation in progress by region.  

While 71 percent of
married women in Latin American and the Caribbean were using
contraceptives in 2003, only 28 percent of married African women were doing
so. Nearly one in four married women in Africa had an unmet need for
contraception in 2002–2007, compared with 10–13 percent of their counterparts
in Asia and in Latin America and the Caribbean.

According to the report, declines in the rates of abortions have paralleled a general trend toward liberalization of laws regulating access to abortion care:

Nineteen countries have significantly reduced restrictions in their abortion laws since 1997, while only three countries have substantially increased legal restrictions. Despite these trends, 40% of the world’s women live in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws, virtually all of them in the developing world. In Africa, 92% of reproductive-age women live under highly restrictive abortion laws, and in Latin America, 97% do so. These proportions have not changed markedly over the past decade.

The United States and a few other countries, such as
the Dominican Republic, are notable exceptions to the trend toward liberalization of such laws.  Anti-choice groups in the US continue their efforts to outlaw both contraception and abortion, and the Dominican Republic, for example, recently passed a total ban on abortions.

As has been long known, the abortion rate in any given country is not related to its legal status.  In short, women continue to seek ways to end unintended pregnancy whether or not abortions are legal.  The Guttmacher report states that:

While the incidence of abortion is closely related to that of unintended pregnancy, it does not correlate with abortion’s legal status. Indeed, abortion occurs at roughly equal rates in regions where it is broadly legal and in regions where it is highly restricted.

The key difference, as Guttmacher notes, is safety—illegal, clandestine abortions remain the leading cause of illness and death among women ages 15 to 49 in many countries worldwide, and most particuarly in poorer countries and/or those countries where women’s status is low and access to reproductive and sexual health services is limited.

The report details progress and challenges, while also making recommendations for building on these gains. 

“The progress made during the past decade in increasing contraceptive use and reducing the need for abortion is fundamentally good news—the world is moving in the right direction,” says Sharon Camp, president and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute. “And yet, we still have two widely disparate realities. In almost all developed countries, abortion is safe and legal. But in much of the developing world, abortion remains highly restricted, and unsafe abortion is common and continues to damage women’s health and threaten their survival.”

Unsafe abortion causes an estimated 70,000 deaths each year, and an additional five million women are treated annually for complications resulting from unsafe abortion. Approximately three million women who experience serious complications from unsafe procedures go untreated.


“The evidence is strong and growing that empowering women with the means to decide for themselves when to become pregnant and how many children to have significantly lowers unintended pregnancy rates and thereby reduces the need for abortion,” adds Dr. Camp.

“Addressing the unmet need for contraception, which remains very high in many parts of world, is critical in promoting the well-being of women and their families. This is especially true in those parts of the developing world where modern contraceptive use is still low and mortality related to clandestine and unsafe abortion is high.”


Guttmacher makes three key recommendations:
·       Expand access to modern contraceptives and improve family planning services.
·       Expand access to legal abortion and ensure that safe and legal abortion services are available to women in need.
·       Improve the coverage and quality of postabortion care, which would reduce maternal death and complications from unsafe abortion.

“The gains we’ve seen are modest in relation to what we can achieve. Investing in family planning is essential—far too many women lack access to contraception, putting them at risk,” notes Dr. Camp. “Legal restrictions do not stop abortion from happening, they just make the procedure dangerous. Too many women are maimed or killed each year because they lack legal abortion access.”

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Follow Jodi Jacobson on twitter: @jljacobson

  • religiousinstitute

    In addition to expanding access to modern contraceptives, legal abortion, and postabortion care, the Religious Institute would like to see the role of religious leaders advocating for these services to increase.

    As social, moral and ethical guides in their communities, religious leaders need to advocate for the rights of the 70,000 women who die each year because of illegal, unsafe abortions. To read more about the Religious Institute’s reaction, read our Executive Director, Rev. Debra Haffner’s blog at: http://www.religiousinstitute.org/sexuality-and-religion.

  • paul-bradford

    Jodi,

     

    Thank you for opening this thread!  I just got done reading the report and I’m eager to talk about it. 

     

    Don’t overlook this report.  It really is a big deal.  Guttmacher provides the most accurate statistics on pregnancy, abortion, contraception, wanted v unwanted births and legal status.  A report this comprehensive comes around once a decade.

     

    Be aware, however, that Jodi makes an observation that doesn’t appear in the report, and that has to do with the United States.  Jodi writes:

     

    The United States and a few other countries, such as the Dominican Republic, are notable exceptions to the trend toward liberalization of [abortion] laws.  

     

    Guttmacher doesn’t single out the US.  The countries they single out as having become more restrictive about abortion access are El Salvador, Nicaragua and Poland.  From Chapter 2:

     

    Since 1997, three countries have made their abortion laws more restrictive. El Salvador and Nicaragua amended their penal codes to eliminate all exceptions to the prohibition of abortion. Under the previous law, abortion was permitted in El Salvador to save a woman’s life, and in cases of rape or fetal impairment; in Nicaragua, it was allowed for therapeutic purposes after the approval of three physicians. In 1997, Poland withdrew socioeconomic reasons as a legal ground

     

    Also in Chapter 2 is a discussion about how to advocate for liberalized access to abortion.  They review the ‘lessons’ learned in five countries that have reduced restriction to abortion.  Obviously, Guttmacher isn’t shy about engaging in boosterism for the Pro-Choice cause.  They also never take seriously the claim that the unborn have human rights.  Their statistics are phenomenally good, but if you read the report you need to be prepared for comments like this one from Chapter 4:

     

    Most safe abortions today are performed using MVA. However, use of medication abortion—generally involving mifepristone (RU 486), misoprostol, or both—is growing.

     

    Application of these drugs, often in combination, leads to the expulsion of the products of pregnancy; the result is very much like a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage)

     

    Products of pregnancy?!?!?!?!?!?!?! They’re almost begging Pro-Lifers to disregard what they have to say.  This is too bad because they have very good information.

     

    One of the things they demonstrate, which I’ve been aware of for decades is the fact that restricting legal access to abortion doesn’t actually drive the abortion rate down.  From Chapter 3:

     

    The fact that the abortion rate in the less developed world, where the procedure is legally restricted in many countries, is quite similar to that in the more developed world, where abortion is largely permitted on broad grounds in almost all countries, confirms the lack of an inherent relationship between the prevalence of abortion and its legal status.

     

    Here Guttmacher understates its case. The abortion rate in less developed countries is 29.0 abortions per 1000 women of childbearing age. The abortion rate in more developed countries is 26.0 (The abortion rate in the US for the basis year, 2003, was 20.2. The rate in Western Europe was 12.0).  If you’re Pro-Life, and if you care about the well-being of the unborn, don’t be taken in by people who’ll sap your energy in an attempt to restrict access.  It doesn’t do any good!  There are bettter ways to bring down the rate of abortion.  Look at how much better things are in Western Europe than they are in the US — all the countries involved have liberal abortion laws, so there’s got to be other factors involved.

     

    One way to drive the abortion rate down is to support Universal Health Care.  Another is too support comprehensive sex education and access to modern forms of contraception.  Another way to drive the abortion rate down is to work to change attitudes.  The report demonstrates how different attitudes are here and in Canada than they are in Eastern Europe.  From Chapter 7:

     

    The unintended pregnancy rate in North America was similar to that in Eastern Europe (48 and 47 per 1,000 women, respectively), but it was higher in these two regions than in the rest of Europe (31 per 1,000). Women with unintended pregnancies in North America were far less likely than their Eastern European counterparts to have had an abortion (38% vs. 80%), and much more likely to have had an unplanned birth (48% vs. 10%;) The proportion of unintended pregnancies that ended in unplanned births was also somewhat higher in North America than in the rest of Europe (48% vs. 42%).

     

    Attitudes matter. The attitude in the US and Canada is that the unborn count for something. In situations where a pregnancy is unplanned, women in North America are far more likely to redirect their lives and have the baby than they are to get an abortion. In Eastern Europe, women are eight times more likely to have an abortion. What’s the difference? It isn’t laws – it’s attitudes.

     

    I loved reading this report because it makes my case for me, but the stuff they write that doesn’t have to do with statistics is frighteningly biased.  Chapter 5 has this to say about stigma:

     

    In many parts of the world, fear of being discovered breaking the law often drives women to keep their abortions secret. But another common cultural phenomenon—the social stigma attached to those who have clandestine abortions or require care for the treatment of post-abortion complications—can also encourage a woman to choose secrecy over her own safety. The shaming and blaming of women who seek or have abortions seems to occur in many societies.

     

    In Cameroon, a woman who has had an abortion may be accused of promiscuity and forced to leave her village. Young women in this situation may be expelled from school, or they may leave on their own to avoid public shaming. In some communities, women publicly sing songs mocking and ridiculing by name a woman who has had an abortion. .

     

    In Guatemala, neighbors might gossip maliciously about women known to have had an abortion, or ostracize them; men tend to be more censuring, insulting and caustic than women. Women attempting to end an unwanted pregnancy might also be condemned by the very health providers to whom they turn for help. Social stigma of this type stems in part from deep-seated traditional values that allow no other role for women than that of mother; those who have an abortion are not conforming to their expected role. Even a woman who has a miscarriage is blamed for not having been sufficiently “careful” about her pregnancy. Similar attitudes have also been found in a rural community in Mexico.

     

    Schoolboys in urban Zambia believe that girls who have had an abortion are capable of “infecting” others. In the Philippines, where the influence of the Catholic Church is strong, women who have terminated an unintended pregnancy not only face social stigma, but also in some cases become guilt-ridden and fixated on doing penance for their perceived “sin.”

     

    In Ghana, abortion is traditionally perceived as a shameful act, and the community may shun a woman who has had an abortion and give her and her family a derogatory name.

     

    Adolescents and unmarried women may experience double stigmatization. They are condemned for being pregnant outside of marriage in the first place; then, if they end the pregnancy, they are condemned again. Even in cases of rape or incest, young women are often stigmatized if they seek to end the pregnancy

     

    The practitioners of abortion may also be stigmatized.  In some countries, they may be targeted and threatened by antiabortion groups, shunned by their professional peers and even excommunicated by the Catholic Church.

