Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Prevent Abortions

PP's intensive effort to recast itself as a preventer of abortions doesn't bear scrutiny.

Planned Parenthood has been pushing pretty hard to keep federal dollars rolling in lately. Despite the fact that the battle is largely symbolic–the defunding measure won’t pass the Senate and the House will bargain it away for other, more pressing cuts–the PR effort has been intense. Planned Parenthood has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting itself a key part of keeping abortions rare, most especially by providing low-cost contraception.

Kirsten Powers committed some journalism and discovered that the facts don’t support the myth:

During the recent debate over whether to cut off government funding to Planned Parenthood, the organization claimed that its contraceptive services prevent a half-million abortions a year. Without their services, the group’s officials insist, more women will get abortions.

I’ll admit I bought the argument—it makes intuitive sense—and initially opposed cutting off funding for precisely that reason.

Then I did a little research.

Turns out, a 2009 study by the journal Contraception found, in a 10-year study of women in Spain, that as overall contraceptive use increased from around 49 percent to 80 percent, the elective abortion rate more than doubled. This doesn’t mean that access to contraception causes more abortion—though some believe that—but that it doesn’t necessarily reduce it.

In the U.S., the story isn’t much different. A January 2011 fact sheet by the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute listed all the reasons that women who have had an abortion give for their unexpected pregnancy, and not one of them is lack of access to contraception….

It’s unclear whether Planned Parenthood officials simply don’t understand statistics or are so accustomed to having their claims unquestioned that they think if they repeat them often enough, the facts will disappear. Obviously, you can complain of struggling with the cost of prescription birth control and also face an unwanted pregnancy for reasons that have nothing to do with lack of access to birth control. (By the way, Guttmacher was founded by Planned Parenthood; these are the numbers the group views as the most reliable….

To preserve its federal subsidy, Planned Parenthood continues to claim that without its contraception services the abortion rate will go up. This deception smacks of a fleecing of taxpayers in an effort to promote an ideological agenda, rather than a sincere effort to help women plan families.

Superficially, it seems perfectly logical that more access to contraception would lower the abortion rate. But the statistics make more sense on further reflection. I’ll be the first to admit I am entirely fine with the… sexual permissiveness of our culture. But it’s patently obvious that that a more promiscuous society is going to generate more unplanned pregnancies whether we make contraception hard to get or hand it out on every street corner.

The mistake I think a lot of people make is in thinking that promoting access to contraception promotes promiscuity. There’s definitely a positive feedback loop here, but the causal connection runs in the opposite direction. As we’ve become more sexually “liberated,” we’ve demanded (and gotten) greater access to contraception. And more access to abortion, which also contributes to the positive feedback loop. In this, I disagree with my friend Stacy McCain, who believes that “contraception involves a rejection of God.”

My take is that, if we were in fact designed by God, our ability to take pleasure and comfort and express ourselves through sex isn’t an accident. So that form of “recreation” is as valid as any other, proper respect for our fellow humans being assumed. One doesn’t expect to create new life going to the movies or playing golf. And part of civilized modernity is asserting control over Nature–to me, contraception is no more controversial in that respect than air conditioning. Both improve our ability to enjoy our lives. Sex isn’t inherently sinful; sin only enters into it when one is selfish, and insensitive.

So I am all for ready access to contraception. But a rising tide lifts all boats. More people having more sex means more unplanned pregnancies. And Stacy is certainly correct that contraception isn’t a “sacred right that… must be subsidized by taxpayers.” [His emphasis.] Family planning, in any sense of the phrase, is not the federal government’s job.

Planned Parenthood exists to promote an agenda. Preventing abortions is not and never has been part of it–they perform hundreds of thousands of them a year. Trying to suggest otherwise would be disingenuous even if the statistics bore them out. The fact that they don’t merely serves to underscore the Orwellian absurdity of that argument.

UPDATE: As noted in the comments, rooting into the footnotes of the “current” data Ms. Powers offers as unchanged from the baseline study she cites shows that the numbers haven’t changed because they’re the same study. Why Guttmacher didn’t use more recent data–or Ms. Powers failed to note the source listed in the footnote–I have no idea. But without data separated in time from the baseline, my assertion that no statistical correlation can be found between availability of contraception and abortion rates cannot be sustained.

I relied on Ms. Powers assertion that she’d done the research, didn’t check the sources myself, and now have egg on my face. My apologies. Any data that would bear on the question is welcome.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Health, Health Care,
Dodd Harris
About Dodd Harris
Dodd, who used to run a blog named ipse dixit, is an attorney, a veteran of the United States Navy, and a fairly good poker player. He contributed over 650 pieces to OTB between May 2007 and September 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Amuk3.

Comments

  1. The right wing war against Planned Parenthood has little do with federal funding and isn’t even entirely about abortion. It’s about a bunch of social conservatives who think they can, or should, reverse, the Sexual Revolution.