     

    Five women co-authored the report, but I didn’t notice ahunt’s name.  Clearly, though, she was there in spirit.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • frolicnaked

    In Eastern Europe, women are eight times more likely to have an
    abortion. What’s the difference? It isn’t laws – it’s attitudes.

    Actually, Paul, if what I heard this morning — a radio news report of this study (for which I can try to find the transcript if you like) — talked about the previous abortion rate in Eastern Europe. One of the realities there was that, for a long time, abortion was legal and accessible, but there wasn’t similar meaningful access to modern contraceptives. That’s a substantial factor that really shouldn’t be overlooked when making these comparisons. 

    the stuff they write that doesn’t have to do with statistics is frighteningly biased.

    I’m also not sure what you’re getting at here. Many of the examples of stigma they give — accusing women of promiscuity, shaming, expelling from school, blaming women for miscarriage, targeting or threatening abortion providers — are all ones I’ve seen inside the United States.

  • paul-bradford

    frolicnaked,

     

    Thanks for responding.  I hope you read the report as it is worth your time.

     

    One of the realities there was that, for a long time, abortion was legal and accessible, but there wasn’t similar meaningful access to modern contraceptives.

     

    You’re absolutely right, and it’s in the report.  Twenty years ago and before, the Eastern European countries had an unintended pregnancy rate that was far higher than the one we have in North America.  And, as you point out, there was an ‘unmet need’ (this is the phrase Guttmacher uses) for contraception.  Since relations between the East and West have normalized, the women in the East have been able to access contraception as easily as women in the West.  These days, the unintended pregnancy rate is the same in Eastern Europe as it is in the North America — which is what you’d expect with both regions providing excellent access.

     

    The difference is entirely in the way women respond when they learn they are carrying an unintended pregnancy.  The majority of women in the US and Canada elect to bring their child to term whereas only a tiny, tiny minority in Eastern Europe go full term.  Pro-Lifers here have done a good job of persuading women that the ethical response to an unintended pregnancy is to allow the child to develop.  There isn’t much of a Pro-Life tradition in Eastern Europe.  Even in Poland, where abortion is illegal, anti-abortion sentiment isn’t as strong as it is here. 

     

    I’m also not sure what you’re getting at here.

     

    I’ll tell you exactly what I’m getting at.  People on the Pro-Life side have been very effective, over the past thirty-five years, in their efforts to advocate for the unborn.  Women facing an unintended pregnancy today are much more likely to choose life than the women in their mother’s generation were. 

     

    In 1977, 66% of all pregnancies carried by unmarried women ended in abortion.  Today, that number is down to 39%.  Today’s women are exercising choice — and, more and more, they’re choosing life.  Pro-Lifers can point with pride to the fact that they’ve done an excellent job in persuading people to respect life at all ages.  Adversaries of the Pro-Life movement are working hard to characterize these effectively persuasive methods as ‘coercive’, ‘shame based’, ‘stigmatizing’, ‘misleading’, ‘manipulative’ and so on.

     

    If you’re interested in discrediting the Pro-Life movement, attack it where it’s being most successful — in the P.R. war.  Here in America we cherish our tradition of liberality and honesty.  The better job you do at painting Pro-Lifers as a bunch of finger wagging yokels using third world behavioral techniques, the less likely people will be to listen to their testimony on behalf of the very young. 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • frolicnaked

    … before my pizza burns in the oven.

     

    1) In the U.S., at least, we’ve also done a good job at making abortion less accessible to people, whether through laws, geography, or financial cost.

     

    2) Having personally been called a "whore" for having premarital sex as well as a "stupid" person who "got what [I] deserved" for experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, I’d call those "shame based" indeed.

  • paul-bradford

    frolicnaked,

     

    1) Our abortion rate has dropped from 29.4 per 1000 in 1980 to 19.4 in 2005.  That’s a huge drop!  It represents more than half a million women.  Do you think that there are more than a half million women each year who want an abortion, are denied access, and end up having a child?  You’ve got to think that SOME of those women are acting out of free will.

     

    2) It’s awful that you were called a "whore" or "stupid" and it’s awful that people framed pregnancy in terms of punishment.  That’s abuse.  What’s more — and you can tell me if I’m right about this — name calling didn’t increase your respect for the unborn.

     

    If peace is the desired goal, peace must be the means to that end. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • frolicnaked

    1) Certainly I think that some of the women who’ve chosen to continue unplanned pregnancies to term are acting out of free will. Whether it’s enough to account entirely for the discrepancy between abortion rates in North America and abortion rates in Eastern Europe… I think that’s a pretty big stretch.

     

    2) My point with giving those examples is that they happen. They happen in societies where women have comparatively a lot of choice and face fewer extreme social stigmas than they do in some other countries. It’s not biased to report on events and attitudes that actually occur. 

  • crowepps

    I loved reading this report because it makes my case for me, but the stuff they write that doesn’t have to do with statistics is frighteningly biased. Chapter 5 has this to say about stigma:

    In many parts of the world, fear of being discovered breaking the law often drives women to keep their abortions secret. But another common cultural phenomenon—the social stigma attached to those who have clandestine abortions or require care for the treatment of post-abortion complications—can also encourage a woman to choose secrecy over her own safety. The shaming and blaming of women who seek or have abortions seems to occur in many societies.

    Are you asserting that being accused of promiscuity and forced to leave the village, being expelled from school, public shaming, mocking and ridiculing by name a woman who has had an abortion, gossiping maliciously, ostracizing, censuring, insulting, excommunicating, etc. are NOT ‘shaming and blaming’?

    Or are you asserting that the assumption that ‘shaming and blaming’ is a bad thing is biased?

  • colleen

    A third alternative is that Paul feels shaming, blaming and stigmatizing women who have had abortions is a normal human social reaction.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • faultroy

      Actually you are correct in stating that shaming, blaming and stigmatizing women who have had abortions is a normal human Social reaction. That is exactly what it is.  And it is predicated on that specific society’s social norms and values.  Prior to the "I Have My Constitutional Rights Movement " our society regulated our social norms, customs and values by parents and the individual’s personal social group. Peer pressure took the place of government programs and advocacy.  It is a lot more effective and a lot cheaper.  As far as your comment about the Anti Abortion Movement and the Taliban, please note that Middle East feminist advocacy groups consider American Feminists akin to Female Vampires.  They consistently inform them that they do not need nor welcome any support from Westernized Feminists. Not only do they do more harm than good, but they get in the way of these women’s ability to make  meaningful changes within their respective societies.  It must be understood that regardless of the society in question, it is made up of both men and women.  Regardless as to what you think, both men and women decide on what that specific society’s cultural norms and values are.  Not all foreign feminists want or even desire all the freedoms that western women have.  Most middle east feminists literally hate American women and consider them sluts, poor mothers and generally unworthy of even being considered women–isn’t that incredibly fascinating in that these poor women that are considered second class citizens perceive themselves to be morally superior to westernized women? The main reason the West in general has been so spectacularly unsuccessful in countries like Iraq, Iran, Afganistan and Pakistan is because of what they believe is our morally degraded culture and particularly its women and children–and of course they blame it all on lack of male control.  Therefore they have even more contempt for American Men than they do Westernized women.  They cannot understand why we don’t stone these arrogant females or just douse them with gasoline and make a pyric example of them.  The point is that it is all in the cultural norms and values of the society being discussed.

  • crowepps

    our society regulated our social norms, customs and values by parents and the individual’s personal social group. Peer pressure took the place of government programs and advocacy. It is a lot more effective and a lot cheaper.

    Of course this is still true — it’s just that the standards of most of those peers have changed so that it’s accepted that women are independent people who can’t just be sorted by their relationship to their male ‘owner’. The problem for adamently anti-birth-control, anti-all-abortion groups is that they are such a small percentage of the population that their opinions have little influence. In order to impact the larger population, they must enlist the government as their enforcement arm. They absolutely cannot tolerate other people discarding the traditional patriarchal role models and heirarchal systems which they believe are ‘ordained’ because the mere existence of the rest of that culture allows their children to escape, as most of their children choose to do.

  • crowepps

    Our abortion rate has dropped from 29.4 per 1000 in 1980 to 19.4 in 2005. That’s a huge drop! It represents more than half a million women. Do you think that there are more than a half million women each year who want an abortion, are denied access, and end up having a child? You’ve got to think that SOME of those women are acting out of free will.

    The birth rate in the United States was 24.1 in 1980 and 14 in 2005. If the difference in the abortion rate represented women who were denied access to or chose not to have abortions, the birth rate would have gone up, not down. It’s far more likely that the reason the abortion rate dropped was better use of contraceptives and that those half a million women never got pregnant in the first place.

  • colleen

    Actually you are correct in stating that shaming, blaming and stigmatizing women who have had abortions is a normal human Social reaction. That is exactly what it is.

    Please reread what I said. I was suggesting that Paul (and other social conservatives) feel this way, not that such a reaction is in any way ‘normal’. I suppose it’s ‘normal’ in cultures in which women have limited status and are raised to think of themselves as some sort of livestock owned by their fathers and, in turn, their husbands.

    Despite a couple of decades of effort and denial from social conservatives, Republicans and advocates of theocracy (but I repeat myself) it is not ‘normal’ to do so in the wider US culture. You can tell because most people view the folks who stand outside of clinics screaming at the women who enter or folks who clumsily troll on blogs because they need an outlet for their hatred as deranged and hateful wing nuts.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • paul-bradford

    The birth rate in the United States was 24.1 in 1980 and 14 in 2005.

     

    crowepps,

     

    The ideal birthrate is about 65-70 births per thousand women of childbearing age.  If the birthrate is higher (it was a whopping 120.9 in 1957) you’re overpopulating, if it’s lower you’re heading toward depopulation.  A birthrate of 24.1 or 14 would be impossibly low!

     

    The actual birthrate in 1980 was 68.4 (obviously, very good) and the birthrate in 2005 was 66.7 (also very good.)  Interestingly, from 1973-2006 we’ve had a birthrate in the 65-70 range in 31 years out of 34 (It was 70.9 in 1990, 64.4 in ’96 and 64.8 in ’02).  It would not be out of line to claim that Roe solved our nation’s overpopulation problem.

     

    And you wonder why I say that EVERYONE (even right wing religious wackos like me) gains from liberal abortion laws.

     

    As to your point — I certainly agree that 500,000 fewer women are getting pregnant but you can’t possibly believe that all of them were women who would have responded to an unwanted pregnancy by getting an abortion.  Those 500,000 unidentified women would have to include both those who believe that abortion can be justified and those who believe that it can not.

     

    The actual percentage of pregnant women choosing abortion (which is unrelated to the pregnancy rate) has dropped from 30.3% in 1981 to 22.6% in 2005.  Why are you so resistant to the idea that attitudes have changed from what they were a generation ago? 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    Guttmacher wasn’t interested in looking at any effective interventions to lower the abortion rate — they only described ineffective, dehumanizing interventions.

     

    The only way to protect the unborn is by IMPROVING the status of women.  Guttmacher has no interest in protecting the unborn, so it stands to reason that they would spotlight situations where the status of women is depressingly, even hopelessly poor.

     

    If you can’t envision a society that is supportive of women and girls who have unwanted pregnancies then the best you can offer women is an abortion.

     

    That’s what I don’t like about Guttmacher’s worldview.  It’s pessimistic and hopeless. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • frolicnaked

    Guttmacher wasn’t interested in looking at any effective interventions
    to lower the abortion rate — they only described ineffective,
    dehumanizing interventions.

    Given that one main facet of the Guttmacher report was to discuss the increased availability and use of contraceptives — an effective and empowering intervention — I feel like this comment is pretty disingenuous.

  • crowepps

    Why are you so resistant to the idea that attitudes have changed from what they were a generation ago?

    Why are you so resistant to the idea that the efficacy and use of contraceptives has improved in the last generation?

  • crowepps

    think you misunderstood Paul’s point: contraception is exactly what he means by “ineffective, dehumanizing interventions”. Instead, he believes people considering having sex are supposed to ‘grimly’ consider that the momentary pleasure of sex probably isn’t worth being stuck with kids they don’t want and instead stay celibate for the rest of their lives.

  • paul-bradford

    contraceptives — an effective and empowering intervention

     

    frolicnaked,

     

    I stand corrected.  Guttmacher supports contraception.  I support contraception.  Contraception lowers the abortion rate.  Contraception saves lives.

     

    I ought to have said that Guttmacher isn’t interested in looking at interventions to lower the abortion rate among pregnant women.  We agree that unwanted pregnancies should be avoided.  Where we disagree is that I think care should be taken to protect the developing fetus in the event of an unintended pregnancy — this isn’t a concern for Guttmacher. 

     

    I feel like this comment is pretty disingenuous.

     

    Did it even occur to you that, instead of being disingenuous, I simply said something the wrong way?

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    You are confusing the “general fertility rate” and the “birth rate”.

    Birth Rate (or crude birth rate) The number of live births per 1,000 population in a given year. Not to be confused with the growth rate.

    General Fertility Rate The number of live births per 1,000 women ages 15-44 or 15-49 years in a given year.

    Neither of these measures have much to do with “replacement fertility rate” which is a measure of how many children a woman has in her LIFETIME, not annually.

    Results—In 2006, births and fertility rates increased for most states, age groups, and race and Hispanic origin groups. A total of 4,265,555 births were registered in the United States in 2006, 3 percent more than in 2005, and the largest number of births in more than four decades. The crude birth rate was 14.2, up slightly from the previous year; the general fertility rate was 68.5, up 3 percent. Birth rates increased for women in nearly all age groups, with the largest increases for teenagers and for women aged 20–24 and 40–44 years. Teenage childbearing increased, interrupting the 14-year decline from 1991– 2005. The mean age at first birth for U.S. women was down in 2006, to 25.0 years. The total fertility rate increased to 2,100.5 births per 1,000 women. All measures of unmarried childbearing reached record levels in 2006. Women were less likely to receive timely prenatal care in 2006. The cesarean delivery rate climbed to 31.1 percent, another all-time high. Preterm and low birthweight rates continued to rise; the twin birth rate was unchanged for the second consecutive year; the rate of triplet and higher order multiple births declined 5 percent.
    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr57/nvsr57_07.pdf

  • paul-bradford

    contraception is exactly what he means by "ineffective, dehumanizing interventions".

     

    crowepps,

     

    Have you got a toothache or something?  The ‘ineffective, dehumanizing interventions’ are the attempts to shame, shun and ridicule women who seek abortion.

     

    You can’t be good to the unborn unless you can figure out a way to be good to the mothers of the unborn. 

     

    he believes people considering having sex are supposed to ‘grimly’ consider that the momentary pleasure of sex probably isn’t worth being stuck with kids they don’t want and instead stay celibate for the rest of their lives.

     

    If it were up to me, crowepps, every woman in the world would have complete control over the process of ovulation.  That way women could avoid both unintended pregnancy and menstrual discomfort. 

     

    Right now the options are grim: 1) exercise self-restraint with sex, 2) run the risk of having a kid you’re not ready, willing and able to raise or 3) run the risk of sending a fellow human being to her/his death.  I’ll be happy to admit that option #1 isn’t particularly attractive.  Just once, though, I’d like you to talk about the drawbacks of option #3.

     

    A lot of people, I’m sure you’ll agree, don’t want to think about ANY of those options.  Life comes as a complete surprise to them! 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    The denominator for the crude birth rate includes men, girls, and older women.  The population of older women has been going up as the baby boom generation matures so the crude birth rate has been going down even as the true birth, or fertility rate has remained stable.

     

    Neither of these measures have much to do with "replacement fertility rate" which is a measure of how many children a woman has in her LIFETIME, not annually.

     

    crowepps,

     

    By now I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m very happy to give you props and defer to your superior understanding when we discuss matters you know better than I do.  Please don’t think I’ll be equally deferential when we talk about things I actually understand.

     

    The number of women of reproductive age is the number of women between 15 and 44 years.  There are thirty years in there.  I suggested that the rate of 65-70 was optimal.  66.7 x 30 = 2000.0  A lifetime replacement rate of 2000 (two children per woman) means Zero Population Growth (ZPG).  You actually can infer the lifetime rate from the annual rate.

     

    Your source gave a lifetime fertility rate of 2100.5.  The only reason it’s above 2000 is because there are still some women around who were having children during the baby boom.  Those are the women in my mother’s generation.  When those good women have gone to their reward, the lifetime rate will drop to 2000 (unless we have another baby boom).

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    A lot of people, I’m sure you’ll agree, don’t want to think about ANY of those options. Life comes as a complete surprise to them!

    If you can come up with a solution to the average American state of total clueless, ignorance and lack of personal responsibility, you might get somewhere. Unfortunately, too many people are ENCOURAGING all of those things by promoting the idea that education is bad, thinking is dangerous and responsibility should be vested in the ‘heirarchy’ or ‘authority figures’ who know best.

  • crowepps

    The birth rate in the United States was 24.1 in 1980 and 14 in 2005.

     

    Paul’s response:

    The ideal birthrate is about 65-70 births per thousand women of childbearing age.  If the birthrate is higher (it was a whopping 120.9 in 1957) you’re overpopulating, if it’s lower you’re heading toward depopulation.  A birthrate of 24.1 or 14 would be impossibly low!

    Funny, but obviously "a birthrate of 14" is NOT impossibly low but instead the accurate number.  My point was that ‘birth rate" which is what I was talking about is not the same as "reproductive rate" which is where you got the number 65-70.

     

    My POINT was that there is no way of telling for sure whether the final effect of fewer abortions is because more women have ‘changed their attitude’ and are choosing to bear unwanted children or because those women are more effectively and responsibly preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

  • crowepps

    Application of these drugs, often in combination, leads to the expulsion of the products of pregnancy; the result is very much like a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage)

    Products of pregnancy?!?!?!?!?!?!?! They’re almost begging Pro-Lifers to disregard what they have to say.

    The drugs cause the expulsion of not only the fetus but also the placenta and uterine lining, all of the various ‘products of pregnancy’. This is a medical term which defines an end result, not an attempt to be coy.

    “Complete abortion: all products of conception have been passed without the need for surgical or medical intervention

    Incomplete abortion: some, but not all, of the products of conception have been passed; retained products may be part of the fetus, placenta, or membranes

    Inevitable abortion: the cervix has dilated, but the products of conception have not been expelled

    Missed abortion: a pregnancy in which there is a fetal demise (usually for a number of weeks) but no uterine activity to expel the products of conception”

    http://www.aafp.org/afp/20051001/1243.html

  • paul-bradford

    Funny, but obviously "a birthrate of 14" is NOT impossibly low but instead the accurate number.

     

    Yes.  And you must have felt that I was being totally dismissive with my ‘impossibly low’ comment when, in fact, I wasn’t even aware of the fact that we were talking about two different things.

     

    I wonder if it’s too late in the game for me to get agreement from you that the births/1000 women of childbearing age (fertility) rate is a more useful rate to consider than the births/1000 people in the total population (birth) rate. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    I wonder if it’s too late in the game for me to get agreement from you that the births/1000 women of childbearing age (fertility) rate is a more useful rate to consider than the births/1000 people in the total population (birth) rate.

    More useful? It depends on what you’re talking about. But in order to discuss either, it really helps to use the correct terminology, so that in using one set of stats to illuminate another, you ensure that your comparisons make sense. As I understand it, there are actually THREE sets of stats: birth rate (population), fertility rate (annual) and reproductive (lifetime). By the way, it’s interesting that none of these statistics are compiled for men.

  • emma

    Aren’t we lucky to have an expert on global feminisms with us? How much should I bet that faulty has never met a Middle Eastern feminist?