    I don’t support the funding, but I’m not wiling to sign on to a demonization campaign that clearly has ulterior motives.




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  2. mantis says:

    Planned Parenthood exists to promote an agenda

    No, Planned Parenthood exists to help people.

    In this, I disagree with my friend Stacy McCain

    That guy is your friend? This elicits serious doubts about your judgement




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  3. wr says:

    Well, it might be “journalism” compared to what she writes for the NY Post or blathers on FOX, but I think I won’t just take this crusading journalist’s word for it.

    And I’m certainly not going to take the word of Dodd, who seems to believe that women were made for him to have sex with, but if they get knocked up, it’s their problem.




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  4. Dodd says:

    No, Planned Parenthood exists to help people.

    No. PP exists to make money promoting population control. By their own admission.

    That guy is your friend? This elicits serious doubts about your judgement

    Well, since I’ve actually met him and I very much doubt you have, and he’s an incredibly nice guy, your judgment is irrelevant.

    I think I won’t just take this crusading journalist’s word for it.

    You don’t have to. She supplied the data that changed her own mind.

    I’m certainly not going to take the word of Dodd, who seems to believe that women were made for him to have sex with, but if they get knocked up, it’s their problem.

    That’s what you got from this post? You must be first in your class at the Amanda Marcotte School of Seeing Only The Evil, Misogynistic Patriarchy I Already Decided Was There In Everything School. Because, obviously, when I go out of my way to emphasize the importance of “proper respect for our fellow humans” and that “sin only enters into it when one is selfish, and insensitive,” clearly I see women only as masturbatory aids that happen to breathe.

    Sheesh.




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  5. TG Chicago says:

    Turns out, a 2009 study by the journal Contraception found, in a 10-year study of women in Spain, that as overall contraceptive use increased from around 49 percent to 80 percent, the elective abortion rate more than doubled. This doesn’t mean that access to contraception causes more abortion—though some believe that—but that it doesn’t necessarily reduce it.

    True. But it doesn’t necessarily not reduce it either.

    The statistics quoted in this article don’t prove that PP prevent abortions, but they don’t prove that they don’t prevent abortions either.

    I mean, really, the argument being made here is silly. You actually think that PP has given out all these contraceptives, but somehow has never managed to prevent a single abortion? The only semi-plausible way you could make that argument is if you claimed that the increased access to contraceptives somehow led to an increased rate of accidental pregnancy, which you specifically (and sensically) reject.

    Regrettably –and less sensically — that leaves you saying such things as:

    But it’s patently obvious that that a more promiscuous society is going to generate more unplanned pregnancies whether we make contraception hard to get or hand it out on every street corner.

    That’s true, but irrelevant. The question is: Given the fact that society is more promiscuous, will we have more unplanned pregnancies if we make contraception hard to get or if we hand it out on every street corner? I think the answer to that question is “patently obvious”… and relevant!

    Sometimes counterintuitive thinking leads to counterfactual results.




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  6. Dodd's wife says:

    No. PP exists to make money promoting population control.

    Yeah, you can stop pretending you are not one of those wingnut anti abortion crowd now.

    A January 2011 fact sheet by the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute

    Pro-abortion? Yeah, that’s also a tell-tale phrase of the wingnut crowd.

    face an unwanted pregnancy for reasons that have nothing to do with lack of access to birth control.

    What reasons would that be? Oh, I know, the stupid slutty sluts who are just to stupid to care about birth control and then whine when they get pregnant. How dare they? Sluts.




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  7. Dodd says:

    The question is: Given the fact that society is more promiscuous, will we have more unplanned pregnancies if we make contraception hard to get or if we hand it out on every street corner? I think the answer to that question is “patently obvious”… and relevant!

    No, the question is: Does ready access to contraception prevent abortions? And clearly it does not or the statistics would’ve shown some downward movement, not the opposite.




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  8. Mithras says:

    PP offers subsidized birth control to poor women. To the extent that the method of contraception is reliable, then those women don’t face a risk of unintended pregnancy. And we know that 1 in 4 pregnant women will get an abortion on average – the rate is highest among poor women. So PP reduces the number of abortions performed. Obviously.

    You can’t validly use the statistic that a certain number of women who get abortions were using “a form of birth control” in the month they get pregnant to show that contraceptives don’t work. If the method of birth control is using condoms, well, that’s one thing. But if it’s the pill or implantable birth control, that’s something else entirely.




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  9. ratufa says:

    In the U.S., the story isn’t much different. A January 2011 fact sheet by the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute listed all the reasons that women who have had an abortion give for their unexpected pregnancy, and not one of them is lack of access to contraception….

    That is true, if you just look at that particular fact sheet. But, that fact sheet is a summary of other research, and one of the main papers it cites for figures on the reasons for contraceptive non-use is:

    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3429402.html

    and if you go to one of the tables (Table 3) that accompanies that paper:

    http://www.guttmacher.org/tables/3429402t.html#t3

    You’ll see that 12% of the woman who got abortions in 2000-2001 fall into the “problems accessing contraception” category, including 7.9 percent who cited financial reasons.