     

    So, faulty, you genius, you’re correct that some non-Western feminists resent the interference of Western feminists, as Western feminists have a tradition of imperialistic paternalism vis a vis women in other cultures.
    Much of the rest of what you’re saying is utter shit, though. The reasons ‘we’ have been unsuccessful in Iraq and Afghanistan is that ‘we’ have bombed the shit out of Iraqi and Afghan people, killing and displacing millions and, shockingly, the people there are kind of pissed about that. Bombing people is a lousy way of facilitating social progress.

     

    As for Iran – are you referring to the CIA’s facilitation of the overthrow of Mossadeqh and the installation of the Shah? That didn’t last because the Shah was a murderous dictator, and resentment over his brutal oppression and the West’s role in installing him facilitated support for the Islamic Revolution.

     

    And you’re an idiot if you think women in countries like Afghanistan don’t care about reproductive freedom. One in six women in Afghanistan die from pregnancy-related causes, so reproductive rights are entirely relevant to their, you know, not dying.

     

    Have you considered the possibility that your obvious loathing of women is distorting your understanding of the world (which seems pretty damned lacking, if your comments regarding intervention in the Middle East are any indication)? Are you one of those guys who thinks non-Western women are nice and submissive and don’t want too many rights, unlike those nasty Western women? If you are, you’re an exploitative racist, on top of everything else. Then again, I guess that’s not surprising, given your previously stated belief that pregnant poor women are sub-human. You need psychiatric help, sweets. It’s just not healthy to despise anyone that much.

  • paul-bradford

    Why are you so resistant to the idea that the efficacy and use of contraceptives has improved in the last generation?

     

    I certainly wouldn’t want to leave you with that impression!

     

    As I see it, there are three factors that effect the pregnancy rate for unmarried women (by pregnancy rate, I mean [births + abortions / 1000 women of childbearing age]) and four factors that effect the pregnancy rate for married women.  For unmarried women the three factors are: 1) availability, effectiveness and use of contraception 2) motivation to do what’s needed to avoid pregnancy and 3) number of incidents of coitus.  For married women we have those three factors plus the overriding factor of 4) ideal family size.

     

    Unintended pregnancy would show up as in increase in the pregnancy rate for unmarried women or an increase, over the ideal family size, of the pregnancy rate for married women.  I’m assuming that the number of unmarried women who are trying to get pregnant is small.

     

    Are you with me so far? 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • heather-corinna

    For married women we have those three factors plus the overriding factor of 4) ideal family size.

     

    Why would this only be an issue for married women?

  • paul-bradford

    By the way, it’s interesting that none of these statistics are compiled for men.

     

    crowepps,

     

    By way of disclosure, I will report to you that I spent many, many hours doing research for a major study in population growth when I was an undergraduate at MIT in 1974.  I learned then that fertility rates were always linked to female reproduction and at first I wondered about that.  

     

    After I got comfortable with the studies I realized that there would be a lot of problems with following fertility rates for men.  For one thing, men are fertile (more accurately virile) for a lot more years than women are.  For another, you can’t always be sure who has fathered a child (well, you couldn’t then — we have much better ways of establishing paternity nowadays).  

     

    Now, when I want to assess the dangers of overpopulation (or underpopulation) the rate I’m most concerned with is the birth fertility rate.  Actually, there are three fertility rates and this is where we got into semantic trouble — there is birth fertility, abortion fertility and total pregnancy fertility (birth + abortion).

     

    Do you see why the lifetime reproductive rate, in a stable population, would be thirty times times the fertility rate?  Do you see why the lifetime reproductive rate, in a population with variable population trends, would reflect an average of population trends over many years (and, in a society such as ours, which experienced both a huge baby boom and a long period of population stability would generate numbers that wouldn’t tell you anything)?  Finally, I wonder if we agree that a number that represents thirty times the birth fertility rate would indicate ZPG (Zero Population Growth) if it was close to 2000, and would indicate overpopulation if it were significantly above 2000?

     

    Actually, that 2000 number has to be modified by the pediatric mortality rate since populations are stable when the average woman has two children who themselves survive into their reproductive years.  She may also have children who die young and have no impact on population trends.  In our society, a newborn girl has a 99.15% of surviving to age fifteen (at the beginning of her childbearing years) and a 96.91% of reaching age forty four (and completing her childbearing years).  With such a high survival rate, you needn’t go much above 2000 to reach stability. 

     

    The other factor that matters, if we’re looking at individual societies, is migration.  The USA has had ZPG since 1973, but the actual population has grown since then because 1) the baby boom bulge has been filling out the older demographics and 2) we have substantially more immigration than emigration.  

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

    Most middle east feminists literally hate American women and consider
    them sluts, poor mothers and generally unworthy of even being
    considered women

     

    Brought to you by pulledoutofmyass.com.

  • crowepps

    I’m assuming that the number of unmarried women who are trying to get pregnant is small.

    I’m not sure that’s a safe assumption.

    An expert on Single Mothers By Choice (SMC), Dr. Bock reports that between 1980 and 1990 the birth rate increased 12 percent for professional white women ages 30-34, a staggering 78 percent for women ages 35-39, and 38 percent for 40- to 44-year-olds.
    http://www.pregnancytoday.com/articles/single-moms/single-by-choice-3161/

    It would be interesting to see some research on who it is getting pregnant, whether the pregnancy is wanted or unwanted, what difference the woman’s age makes, why the pregnancy is wanted or unwanted, etc., but so far I have only seen that type of research about the women who choose to have abortions, NOT the women who choose to complete the pregnancy.

    The numbers on adoption certainly seem to indicate that a lot of single women who choose to complete their pregnancies want to keep their children – from a high of 178,000 adoptions in 1970, the numbers had dropped to only 22,291 in 2002.

  • paul-bradford

    colleen,

     

    You’re like a puzzle to me, a puzzle I can’t put down.  I keep feeling that I’m maddeningly close to getting to a point with you were we can have a respectful and productive discussion but then you go and post something that makes me think you’re not listening to me at all.

     

    You suggest that I feel that stigmatizing women who have had abortions is a normal human social reaction.  This is nowhere close to the truth.  My opinion is that stigmatization, as a technique for dissuading women from abortion, is as counterproductive as it is cruel.

     

    Cruelty to women repulses me and counterproductive efforts to protect the unborn annoy me.  My constant hope is that those who care about the very young will develop ways of lowering the abortion rate that don’t involve coercion, intimidation or cruelty.  Actually, I believe that progress has been made in that area and that is exactly what I feel Guttmacher doesn’t notice.

     

    Abortion rates will decline as the status of women improves.  I’m not the only Pro-Lifer who has figured out that you can’t be good to the unborn unless you figure out a way to be good to their mothers.

     

    That said, colleen, I wonder if you could give me some insight into the dynamic that exists between you and me.  I gather, from your post, that you consider me a clumsy troll who’s looking for an outlet for my hateful and deranged ideas.  Do you ever get a weak moment where you doubt that assessment?  I wonder why you have never picked up the fact that I’m thrilled with the progress women have made in our country over the course of my fifty-five years and my hope is that that progress will continue.

     

    I wonder, also, why you have never picked up the fact that I’m immensely concerned about the status of women in countries where (as you rightly point out) women "are raised to think of themselves as some sort of livestock owned by their fathers and, in turn, their husbands".

     

    The subjugation of women is the principal cause of backward societies remaining backward.  I keep saying this, and it must be getting irritating by now, but the best investment a person can make to combat global poverty is in girl’s education.  That’s why my charitable dollars are sent to a girl’s school in Honduras.

     

    I’m happy to preach that sermon.  I do it every day and I’m sure I’m happier about that sermon than the people who have to listen to me but still I wonder.  Still I wonder.  How come I have a reputation, with you, of being a hateful troll?

     

    Your stubborn insistence that I’m your enemy just makes me all the more determined to help us find a way out of our deadlock. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    The main reason the West in general has been so spectacularly unsuccessful in countries like Iraq, Iran, Afganistan and Pakistan is because of what they believe is our morally degraded culture and particularly its women and children–and of course they blame it all on lack of male control.

     

    faultroy,

     

    I’m sure the women in Iraq were far more concerned about the bombs that Americans (mostly men) were dropping on their country than they were about the trouble American men were having "controlling" American women and children. 

     

    Westerners don’t always listen as well as we should.  When we figure out how to assist a country without overturning it we actually can be helpful.  Trouble is, we don’t always stick around long enough to develop that kind of wisdom. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    It might help you to solve the problem if you think about the fact that you are the one communicating your position and perhaps you are not doing so as clearly as you think. Perhaps part of the problem is that the statements you make contradict one another – as for instance “The subjugation of women is the principal cause of backward societies remaining backward” and ‘”I will not tolerate” it when women don’t value their zygotes as people’.

  • paul-bradford

    During childbirth, a woman expels a baby as well as a placenta and various fluids.  I was with my wife when she was giving birth — We certainly didn’t think of our daughter as one of the various products of pregnancy.

     

    We were, of course, viewing the entire business as if it were an important event in a human life.  I suppose if we looked at it in terms of my wife ‘emptying her uterus’ (kind of like a colonic, from the other side) the entire experience would have had a different feel to it. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    The assumption that one understands “what they believe” on the basis of news from a censored media or speeches given by those women who are given permission to leave the country is pretty baseless. Certainly I have heard this ‘westerners are immoral’ schtick from various terrorist groups and religious leaders, but it doesn’t have much to do with Islam. I’ve heard the exact same nonsense from Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

  • crowepps

    I think knowledge for its own sake is valuable, and being aware of what’s actually going on before making public policy decisions is important. I do tend to be suspicious, however, of people who are unhappy with what people are choosing to do voluntarily who use this type of research to ‘view with alarm’ and argue that the law/social pressure should be brought to bear to change things because women ‘should’ do this or that ‘for the sake of society’. The women who are chosing to have smaller families are PART of society. If the self-appointed elite and moral arbiters want to change things, then they need to change the inequities that drive the decisions instead of ignoring the fact that inequities exist and putting pressure directly on the women.

  • crowepps

    The point of using the medical term ‘products of pregnancy’ when talking about very early abortion, whether induced or spontaneous, is that the fluids, blood, and placenta represent far more of the total than any tiny fetus that might be present, and all of it flows out in a messy conglomeration, most of it indistinguishable on cursory inspection, but all of it has to be OUT in order to prevent infection.

    By the time of actual childbirth, the baby can be distinguished easily from the rest of the ‘products’ which I assume you didn’t hesitate for a second at discarding in the delivery room as no longer necessary.

  • ahunt

    Paul, when one gets pissy like this, it is a sure sign that nerves have been struck. Guy, I sympathize.

  • paul-bradford

    crowepps,

     

    Oh wouldn’t it be great if we knew exactly how many single women who have babies actually planned to get pregnant.  Dr. Bock’s report that the birth rate (I’m sure she means ‘fertility rate’, but I can see how she’d expect us to know what she meant by ‘birth rate’) increased in the various demographics doesn’t tell us what we want to know which is what did it increase to?

     

    So, what shall we do.  We have statistics for the pregnancy rates for unmarried women and if we could subtract out single mothers by choice we would have a reliable statistic for unwanted pregnancies that we could track year-by-year.

     

    The question I have for you is this:  Do you suppose that the number of single-by-choice mothers is more than 10% of the total number of single women who got pregnant?  If it’s less, then we are safe saying that the unmarried pregnancy rate is the same as the unwanted pregnancy rate +/- 10%.  That’s close enough, wouldn’t you agree?

     

    In 2005, there were 62.08 million women in the United States between the ages of 15 and 44.  Of that group, 32.23 million were unmarried.  Of that group, 2.52 million got pregnant.  Do you think it’s possible that we have 250,000 or more single-by-choice mothers every year?  If we do, then we’re going to have to get a precise (or reasonably precise) count of single-by-choice mothers in order to derive an unwanted pregnancy rate from the unmarried pregnancy rate.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    Why would this only be an issue for married women?

     

    Heather,

     

    My assumption is that the vast majority of single women do not want to get pregnant.  I also assume that the vast majority of married women do want to get pregnant at some point in their marriage.  An ‘ideal’ pregnancy rate for unmarried women would be pretty close to zero.  An ‘ideal’ pregnancy rate for married women would depend on how many children the average married woman wanted to have.  In the ‘fifties that number was higher than it is now — which is why the drop in fertility among married women isn’t entirely due to a drop in unwanted pregnancies.  Part of it is due to changing attitudes about ideal family size.

     

    Do you suppose that there’s a statistically significant number of single women who want two, or three, or four children to raise without the assistance of a man?  I’m not asking you whether you think it’s all right if a woman wants that arrangement — I’m asking you if you think that a lot of women actually desire that lifestyle. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    <blockquote>That’s close enough, wouldn’t you agree?</blockquote>

     

    That depends on the purpose for which the numbers are being derived.  The problem with all statistics that are assumed or guessed or have large variables is that when used to justify policy, each set of activists tends to ‘lean’ the statistics in line with their own assumptions and those inaccuracies can introduce huge distortions.

     

    The only way that I can see to make good policy decisions is to put together statistical analysis questionaires carefully so they don’t imply ‘right answers’, figure out which interview style is least likely to promote false answers, and then do the work of non-judgmentally finding out what is actually happening.  This is difficult since on a controversial subject like pregnancies where there’s been tons of media blather even the base questions like ‘was this a wanted pregnancy’ or ‘were you using birth control’ imply right answers – i.e.: ‘I’m not married so if I say I wanted to get pregnant then they’ll think I’m selfish’ or the alternatives ‘if I say I was using birth control they’ll think I’m promiscuous’ and ‘if I say I wasn’t using birth control they’ll think I’m stupid’.

     

    Since this issue is really important to a lot of people, it would seem to me to make more sense to do comprehensive research - not just why people have unwanted pregnancies but also why people have wanted pregnancies, and not just what happens when unwanted pregnancies are terminated but what happens when wanted pregnancies spontaneously abort.  There seem to be a lot of people who ASSUME that there are only two possible outcomes, abort or have a healthy normal baby, when actually there are a lot more: abort, suffer a miscarriage, easy pregnancy, pregnancy complications, normal fetus, grossly malformed fetus, dead fetus, normal delivery, ceasarian section, stillbirth, sick baby born, healthy baby born.  The compulsion to frame issues as though there are always two but no more than two opposing sides seems to be endemic to our discussion style but it’s just plain dumb.

     

    Even on a slam-dunk like ‘is human sacrifice awful’ the media will seek out some obscure professor to do apologetics for the Aztecs so the issue will have ‘both sides’.  Some issues have dozens of sides, that’s why complicated issues don’t have simple solutions.

     

    I think it would be far better to admit that sometimes we really don’t know what the facts are, recognize that assuming things won’t get us far, and table that issue while making more effort to figure out what the facts are.  Without those facts, it’s pointless to try to reach conclusions.

  • paul-bradford

    I do tend to be suspicious, however, of people who are unhappy with what people are choosing to do voluntarily who use this type of research to ‘view with alarm’ and argue that the law/social pressure should be brought to bear to change things because women ‘should’ do this or that ‘for the sake of society’.

     

    crowepps,

     

    No need to get suspicious of some random, faceless unnamed person.  Let’s start with your suspicion of me.

     

    I will admit that I’m unhappy about women commencing unwanted pregnancies.  A high unwanted pregnancy rate is something I ‘view with alarm’.  As to whether the unwanted pregnancy rate is a reflection of ‘what people are choosing to do voluntarily’ I’m not so sure.  Should law/social pressure be brought to bear to lower the unwanted pregnancy rate?  I’m thinking that wouldn’t help — but I’m thinking that things like education, contraception, changing attitudes about the responsibilities of men in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, a reduction in the pressures young people feel to have sex and a more determined motivation to avoid unwanted pregnancies actually would help.

     

    We’re dancing around this topic because you don’t trust me.  I know that unwanted pregnancy is a bad thing, and I’m not shy about saying it.  It’s bad for the woman whose pregnant, it’s bad for her partner, it’s bad for her child, it’s bad for society and it’s bad for me too.  Furthermore, I know that contraception, motivation and amount of coitus all impact the pregnancy rate.  It would be foolish to disregard any of these factors.  Finally, I know that I’m a person of intellectual curiosity and intellectual honesty.  I don’t want to fit the facts to some pre-existing ideology.  I want to get at the truth.

     

    I’ve learned some things by studying these statistics and I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you.  Some of these numbers surprised me and caused me to think about the situation differently.

     

    Some people, like me, are eager to change what people choose to do voluntarily in order to improve life for everyone.  Other people think it’s best to let everyone do what they want and let the rest of us ‘deal with it’.  Where do you come down on that question?

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    Do you suppose that there’s a statistically significant number of single women who want two, or three, or four children to raise without the assistance of a man?

    Considering the divorce rate and child support payment statistics, married women should also be considering whether they are capable of supporting the number of children they want without the assistance of a man.  There’s no guarantee Dad is going to stick around.

  • frolicnaked

    Do you suppose that there’s a statistically significant number of
    single women who want two, or three, or four children to raise without
    the assistance of a man?

    Paul, being unmarried doesn’t necessarily mean single, nor does it mean raising children "without the assistance of a man." Even limited to strictly heterosexual relationships, there are women who, though unmarried and intending to remain unmarried, are nonetheless in committed relationships and would willingly choose to raise children within those relationships.

     

    Is it enough to be statistically significant? I couldn’t say for sure. Anecdotally, I know a lot of people who fit this description, but my sample size and cross-section is admittedly pretty limited. 

     

    I’m not sure it’s accurate or reasonable, though, to assume the number is *not* significant — at least not without further research into the topic. 

  • crowepps

    I will admit that I’m unhappy about women commencing unwanted pregnancies. A high unwanted pregnancy rate is something I ‘view with alarm’.

    View with alarm all you want — that changes nothing.

    As to whether the unwanted pregnancy rate is a reflection of ‘what people are choosing to do voluntarily’ I’m not so sure.

    Actually, although I wasn’t clear, I was referring to married women now preferring smaller family sizes and single women choosing to have children.

    Should law/social pressure be brought to bear to lower the unwanted pregnancy rate? I’m thinking that wouldn’t help — but I’m thinking that things like education, contraception, changing attitudes about the responsibilities of men in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, a reduction in the pressures young people feel to have sex and a more determined motivation to avoid unwanted pregnancies actually would help.

    All of those things probably would help. So would making contraception cheaper and insisting that health insurance include reimbursement for contraception and obstetric care. So would reasonably priced, adequate daycare. So would sensible sickleave policies. If children are ‘the whole point of society’ and ‘the future of the country’ it would be nice if their Mom could stay home when they’re sick.

    We’re dancing around this topic because you don’t trust me.

    It doesn’t have anything to do with ‘trusting’ you. I has to do with your habit of drawing conclusions based on your philosophy about reproduction unjustified by the facts.

    I know that unwanted pregnancy is a bad thing, and I’m not shy about saying it. It’s bad for the woman whose pregnant, it’s bad for her partner, it’s bad for her child, it’s bad for society and it’s bad for me too.

    And how do you ‘know’ all this stuff? Psychic powers?

    Furthermore, I know that contraception, motivation and amount of coitus all impact the pregnancy rate. It would be foolish to disregard any of these factors.

    True.

    Finally, I know that I’m a person of intellectual curiosity and intellectual honesty. I don’t want to fit the facts to some pre-existing ideology. I want to get at the truth. I’ve learned some things by studying these statistics and I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you. Some of these numbers surprised me and caused me to think about the situation differently.

    So roll it on out there – what did you learn and what have you changed your mind about. It isn’t necessary to give yourself a character reference and attempt to get agreement in advance that you’re correct.