    With respect to the Contraception journal article, available from:

    http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/pdfs/journals/0010-7824/PIIS0010782410003276.pdf

    The authors admit that the reasons for the rise in abortions require further investigation, but propose several possibilities, including changing demographics and:

    One is the increase in notifications to the register, thanks to the improvement in its coverage and to the transformation of clandestine abortions and abortions performed abroad into recorded ones. Another is the change in juveniles’ sexual behavior patterns. Youngsters declare engaging in coital sex more frequently and more precociously and not always doing it in safe conditions from the perspective of both unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.




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  10. Chad S says:

    Dodd, no offense: but there’s no real proof of anything in your post here. The article you want to quote takes stats from Spain and doesn’t provide any stats or frankly evidence at all. There’s absolutely nothing in anything you show that shows any correlation or causality. ratufa’s quotes show that you didn’t bother to do any checking for yourself before writing this.

    I really like this blog, but posts like this are lazy, intellectually empty and beneath the usually stellar quality of the postings. This isn’t a first for the author either.




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  11. Dodd says:

    I really like this blog, but posts like this are lazy, intellectually empty and beneath the usually stellar quality of the postings. This isn’t a first for the author either.

    So, by relying on stats from an outfit founded by PP (yes, I checked that fact) that show that their self-serving claims in the middle of a fight over hundreds of millions of dollars are highly dubious, I’m being lazy and intellectually empty?

    Having studied statistics at the graduate level, I am naturally a little wary of meta-studies as they can be used to paper over inconvenient facts by watering them down. But, just as the hearsay rules allow statements against interest because they tend to be inherently reliable, when an institution that exists to promote legal abortion does such a study and finds facts that aren’t useful to that end, one can safely assume that the datasets haven’t been manipulated to produce that result.

    Likewise, one year of data doesn’t invalidate the overall findings of the survey. Far from it — the value of such meta-analysis is that, done properly (and we have no reason to believe Guttmacher doesn’t do its work diligently), they take eliminate outliers and show a more complete picture. So the fact that, say, one table in one study found a result that differs from Guttmacher’s summary of the data as a while doesn’t prove much. In fact, it suggests that Guttmacher didn’t find that particular piece of data particularly illuminating, else rutafa would not have found himself having to acknowledge that the fact sheet was accurately described.

    Finally, while the idea that more abortions are getting reported can certainly explain some of the variance, it beggars belief 30 years after Roe v. Wade to propose that that’s the primary factor. Rather, rutafa’s pullquote actually supports the theory I proposed in this post: More people having sex inevitably leads to more unplanned pregnancies…

    Youngsters declare engaging in coital sex more frequently and more precociously and not always doing it in safe conditions….

    Teenagers having unprotected sex in an environment where contraception is readily available (and remember, PP has been operating the entire time this data was expressing, not to mention the myriad other ways they can acquire it) does not result of lack of access. It’s from altogether more obvious causes.

    It shouldn’t be necessary for me to explicate these facts–or add a thousand asides for every possible red herring someone might throw out–just to demonstrate I’ve considered them. This is a blog, not a law review article or a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine. As such, I am inclined to conclude that it isn’t so much the fact that I reached a conclusion based on the facts contained in this post that bothers but the fact that you don’t like my conclusion. I invite you to attend to the beam in your own eye that blinds you to the “lazy, intellectually empty” artifice of accusing me of repeated instances of lazy, intellectually empty rhetoric in lieu of a substantive response and let me worry about the mote in mine.




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  12. Contraception is not for reducing abortion only says:

    Teenagers having unprotected sex in an environment where contraception is readily available (and remember, PP has been operating the entire time this data was expressing, not to mention the myriad other ways they can acquire it) does not result of lack of access. It’s from altogether more obvious causes.

    So your solution is to make contraception less readily available? Because teenagers are stupid and don’t always use protection even when it is available.

    Even if increase in availability of contraception does not reduce the number of abortions, why is that an argument for making contraception less available? I thought the purpose of contraception is to avoid unplanned pregnancy, not to avoid abortion. Is it your opinion that abortion is the only all encompassing EVIL that must be prevented? So it’s okay if children are born to parents who are not ready to be parents and end up abusing them or screwing up their lives/? It’s okay if some women have their lives ruined and earning potential destroyed because they are forced into motherhood before they are ready? Those are not problems we should be avoiding? Only abortion is the issue?




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  13. Contraception is not for reducing abortion only says:

    And it’s pretty stupid to look at a study of WOMEN WHO HAVE HAD ABORTIONS to conclude that contraception does not reduce abortions. What about the millions of women who used contraception correctly, DO NOT GET PREGNANT AND HENCE DO NOT GET ABORTIONS? Where’s the study about those women?

    As someone who has studied statistics at graduate level (congratulations, how nice for you!), I thought that would have been an important distinction for you. I guess not. What graduate school did you attend, again?