    Some people, like me, are eager to change what people choose to do voluntarily in order to improve life for everyone. Other people think it’s best to let everyone do what they want and let the rest of us ‘deal with it’. Where do you come down on that question?

    People who want to change what other people do voluntarily because in their own opinion they are qualified to choose what will improve life for everyone had better have really solid facts and figures to support their opinion and a thorough grounding in reality. Sometimes people want to “improve life for everyone” because they sincerely see a problem that needs to be fixed; sometimes people want to “improve life for everyone” because they want the ego-boost of being a guru/savior/respected authority; sometimes people want to “improve life for everyone” to satisfy their own personal obsessions/proselitize their religion/advance their idee fixee, and sometimes people want to “improve life for everyone” because they just can’t tolerate having anybody around who isn’t Just Like Me.

     

    I have no idea whatsoever what your own motivation is, but frankly, while I think people are free to attempt to CONVINCE other people to agree with them and change their voluntary actions, I would argue that there should be no compulsion whatsoever to do so, no law MANDATING the behavior change, because if the change isn’t in tune with human nature it just plain ‘ain’t gonna happen’ and then the effort to compel slides easily over into oppression and persecution.

  • heather-corinna

    Here’s the thing: not only do I question the soundness of all of those assumptions I am just not sure why it all even practially matters. 

     

    In other words, unless someone is looking to defend being married or not, to flout one way of being in that respect or another, I have a very hard time thinking of an actual, practucal application for that whole married/unmarried differentiation in the first place, especially since those two legal states of being hold, within them both, an endless diversity of women.  There are plenty of married women who don’t want to have kids or to have any more kids than they do already. There are plenty of unmarried women who want them or who want more.

     

    For sure, if, in actuality — especially if it’s a big difference — being married or not married has a big impact on if unwanted pregnancies are or are not happening, then that information is practically relevant when we are talking about unwanted pregnancy.  But I have not seen anything, in broad data, or in my work in this field, that suggests it DOES make a big difference overall.Perhaps I am missing something painfully obvious,and if I am, please do point it out.  But I don’t think I am.

     

    I also really, really need to ask you, like I have to ask some folks all too often at RH, to please remember that not every woman is heterosexual, or chooses to make her life and family (or wants to) with someone male-bodied or male-identified.  I don’t know why I and others have to keep saying this so often (and I confess, it makes me irritable as hell, but that’s the funny thing where being rendered invisible endlessly when you are RIGHT HERE blows mighty chunks), but there it is.  And even some women who are not lesbian or bisexual have or share families and have plenty of help without there being men present.  My mother, for instance, has constructed her self-made family over the last 20 years to be pretty much all-female, including with a longtime cohabitation with one woman, with the exception of my sister’s young son.

     

    In a similar vein, there are plenty of women who partner or make their family with men but who don’t envision that as having children in it or as being a partnership in which that couple creates children, rather than adopting or fostering. While my own partnerships vary, that is starting to look very much, as time goes on, like the way I’ll be doing it myself, save that I may well add more adult family members of varied gender.

  • colleen

    You suggest that I feel that stigmatizing women who have had abortions is a normal human social reaction.

    No, I suggested that this very, very common tactic and reaction of/from social conservatives might explain your handwringing and complaints about the Guttmacher’s supposed ‘bias’. Crowepps asked some characteristically excellent suggestions about your meaning and I posited an additional suggestion. I wasn’t saying that was what you meant, I was suggesting this may have been what you meant. We STILL do not know what you meant because you haven’t answered Crowepps questions at all.

    Actually, I believe that progress has been made in that area and that is exactly what I feel Guttmacher doesn’t notice.

    Perhaps because it does not exist outside of those moments when you click your ruby slippers and make a wish.

    I gather, from your post, that you consider me a clumsy troll who’s looking for an outlet for my hateful and deranged ideas.

    The post that was addressed to Faultroy? the reply I wrote to him because he, like you, was claiming that I was saying something I did not in fact say. No, I’ve been quite direct about what I think about you and your purposes in posting here. Trolling was not on my list.

    How come I have a reputation, with you, of being a hateful troll?

    What the fuck is wrong with you?

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • julie-watkins

    Sometimes people want to "improve life for everyone" because they sincerely see a problem that needs to be fixed … and sometimes people want to "improve life for everyone" because they just can’t tolerate having anybody around who isn’t Just Like Me.

    Looking at process gives hints. I think the best way to help other people is to know what their criteria is for being happy/satisfied/safe. Not necessarily giving what help they want without analysis … because sometimes what someone asks for isn’t the best way to get where they want to be. But, as you say, really solid facts & figures are necessary.

    The Golden Rule shouldn’t be "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" but rather "Do unto others as they would have you do unto them, and ask them to do unto you as you would have done unto you." If I want to help someone else, I don’t make assumptions about what I think they should want. I ask where they want to go and why and how they plan to get there. When I’m looking for charities to support I always am mindful of how much they listen and what their clients do with their help. One of the reasons why I donate, for instance, to Habitat for Humanity is they teach skills and leadership — there’s too many variables in building a house to not be teaching critical thinking instead of ideology.

  • emma

    crowepps, not sure if you were partially referring to me, but I was worried anyway that I was making Middle Eastern feminists and Western feminists sound like monoliths so wanted to take a sec to clarify. Was mostly basing what I was saying on feminists from MENA countries I know/have known through uni, who are obviously not representative of all women/feminists from MENA countries.

     

    Regarding the immorality thing…I love the way people like faultyroy have to come up with elaborate projective fantasy justifications for why ‘they’ hate ‘us’…like, the fact that ‘we’ keep bombing and torturing Muslims whilst preaching about human rights and ‘freedom’ isn’t enough reason for the victims of bombings and torture to be pissed off?!! But no, no, ‘they’ hate ‘us’ because ‘our’ slutty womenfolk have abortions. Oh, the mental gymnastics…

  • crowepps

    Recognizing the fact that feminists or ProLife activists or recyling advocates or any other group at all aren’t monoliths is really important when we are using the shorthand of talking about ‘they’. Paul has made the point here that even the extremely heirarchal Catholic Church hasn’t manage to stamp out dissent among its members.

    My point was addressed more to the fact that representatives of authoritarian countries are CHOSEN as representatives because their views are in line with authority. Certainly when Bush sent Janice Crouse to speak at the United Nations she wasn’t representing “American Women” but instead only the tiny minority which share her (and Bush’s) ideology and when the Bishops pronounce on birth control they don’t represent the views of the laity.

    To speak of the opinion of “Mideastern feminists” or for that matter of “Mideastern people” based on the opinions that their governments allow through the censorship screen will inevitably give a false picture. I think most people would agree it produces a false picture of the opinion of the “American people” to listen to the self-proclaimed spokesmen of our media, but it’s a lot easier to forget that when dealing with representatives of a foreign country and certainly when we forget that the governments of those countries go to extreme lengths to discourage and stifle dissenters.

  • crowepps

    I read somewhere that a higher percentage of lesbian households have children present than households with opposite-sex couples. That seems intuitively correct, since there’s a preference for children to be with their mothers rather than their fathers and two mothers would result in more kids. It would sure be nice if we could disconnect the welfare of kids from the sexual activities of the adults taking care of them, since the two entirely different realms should never interconnect at all.

  • crowepps

    Just as Paul has repeatedly made it clear that his personal emotional reaction to zygotes is supposed to be central to the decisions of other people in choosing their behaviors, his reaction to posts here has consistently been about his personal self-esteem, his hurt feelings, and his emotional reactions to perceiving disrespect in other people’s posts. Why don’t we understand him? Why are we rejecting his wisdom? Why can’t we just LEARN from him? Don’t we get that he really CARES about this? Unfortunately, having a disproportionate emotional investment in an issue does not confer either knowledge, insight or wisdom.

  • paul-bradford

    There’s no guarantee Dad is going to stick around.

     

    crowepps,

     

    Speaking from the perspective of a child whose father avoided support payments, it has always floored me that there isn’t more of an outcry about this than there is.

     

    It seems to me that in the event that one parent is raising a child alone, the government should step in and issue checks to the custodial parent that represent in an amount that reflects the actual needs of the child.  Then the government ought to go after the other parent to repay the money that has been given to his/her children.

     

    The government can be a very persuasive debt collector when it wants to be. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    frolicnaked,

     

    Here’s the problem: the census department has been tracking the number of children born to unmarried women since 1900 and has been tracking the number of abortions procured by unmarried women since 1973. Therefore, we have very accurate stats for the pregnancy rate of unmarried women.

     

    What we want are stats for the pregnancy rate of truly single women who don’t want babies.  Too bad we don’t have those stats.

     

    I claim that the rate we do have is close enough to the rate we want for us to spot trends in rates of unwanted pregnancy.  Our statistics, I claim, will have some degree of ‘noise’ (unmarried women who want to have babies) but not so much that they would make the numbers useless.

     

    It seems to me that if we could agree to examine the pregnancy rate of unmarried women we would get some information about contraceptive effectiveness, motivation to avoid pregnancy, and rates of coitus tracked over a long number of years.  I’m hesitant to bring those numbers out — even though I’m convinced that they’re very useful — because posters here will claim that incidents of unmarried women wanting children would invalidate them.

     

    How else are you going to figure out the trends of contraception, motivation, and sexual activity among single people?

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    This system is called “welfare” or “aid to dependent children” as in ‘welfare queen’ and ‘paying sluts to sit around the house eating bon-bons’ and ‘limit eligibility to a maximum of five years total’. This program is highly controversial and its opponents repeatedly try to eliminate it, most of whom, ironically, are from the same groups who are most concerned that women be prevented from getting abortions or using birth control.

  • jayn

    Paul, that only works if the other parent actually has that money to be taken.  The other parent may not be working, be working under the table, or working and barely able to afford their own needs.  A certain percentage of ‘deadbeat Dads’ are men who WANT to support their children, but don’t have the means to.