    The smugness in this post is rivalling the smugness at the League of Ordinary Gentlemen blog. Maybe you fit better at that blog than here.




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  14. sam says:

    [T]he theory I proposed in this post: More people having sex inevitably leads to more unplanned pregnancies…

    But don’t we end up, then, with dueling counterfactuals?

    PP:

    Yes, more people having sex means more unplanned pregnancies. But if PP wasn’t supplying contraceptives, there would be even more unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

    Anti-PP:

    If PP and kindred organizations didn’t provide free contraceptives, there wouldn’t be so much unrestrained sexual acivity, and thus there wouldn’t be so many unplanned pregnancies.




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  15. just me says:

    And it’s pretty stupid to look at a study of WOMEN WHO HAVE HAD ABORTIONS to conclude that contraception does not reduce abortions. What about the millions of women who used contraception correctly, DO NOT GET PREGNANT AND HENCE DO NOT GET ABORTIONS? Where’s the study about those women?

    Because the above post is about Planned Parenthood’s claim that their services prevent abortions.




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  16. Dissenter says:

    “It’s about a bunch of social conservatives who think they can, or should, reverse, the Sexual Revolution.”

    Don’t worry, Doug, the revolutionary work is done and victory won. There’s probably no reversing it. The link between sex and love is pretty much severed. The family is breaking down, and children go without mothers and fathers. Young people don’t date so much anymore; they just “hookup,” if they’re not too drunk to do so, or if they don’t commit suicide, now the third leading cause of death among young adults. Incidents of STDs (especially HIV) are on the rise and calls for more condoms get louder. More and more women, after decades of enjoying Revolutionary freedom, now suffer from post-abortion depression. But perhaps the most telling sign of irreversible Triumph is the success of the newly minted “right” to dismember a human fetus in the womb. Doug, once a society has agreed to such a procedure — and calls it a “right” — there probably is no going back. Sleep well.




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  17. Chad S says:

    Dodd: nothing you say does anything to help your case. You’ve shown nothing here and your retort is to try and throw it back to me along with trying to bury things in semantics? Again: you have no evidence of anything here. All you did in this post of yours is to regurgitate someone else’s lazy argument against planned parenthood. Only you didn’t bother to check if you were making a valid logical case.

    I realize you’re a hack, your post on the budget implications of repealing the ACA show that, but please don’t be so obvious about it. Feel free to have the last word, I’m done wasting my time on a hack like you.




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  18. steve says:

    Socially, Spain has been a pretty conservative country. As it liberalizes in its social attitudes, one would expect that the use of contraceptives and abortions would rise at the same time. Not that long ago, neither were socially acceptable.

    “But it’s patently obvious that that a more promiscuous society is going to generate more unplanned pregnancies whether we make contraception hard to get or hand it out on every street corner.”

    Nope. All other things equal, if two groups are having the same amount of sex, those using contraceptives will have fewer unplanned pregnancies.

    Steve




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  19. george says:

    In this, I disagree with my friend Stacy McCain, who believes that “contraception involves a rejection of God.”

    Sure, in the same way that taking medicine does (after all, if God’s plan is for us to die, its rejecting him to take medicine – or worse, get surgery).




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  20. An Interested Party says:

    The link between sex and love is pretty much severed.

    Yes, indeed, because from the beginning of time to the 1960s, that link was just so incredibly strong…




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  21. ratufa says:

    So the fact that, say, one table in one study found a result that differs from Guttmacher’s summary of the data…

    False. Guttmacher’s “summary” of the data (the second paragraph in the “Contraceptive Use” section of the fact sheet) doesn’t differ from the numbers in table 3 of the study that is cited. The summary cites the numbers (rounded) from the top 3 categories, with the “forced to have sex” number broken out from the “Unexpected/unwanted sex” category. Availability-related reasons are the 5th-ranked category.

    The Guttmacher citation in the Daily Beast article appears to be a summary that cites previous research, not a statistical meta-analysis of previous research, so I don’t think that one can jump to conclusions as to the validity of a data point based on whether or not that particular data point was included in the “In Brief” fact sheet.

    Finally, while the idea that more abortions are getting reported can certainly explain some of the variance, it beggars belief 30 years after Roe v. Wade to propose that that’s the primary factor.

    I’m not sure how the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in the U.S. can be used to explain changes in abortion reporting in Spain in the 1997-2007 time period, which is what the Contraception Journal study is referring to. But, perhaps a similar point could be made about the effect of the 1985 abortion law in Spain relative to the 1997-2007 time period.

    More people having sex inevitably leads to more unplanned pregnancies…

    As a general statement about a population, with obvious qualifiers about the type of sex, and assuming contraceptive technology stays pretty much constant, that’s true.




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  22. ratufa says:

    To clarify my previous post, that last sentence should have been “contraceptive technology and use” not just “contraceptive technology:.




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  23. TG Chicago says:

    No, the question is: Does ready access to contraception prevent abortions? And clearly it does not or the statistics would’ve shown some downward movement, not the opposite.

    False. That’s like saying that if the unemployment rate went up at all, the stimulus package must have been a failure. That’s clearly a flawed reading of the data. It’s well within the realm of possbility that the stimulus package might have been a success because it kept unemployment from going up more than it would have without the stimulus package. (of course, we can argue whether the costs of the stimulus package were worth the value we got out of it — I’m not suggesting that this ends the debate. it just pushes the debate in the right direction.)

    Similarly, one can argue that PP’s methods were not the most effective ways of reducing abortion. I’m open to that argument. But I’m not open to the idea that they haven’t prevented a single abortion, since that’s simply ridiculous.

    Seriously: explain to me how PP can provide access to contraceptives to thousands upon thousands of people and still manage to never prevent an unintended pregnancy. How does that work?




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  24. TG Chicago says:

    Sure, in the same way that taking medicine does (after all, if God’s plan is for us to die, its rejecting him to take medicine – or worse, get surgery).

    Actually, let’s look at modern medicine through the prism of flawed logic that Dodd demonstrates in this post.

    He would say that modern medicine has been an utter failure. Everybody in the world still dies regardless of whether they have access to modern medicine, so the facts show that there’s no value in using it.




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  25. Fog says:

    Wouldn’t it have been instructive to see which modern society has the lowest abortion rate, and then take a look at their policies?
    If we accept Guttmacher as the gold standard, the answer would seem to be NW Europe.
    I wonder why.




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  26. michael reynolds says:

    Here’s how a Dodd post goes:

    1) He finds a current GOP talking point.
    2) He echos same.
    3) He’s logically torn apart in comments.
    4) He get huffy and talks about how smart he is.
    5) It doesn’t work.
    6) He disappears until required to echo something else.




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  27. Herb says:

    “PP exists to make money promoting population control. ”

    What part of this profit-driven enterprise do you have a problem with exactly? Their disingenuous marketing strategy? Welcome to the world of profit-driven enterprise, dude. (Oh wait! Technically, they’re a non-profit….so much for the “making money” stuff.)

    Newsflash: Yes, M&Ms melt do in your hand, Coke is not “it,” and Folgers is not the best part of waking up. Spin happens.

    I once went to PP and while I wasn’t aware they were secretly trying to control the population, I was aware that they provided affordable and quick STD tests on a walk-in basis (which my GP does not). The building was like a fortress, with a two story fence, security cameras, a guard tower with snipers. (Just kidding about the guard tower.) A couple of unemployed dudes with signs and nice tans yelled at me the whole time. I had to be buzzed in through two different doors.

    Of course, the employees were very nice to me. They gave me an AIDS test even though I didn’t ask for one. They didn’t foist any population control schemes on me, nor did they advise me to get an abortion. They were consummate medical professionals.

    Then I went back outside, where the harassment continued….

    But hey….don’t get mad about any of that. Get mad when PP says they reduce abortions….ya know, focus on the important stuff.




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  28. Dodd says:

    So your solution is to make contraception less readily available? Because teenagers are stupid and don’t always use protection even when it is available.

    I quite clearly said the opposite.

    I’m not sure how the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in the U.S. can be used to explain changes in abortion reporting in Spain in the 1997-2007 time period, which is what the Contraception Journal study is referring to. But, perhaps a similar point could be made about the effect of the 1985 abortion law in Spain relative to the 1997-2007 time period.

    Or it could be relevant to the US statistics quoted in the article.

    FTR, thank you for engaging on the substance. It’s a refreshing change.




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  29. Matt B says:

    Dodd,

    One thing I’d caution you on is an assumption that abortion is always based on not wanting the child. I just did a quick scan of teh article and saw very little consideration played (unless I missed it) to the rationals women have for getting abortions.

    Speaking in the US, it’s important to look at the rise in prenatal testing technologies as an important factor in abortion rates. Abortion rates actually rise as access to prenatal care increases – as abortions are often suggested by medical practitioners after testing points to certain genetic disease conditions (like, but not restricted to, Downs Syndrome).

    I’d love to have seen this plotted against a graph of social factors like that. Also, I think that the immigration issue should be explored more.

    Oh, and one “weasel word” critique. This wasn’t a “ten year study” — that implies ongoing study across a decade. This was a survey that was matched to a previously conducted survey from ten years ago.




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  30. matt says:

    If there wasn’t a local planned parenthood here then my fiancee wouldn’t be able to get the contraceptives we use including the pill.. So are you proposing that there’s less of a chance of her having an abortion if she’s off the pill??




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  31. Socrates says:

    The idea that sex used to be about love, but now it is not (the link has been severed!) has to rate as one of silliest comments of all time.




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  32. matt says:

    James Joyner : Why do you waste your bandwidth on what is essentially a simple minded right wing troll? Dodd adds nothing to this site other then snark and outright hostility to facts that contradict his reality.