  • paul-bradford

    crowepps,

     

    Please don’t think that I’m disregarding your concerns.  I didn’t say I was interested in making the taxpayers responsible for Dad ‘skipping out’.  I want Dad to be liable, but I realize that a child’s needs can’t wait.  If it takes Dad ten or fifteen years to repay the government, our treasury will be able to sustain the hit.  If Mom has to wait ten or fifteen years to feed Baby, well, then we’ve got a big problem!

     

    It also might interest you to learn that rich government contractors cheat taxpayers out of more money than ‘Welfare Moms’.  But that will get us onto an entirely different subject!

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    I also really, really need to ask you, like I have to ask some folks all too often at RH, to please remember that not every woman is heterosexual, or chooses to make her life and family (or wants to) with someone male-bodied or male-identified. I don’t know why I and others have to keep saying this so often (and I confess, it makes me irritable as hell, but that’s the funny thing where being rendered invisible endlessly when you are RIGHT HERE blows mighty chunks), but there it is.

     

    Heather,

     

    You must be reacting to this comment of mine: "Do you suppose that there’s a statistically significant number of single women who want two, or three, or four children to raise without the assistance of a man? "  I specified ‘man’, not because lesbians are invisible to me but because I’m interested in discussing what can be done to lower rates of unwanted pregnancy.

     

    A single woman can’t find herself in the midst of an unwanted pregnancy without the ‘assistance’ of a man — if she doesn’t want to raise a child by herself we can assume the pregnancy is unwanted. The rate of single-mothers-by-choice is the ‘noise’ I want to eliminate in order to establish what the unwanted pregnancy rate is.

     

    The funny thing is that I’m so conscious of homosexuals that, when I wrote the post, I started off with the phrase "children to raise without the assistance of a partner" but I realized how ridiculous it would be to worry about the unwanted pregnancies of lesbians.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    I think it would be far better to admit that sometimes we really don’t know what the facts are, recognize that assuming things won’t get us far, and table that issue while making more effort to figure out what the facts are. Without those facts, it’s pointless to try to reach conclusions.

     

    So, if someone were to say to you, "Was there any increase in sexual (coital) activity among singles in the US from 1950 to 1980?" you would answer, "There’s no possible way to know, and looking at available statistics won’t help."

     

    And if they said, "My God, crowepps, the pregnancy rate for unmarried women was 14.1 in 1950 and 80.7 in 1980.  Surely there must be SOME correspondence between that rate and the rate of unwanted pregnancy.  Surely that rise couldn’t have been due to a DECREASE in contraceptive effectiveness!" you would reply, "Not enough facts to reach a conclusion.  As far as any of us know, sexual mores have no effect whatsoever on the unwanted pregnancy rate." 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • frolicnaked

    I claim that the rate we do have is close enough to the rate we want
    for us to spot trends in rates of unwanted pregnancy.  Our statistics,
    I claim, will have some degree of ‘noise’ (unmarried women who want to
    have babies) but not so much that they would make the numbers useless.

    Paul, we may have to agree to disagree on this one. Perhaps we’re part of very different demographic groups, but among the people I know personally, the exceptions to the rule would be enough to significantly impact the trends — enough to make them largely inaccurate. 

     

    That’s not to say I think all demographic groups would have the same results as the people and groups I know. However, without comprehensive and detailed data behind it, it’s not a claim I can currently see supporting as sound. 

  • crowepps

    How else are you going to figure out the trends of contraception, motivation, and sexual activity among single people?

     

    Since I don’t have any particular urge to interfere in their lives or encourage them to live their lives the way I personally think best, I don’t need to ‘figure out’ their trends.  The only public policy question I would address with ‘single people’ and sexuality is ensuring that they get the necessary knowledge during comprehensive sex education in school and enforcing laws against sexual assault.

     

    So, if someone were to say to you, “Was there any increase in sexual (coital) activity among singles in the US from 1950 to 1980?”; you would answer, “There’s no possible way to know, and looking at available statistics won’t help.”

     

    See, that’s the problem, Paul.  We were discussing a set of baseline stats about birth rates and reproductive rates and you wanted to ‘tweak’ them in order to estimate information which they did not address by ‘assuming’ that the majority of single women were unwilling to get pregnancy on the basis that YOU don’t think they should want to be and then go further and assume that you ‘figure out’ their contraceptive use.  Now, after making up THEIR emotional state out of thin air and guessing their actions, you want to go further and not only ask me questions but invent my answers.

     

    And if they said, "My God, crowepps, the pregnancy rate for unmarried women was 14.1 in 1950 and 80.7 in 1980.  Surely there must be SOME correspondence between that rate and the rate of unwanted pregnancy.  Surely that rise couldn’t have been due to a DECREASE in contraceptive effectiveness!" you would reply, "Not enough facts to reach a conclusion.  As far as any of us know, sexual mores have no effect whatsoever on the unwanted pregnancy rate.”

     

    While I might say ‘not enough facts to reach a conclusion’ the rest of that is just putting silly blather in my mouth.  This is the kind of thing that makes the others here trying to have a discussion really impatient with you.  It is actually possible to have a discussion and agree to disagree or to drop a subject without getting all huffy and sarcastic because somebody doesn’t buy into your premise.

     

    I have a suggestion – if we REALLY want to find out about women’s voluntary reproductive choices and contraceptive use and STD risk factors and whether pregnancies are wanted or unwanted, why don’t we create a non-profit organization that educates about contraceptives and supplies them at low cost, educates about and treats STDs for low cost, and which is willing to let women with unwanted pregnancies choose between the options of adoption, social service assistance to complete the pregnancy or safe, legal abortions.  The various responses of the women in voluntarily contacting and interacting with that agency would give us all KINDS of real world, valuable information about ‘sexual mores’.  Surely no one could possibly object to finding out what women REALLY want, right?

  • paul-bradford

    I have a suggestion – if we REALLY want to find out about women’s voluntary reproductive choices and contraceptive use and STD risk factors and whether pregnancies are wanted or unwanted, why don’t we create a non-profit organization that educates about contraceptives and supplies them at low cost, educates about and treats STDs for low cost, and which is willing to let women with unwanted pregnancies choose between the options of adoption, social service assistance to complete the pregnancy or safe, legal abortions.

     

    crowepps,

     

    You absolutely must be yanking my chain!  There is already an organization that does everything you suggest and it’s called Planned Parenthood.  What Planned Parenthood doesn’t do, however, is compile data on the things you claim we don’t have enough information to discuss.  It doesn’t make a comprehensive study of contraceptive use, it doesn’t gather details about different women’s attitudes about a fetus’ right to life, it doesn’t track how many unmarried women are in committed relationships, it doesn’t track whether or not women are intentionally becoming mother’s while they’re single, it doesn’t track how much sex women are having.  Those are the details we need to consider if we want to make lowering unwanted pregnancy a public health policy issue.

     

    Not only does Planned Parenthood not gather this information but abortion rights advocates (presumably including PP) have been very vocal in opposing the new Oklahoma abortion law which seeks to gather the very information you and I are in the dark about. 

     

    It is actually possible to have a discussion and agree to disagree or to drop a subject without getting all huffy and sarcastic because somebody doesn’t buy into your premise.

     

    Look, you have already pointed out — and you’re accurate in this observation — that I can become emotionally exasperated when other people can not (or will not) admit to realities that are, to me, plain as day.  I don’t become ‘huffy and sarcastic’ because I’m a huffy or sarcastic person I do it because I deeply care about getting our society off the dime on this issue and that means we need to learn from experience.  Believe me, I can get just as ‘huffy and sarcastic’ with people on the right who keep insisting on attempting tactics that they ought to know are unfeasible,  ineffective or inappropriate.

     

    I want information because I want good public policy.  I think we, as a society, can reduce highway deaths, reduce smoking, reduce obesity, reduce alcoholism and drug addiction, reduce depression and suicide and I think we can reduce unwanted pregnancy too.  To do any of these things requires that we keep trying different attempts until we find out what works — but to do that effectively we’ll have to be honest with ourselves about the effectiveness of the attempts we’ve already tried. 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • colleen

    Not only does Planned Parenthood not gather this information but abortion rights advocates (presumably including PP) have been very vocal in opposing the new Oklahoma abortion law which seeks to gather the very information you and I are in the dark about.

    Perhaps because those who oppose this law are disgusted by the fact that it seeks to humiliate and stigmatize women who have had abortions.

    I can become emotionally exasperated when other people can not (or will not) admit to realities that are, to me, plain as day.

    ‘Realities’ like the notion that zygotes are tiny persons of immense value?
    I note that you, as usual, failed to respond to the most interesting part of Crowepps’s post which was this precise description of what it’s like to try to converse with you:

    We were discussing a set of baseline stats about birth rates and reproductive rates and you wanted to ‘tweak’ them in order to estimate information which they did not address by ‘assuming’ that the majority of single women were unwilling to get pregnancy on the basis that YOU don’t think they should want to be and then go further and assume that you ‘figure out’ their contraceptive use. Now, after making up THEIR emotional state out of thin air and guessing their actions, you want to go further and not only ask me questions but invent my answers.

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • crowepps

    It doesn’t make a comprehensive study of contraceptive use, it doesn’t gather details about different women’s attitudes about a fetus’ right to life, it doesn’t track how many unmarried women are in committed relationships, it doesn’t track whether or not women are intentionally becoming mother’s while they’re single, it doesn’t track how much sex women are having. Those are the details we need to consider if we want to make lowering unwanted pregnancy a public health policy issue.

    Why doesn’t PP do this? Perhaps one of the reasons is that they are providing HEALTH CARE instead of viewing their patients as sociological study participants or attempting to influence their ‘attitudes’. Another reason might be that the attempts by ideologues to obtain and highjack their records in violation of patient privacy makes it dangerous for them to compile those records. Certainly whether a woman is in a ‘committed relationship’ and ‘how much sex women are having’ doesn’t have a whole lot to do with unwanted pregnancy. It’s possible to be in a committed relationship and to NOT want a pregnancy. It’s possible to rarely have sex and still get pregnant.