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  33. Dodd says:

    Oh, and one “weasel word” critique. This wasn’t a “ten year study” — that implies ongoing study across a decade. This was a survey that was matched to a previously conducted survey from ten years ago.

    Point well taken. Sloppy verbiage on her part.

    As for selective abortions arising from genetic testing, that phenomenon underscores the point made above: Access to contraception isn’t the primary explanation for the variance in abortion rates. Far, far too many other factors involved to give credence to PP’s self-serving PR campaign.

    If there wasn’t a local planned parenthood here then my fiancee wouldn’t be able to get the contraceptives we use including the pill.. So are you proposing that there’s less of a chance of her having an abortion if she’s off the pill??

    Since I have not in any way, shape, or form suggested Planned Parenthood shouldn’t be allowed to exist, your question is inapposite.




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  34. Jay Tea says:

    According to Planned Parenthood’s own 2008 annual report, they performed 289,750 abortions in 2006 and 305,310 abortions in 2007. For some reason, the subsequent annual reports available on their web site don’t offer those breakdowns.

    Let me re-create some number crunching I did a couple of years ago. Let’s assume that PP clinics are open for abortion 250 days a year. That means that Planned Parenthood performs, on average, 1,221 abortions a day. And assuming an 8-hour day, about 153 an hour. (numbers rounded — 1221.24 and 152.655, to be precise.)

    At last count, the number of American service members killed in Iraq was 4,439, and in Afghanistan 1,488.

    That means that Planned Parenthood, by themselves, replicates the Iraq war in 29 hours (less than 4 days) and the Afghanistan conflict in less than ten hours.

    That’s using the 2008 statistics. PP hasn’t published numbers for 2009 or 2010, as I could find, but the trend had been going up every year.

    305,310 abortions a year.

    That’s a hard, hard number.

    Further, from that same report, PP had a “profit” (well, technically, not a profit per se, legally, but “income over expenses” ) ratio of about 11%.

    Thar’s gold in them there uteri…

    J.




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  35. matt says:

    Jay : So how would you pay for the food and care of those 305k kids a year who would grow up unwanted and according to statistics most with severe medical difficulties? You won’t even support universal healthcare for the kids we have now and you think it’d be better if we had more?




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  36. Herb says:

    “FTR, thank you for engaging on the substance. It’s a refreshing change.”

    Please….in order for anyone to engage in substance, there must first be some.

    Is there a larger point you’re trying to make beyond “A firm’s PR cannot be trusted?*”

    (As observations go, this is neither profound nor substantive.)




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  37. Jay Tea says:

    So, matt, they’re inconvenient, so it’s better the fetuses be destroyed? A million every three years or so? It’s a form of euthanasia — they’d suffer if allowed to be born, so why not get rid of them first?

    I offered no value judgments, just presented numbers. Numbers straight from Planned Parenthood. Your response — “quick, make the subject universal health care! Euthanasia! Anything else!” — is quite enlightening.

    J.




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  38. An Interested Party says:

    The idea that sex used to be about love, but now it is not (the link has been severed!) has to rate as one of silliest comments of all time.

    Indeed…that is part of the general meme that things were just so wondeful in some mythical past and if we could only get back to those times, things would be so much better now…

    While we are on the subject of preventing abortions, I am curious…what ideas from the right can help to prevent or at least lower the amount of abortions (apart from outlawing them, of course)? Oh, and those ideas that run counter to human nature don’t help…people simply enjoy having sex, sorry…




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  39. matt says:

    Jay Tea : So only fetuses matter and who cares about them once they pop out of the womb? Who cares if they starve and die from lack of medical care just as long as they didn’t die in the womb….




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  40. matt says:

    Jay : so what was your motivating factor behind your post then?




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  41. Jay Tea says:

    Just providing some data points, matt. I’m on record as “squishily pro-choice,” but those numbers kinda set me back on my heels when I first saw them.

    So, what was your reaction when you realized the actual magnitude of the numbers involved? Did you know it was on the high side of 300,000 a year? And what does that mean to you?

    J.




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  42. TG Chicago says:

    Dodd, do you agree or disagree with Steve’s earlier statement:

    All other things equal, if two groups are having the same amount of sex, those using contraceptives will have fewer unplanned pregnancies.

    If you agree, then you must agree that PP’s distribution of contraceptives has resulted in fewer unplanned pregnancies, thus in fewer abortions.

    And I can’t really see how it’s possible for you to disagree. Please explain.




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  43. matt says:

    Since I have not in any way, shape, or form suggested Planned Parenthood shouldn’t be allowed to exist, your question is inapposite.

    Yes but does “Planned parenthood doesn’t prevent abortions” ring a bell?




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  44. Dodd says:

    I can’t really see how it’s possible for you to disagree. Please explain.

    Insofar as the entire purpose of the post was to explore that very question, I already have. Facts are stubborn things, and the fact is, more contraceptive use doesn’t correlate with fewer abortions. Even leaving aside the problem of contraceptive failure, the more sexually permissive we are, the more unplanned pregnancies we’re going to have. That is not a value judgment, obviously (I’ve also made it beyond clear that I have no problem with PP handing out contraception); it’s just a fact.




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  45. matt says:

    So, what was your reaction when you realized the actual magnitude of the numbers involved? Did you know it was on the high side of 300,000 a year? And what does that mean to you?

    I’m rather jaded by this point in my life as I’ve seen and dealt with death first hand way more then I’d like..

    I also know that in the grand scheme of things 300k is just a fraction of the total deaths a year that is seen on this world called earth.

    I also thought you were rabidly anti-choice and I apologize for the leap of logic on that one.




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  46. matt says:

    Dodd : Then your problem is with society itself and not PP because when someone hands me a condom I’m not going to suddenly use it on the first person I can find…




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  47. matt says:

    The part of Jay’s number that made me go “wow” was that the majority of PPs don’t even offer abortion so those numbers are concentrated to a minority of sites.




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  48. Dodd says:

    Then your problem is with society itself and not PP

    I don’t have a “problem.” I mean, seriously, as much time as I spent discussing the societal causes here — and the fact that I don’t think they’re bad (not to mention that the only negative statement I’ve made about PP is that this PR campaign doesn’t hold water) — your straining to infer that I’m making some sort of value judgment against sexual openness (or even PP as an entity) is ludicrous.

    It helps if you read only the black parts of what other people write and ignore whatever you see in the white parts.




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  49. matt says:

    Do you actually read what you type or does it just spew out so fast you never really have a chance to look at what you’ve typed? For god’s sake man you have been making one giant judgment against sexual openness in most of this thread…




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  50. Dodd says:

    Do you actually read what you type or does it just spew out so fast you never really have a chance to look at what you’ve typed? For god’s sake man you have been making one giant judgment against sexual openness in most of this thread…

    Your reading comprehension is astonishingly poor, matt:

    My take is that, if we were in fact designed by God, our ability to take pleasure and comfort and express ourselves through sex isn’t an accident. So that form of “recreation” is as valid as any other, proper respect for our fellow humans being assumed. One doesn’t expect to create new life going to the movies or playing golf. And part of civilized modernity is asserting control over Nature–to me, contraception is no more controversial in that respect than air conditioning. Both improve our ability to enjoy our lives. Sex isn’t inherently sinful; sin only enters into it when one is selfish, and insensitive. So I am all for ready access to contraception.

    the more sexually permissive we are, the more unplanned pregnancies we’re going to have. That is not a value judgment, obviously (I’ve also made it beyond clear that I have no problem with PP handing out contraception); it’s just a fact.

    Black parts, matt. Black parts. Also, it appears necessary to advise you that I am not the entity speaking through the fillings in your teeth.

    Ye gods.




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  51. matt says:

    You’re hopeless…

    So you still refuse to accept that the increase in available contraceptives can possible cause a reduction in abortions even with my own personal story? What if I told you a PP counselor actually talked a friend of mine out of getting an abortion years ago?




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  52. matt says:

    I guess the difference here is your talking hard numbers while some are talking potential numbers that never came to be because of contraceptives.. It is indeed a difficult thing to guess exact numbers in such a situation…




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  53. steve says:

    “Facts are stubborn things, and the fact is, more contraceptive use doesn’t correlate with fewer abortions.”

    You do not have the data to make an assertion about a relationship between abortion and contraceptive use. The Spain study is useless for making such an assertion. There are other, highly plausible reasons why contraceptive use and abortions would increase at the same time. Same as in the US. You need two groups, one w/o contraceptives and one with, preferably randomly chosen. Then follow them out over time.

    OTOH, we have lots of evidence that contraceptives do prevent conception.

    Steve




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  54. Dodd says:

    So you still refuse to accept that the increase in available contraceptives can possible cause a reduction in abortions even with my own personal story? What if I told you a PP counselor actually talked a friend of mine out of getting an abortion years ago?

    I’m sorry… are we shifting back to that topic now that your absurd notion that I oppose sexual openness has been beaten to a bloody pulp? I’m having trouble keeping up with how you bounce around trying to land a punch.

    Of course I don’t deny that in individual cases contraception can reduce the likelihood of abortion. My personal story would be different, but I take you at your word that you’d be inclined to abort your child if you found him/her inconvenient. But the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data.’ And the data–as you kind of just acknowledged–say more contraceptive use doesn’t correlate with fewer abortions.

    This is not a normative argument or an expression of some dark, misogynistic value judgment. It’s a simple statement of fact. Why do you have so much trouble grasping that? Because you don’t want to?




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  55. Dodd says:

    You do not have the data to make an assertion about a relationship between abortion and contraceptive use.