     

    It’s my understanding that multiple studies have shown that unwanted pregnancy is connected to inability to obtain contraception, inability to correctly use contraception, inability to tolerate the side-effects of contraception, and lack of agency to insist on contraception. Those studies and public health attempts to address those problems through public funding of contraception, education, contraception research and female empowerment have triggered shrill cries of horror from those who insist that the entire subject of contraception is evil as are all of the various effective methods (see Anne’s insistance that abstinence during fertile periods is NOT contraception even though its purpose is to prevent pregnancy), that single women who have sex are evil, that married women who don’t want to get pregnant are evil. Having declared 95% of the woman in the country Satanic, they insist that the government should reduce even further the information available, reduce even further the types of and access to contraception, and instead concentrate on stamping out sex. Do you seriously think that an organization with reasonable worries that the nutjobs outside the doors are armed is going to compile and promulgate information that will assist those nutjobs in identifying and attacking their patients?

    Look, you have already pointed out — and you’re accurate in this observation — that I can become emotionally exasperated when other people can not (or will not) admit to realities that are, to me, plain as day.

    Sounds like an obsession – “Compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea…often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety”. The fact that you believe something does not mean that it is true and when other people don’t agree with you that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Isn’t it kind of unhealthy to blame other people’s intransigance in disagreeing with you for your ‘emotional exasperation’? The exasperation arises not from their disagreement but instead from your belief that your ‘realities’ are superior to those of other people and that those people should react subsurviently to your statements, discard their own reality and adopt your version even though they don’t believe it’s true but instead entirely because YOU believe it’s true and they’re supposed to ignore the known facts, honor your emotional reaction as persuasive, and take your word for it.

     

    I have been unable to get through to you how errors in mitosis, high spontaneous abortion rates and the existence of molar pregnancy invalidate your ‘every zygote a person’ premise, although I’ve tried explaining it in several different ways. The fact that I cannot put that point across effectively doesn’t make me distraught about your reaction. I am aware that we don’t agree and I can tolerate that we differ without all the angst and emotional involvement that you seem to suffer as evidenced by your posts.

  • paul-bradford

    you, as usual, failed to respond to the most interesting part of Crowepps’s post which was this precise description of what it’s like to try to converse with you:

     

    colleen, 

     

    I’m sure that by now you must realize how delighted I am whenever you respond to one of my posts and how eager I am to respond to any questions or comments you have.  I am, as always, more than happy to reflect on the particular passage of crowepp’s post that you’ve quoted.

     

    Let me begin by saying that I’m not entirely sure that I understood what she was getting at — but I will do my best to deal with it.  I’m sure you will set me straight if I get any of this wrong.

     

    The ‘baseline stats’ of birth rates and reproductive rates were culled from the Annual Statistical Abstract published by the U.S. Census Bureau.  I’ve got an Excel spreadsheet on my desktop with yearly stats on births, abortions, population and so forth broken down into the various demographic including women of childbearing age, married women and unmarried women.  My hope is that I can tease out from this data all the information we can get about how unintended pregnancy rates have changed over the years.  Ideally, I’d like us to learn all the causes that make those rates go up and all the causes that make those rates go down.  I do this because I consider unwanted pregnancy to be a vital public health issue and I’m convinced that we, as a society, should do much more than we’re doing to lower that rate.  Obviously, the more we know about how various factors effect the rate the more likely we will be to develop policies that will lower the rate. 

     

    As you know, women in our country are not required to file a report with the authorities as soon as they learn that they are pregnant, nor are they required to disclose whether or not they were happy to get the news.  For some reason, you damn civil libertarians have got us convinced that that would be an inappropriate invasion of a citizen’s privacy.  If we had that information we would be able to have an accurate record of how the rate of unwanted pregnancy has gone up or down over the years.

     

    Since we don’t have that information directly, I try to see if there’s an indirect way to get that information out of the stats we do have.  We do have the pregnancy rates of women in their childbearing years, of married women in that demographic and of unmarried women in that demographic.  Those are the clues we have.  If we had better clues I would use the better clues.

     

    I decided that it would be reasonable to assume that married women are far more likely to want to get pregnant than unmarried women and that, therefore, the pregnancy rates of unmarried women would give us a better indication of the incidence of unwanted pregnancy than the pregnancy rates of married women.  I did not make that assumption in order to advance a political or ideological agenda, nor did I make that assumption in order pass judgment on the decisions that different women make.  I made that assumption because I know a little bit about the way actual people actually behave.

     

    Not every woman is like this but, in the main, unmarried women do not want to get pregnant and married women want to get pregnant enough times to fill out their idea of an ideal family size.  The more information I have about the behavior of women who don’t behave like average women do the better able I would be to ‘tweak’ the statistics and produce accurate data about unwanted pregnancy.

     

    crowepps claimed that I stated that the "majority of single women were unwilling to get pregnant on the basis" of the idea that I "don’t think they should want to be".  I hope to give you a precise description of how I feel when I am so totally misunderstood.  First of all, I feel that I am a victim of prejudice.  Because I want to help protect the unborn it is assumed by most of the regulars here that I am eager to make judgments about all manner of lifestyle decisions that various women make.  It is even assumed that the judgments I will make will be traditional and old-fashioned.  The fact that I consider it both unnecessary and intrusive to make such judgments is utterly disregarded.

     

    I feel invisible.  I’m trying to be seen.  I’m trying to be heard.  You’re seeing and hearing things, but you ain’t hearing or seeing me.  You continually rub up against your own expectations about what you think I am and these expectations are completely different from reality. 

     

    crowepps seems to have taken offense that I believe that census statistics can give us a clue about the effectiveness of contraception.  My only desire is to use the best problem solving techniques I know to get at information that is important.  If we are serious about lowering the rate of unwanted pregnancy we need to know how the rate is effected by contraception.  It’s an important piece of data.  I’m dying to know what it is.  crowepps thinks I’m being offensive by assuming that rates of unwanted pregnancy give some sort of clue as to how effective contraception is.

     

    I don’t dismiss people’s claims out of hand — I simply want to examine the evidence.  I want to know what makes contraception more effective.  I want to know how coital frequency effects pregnancy rates.  I want to know what sort of factors effect contraception and coital frequency.

     

    I’m offended by the fact that you’re offended by my curiosity.  Believe me, if somebody gives me better data I’d be more than happy to use it.  I think it’s downright curious that the pregnancy rate for unmarried women peaked in 1991 and has been going down steadily since then.  I’m not trying to impose my values on women — I’m trying to figure out what we’ve been doing right so that we can keep doing it.  Whatever it is.  If it’s birth control — get more birth control.  If it’s a decrease in teenage sex — let’s try to decrease teenage sex.  If it’s better education — let’s continue to educate. 

     

    Then we get the kicker: Now, after making up THEIR emotional state out of thin air and guessing their actions, you want to go further and not only ask me questions but invent my answers.  I’m not inventing people’s answers.  I’m truly and honestly trying to find out what people think.  I certainly am not making up anyone’s emotional state.  I’m trying to utilize what I know about the way people behave in order to figure out what might influence their behavior in the future.

     

    Bottom line:  I want people to do whatever will lower the unwanted pregnancy rate, and I want the society to support those behaviors. 

     

    Is that really so terrible?

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    crowepps seems to have taken offense that I believe that census statistics can give us a clue about the effectiveness of contraception.

    No, I didn’t “take offense”. I pointed out that you were wrong, that the statistical information you had would not help to clarify the conclusions you are trying to make because you were making unwarranted assumptions about ‘what women probably want’. You do that again in this post.

    My only desire is to use the best problem solving techniques I know to get at information that is important.

    The best problem solving techniques do NOT include statements like “I decided that it would be reasonable to assume”.

     

    The great majority of this post, however, is about how the rest of the us aren’t reacting appropriately to how sensitive you are and how special your emotional reactions are and how hurt you are when you feel misunderstood. Insisting that we shouldn’t disagree with you or point out the weakness in your argument because you are devastated by our cruel treatment is blatant emotional blackmail and has no place in a reasonable discussion of public policy issues.

  • emma

    That was the reason I put ‘they’/’them’/’us’ and so on in quotation marks. There is no single ‘Middle Eastern culture’ or ‘Western culture’; there’s always dissent, because the interests of the elites (political, financial, religious, whatever) often conflict with the interests of the majority of the population. In any case, I agree withwhat you’re saying, so….

     

    I sort of think of anti-choicers as a monolith, though. ‘Fiscal conservatives’, likewise.

  • emma

    I’m not sure I agree that it’s easy to forget that representatives of authoritarian regimes don’t necessarily reflect the beliefs/interests of the populations they rule. The very nature of authoritarian regimes guarantees dissent by different groups, and such regimes also tend to be good at squashing dissent – or attempting to, at any rate. No culture is static, and dissent is vital to keeping cultures alive. All cultures. Fukuyama was so very wrong.

     

    Seems like captain obvious to me….

  • crowepps

    People who are opposed to the ideology of the authoritarian regime would have no trouble keeping in mind that the beliefs/interests of the population are different — people who agree with some part of the ideology of the authoritarian regime would be more likely to forget it.

     

    IMO American moralists who believe that ‘fallen women’ are the cause of ‘moral decay’ are going to far more likely to ignore the fact that there is dissent to the idea among the people living under those regimes as I think as well they tend to ignore the pretty clear evidence those regimes represent that theocratic regimes have to be authoritarian.  Some American moralists agree with the idea that the proper role of government is to enforce morality but don’t grasp that the authoritarism itself is evidence that government cannot succeed without resorting to oppression. 

     

    Reading The Age of the Unthinkable by Ramos and read something that really struck me:

    Louis Hallen, an American diplomat and strategist of the 1950s, once observed that foreign policy is made not in reaction to the world but rather in reaction to an image of the world in the minds of the people making decisions.  "In the degree that the image is false, actually and philosophically false," Halle warned, "no technicians, however proficient, can make the policy that is based on it sound."

    Most particularly in the abortion debate, there are people who have vested themselves in an "image of the world" that is false, based in unrealistic mythos and idealistic romanticism, and that may be why a sound policy cannot be constructed.