    What’s obvious is that you didn’t even bother to read the linked article:

    what is truly astonishing about the Guttmacher statistics is that they are completely unchanged from a decade ago.
    In the year 2000, Guttmacher experts reported: “Forty-six percent of women [seeking abortions] had not used a contraceptive method in the month they conceived, mainly because of perceived low risk of pregnancy and concerns about contraception. More than half of women obtaining abortions in 2000 (54 percent) had been using a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant.”
    These are exactly the same as the 2011 numbers.

    Over this time period, the U.S. government has funneled billions of dollars to Planned Parenthood, in large part because the organization claims to provide services to avoid unplanned pregnancies – a laudable goal. Yet despite a robust budget—Planned Parenthood reported a total annual revenue of $1.1 billion in its last financial filing—the organization has done absolutely nothing to change the fundamental dynamics of the United States’ abortion rate.

    In short, increased access to contraception does not correlate with reduced numbers of abortions. So, yes, I do have data to support the lack of a relationship.




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  56. Herb says:

    Hey, Matt, not sure how familiar you are with Dodd, but he plays a certain game where he writes a dumb post, gets challenged about it in the comments, then attacks the commenter’s “reading comprehension,” and/or mental health. (Or in your case, both!)

    In other words, yes, “hopeless” is quite apt.

    Question for you, Dodd: Do you really expect us to believe that your beef with PP is their “up is down” PR campaign? It’s got nothing to do with the federal subsidy and deceptive “fleecing of taxpayers in an effort to promote an ideological agenda” that Kirsten Powers wrote about? I mean, I know you think everyone else is an idiot….but surely you’re clever enough to know that this boat won’t float.




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  57. Alex Knapp says:

    I am relying on a translation of the Spanish data sources, but it appears that use of the morning after pill is included in the abortion numbers, which I think most reasonable people would find objectionable seeing as how that’s not actually an abortion.




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  58. Dodd says:

    Hey, Matt, not sure how familiar you are with Dodd, but he plays a certain game where he writes a dumb post, gets challenged about it in the comments, then attacks the commenter’s “reading comprehension,” and/or mental health. (Or in your case, both!)

    In other words, yes, “hopeless” is quite apt.

    Since I only remark on the reading comprehension of people who read what I’ve written in a manner that, as here, is totally at odds with the plain meaning of the words I’ve written, your observation is rejected. It’s not my fault you and your ilk are so prone to reading things like “if we were in fact designed by God, our ability to take pleasure and comfort and express ourselves through sex isn’t an accident… Sex isn’t inherently sinful; sin only enters into it when one is selfish, and insensitive” as meaning I want to impose Victorian sexual mores or some such nonsense.

    Question for you, Dodd: Do you really expect us to believe that your beef with PP is their “up is down” PR campaign? It’s got nothing to do with the federal subsidy and deceptive “fleecing of taxpayers in an effort to promote an ideological agenda” that Kirsten Powers wrote about? I mean, I know you think everyone else is an idiot….but surely you’re clever enough to know that this boat won’t float.

    Black parts, dude. Black parts. You might start with the several instances in which I have expressly stated that PP’s existence and its practice of giving out contraception are not an issue for me.

    See? This isn’t so hard to grasp: If you read the plain English meanings of the words I’ve committed myself to in a public forum, there’s no problem. If, OTOH, you insist on assuming “up is down” and that I don’t mean that I have no problem with PP handing out contraception when I say that I have no problem with PP handing out contraception, your reading comprehension is necessarily open to question.

    What you believe my “real beef” is of absolutely no concern to me at all. Just in this one post, you’ve quite clearly established that you don’t require actual evidence to support the caricature of people who disagree with you that substitutes for actual thought based on empirical facts.




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  59. ratufa says:

    An observation about that Daily Beast article that started this thread:

    A main point of the author is that:

    1) A January 2011 fact sheet by the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute says that 54% of women that had abortions used a contraceptive method. Her reference for that is:

    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

    2) In the year 2000, Guttmacher experts reported: “Forty-six percent of women [seeking abortions] had not used a contraceptive method in the month they conceived, and her reference is:

    http://agi-dc.org/pubs/journals/3429402.pdf

    3) The numbers in 2) are exactly the same as the 2011 numbers. Therefore Planned Parenthood has failed to changed the abortion rate, despite all the money that has been given to it.

    The problem with the argument above, is that the 2000 and 2011 numbers are the same because they are both based on the same research data. If you look at the reference for the supposed “2011 numbers”, you’ll see that the source of the data is the article that is linked to for the 2000 numbers.

    For the above reason, it might be more useful to base a discussion about changes in abortion rates in the US over time on some other data source, perhaps this paper:

    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/4304111.pdf




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  60. Ben Wolf says:

    It’s a survey, Dodd. The results are arbitrary and unscientific without controls, and the “facts” you cite have no sound basis. We get that you don’t like Planned Parenthood, but we understand that surveys are utterly useless for determining why someone does something.

    You might also try doing your own research, because the Guttmacher webpage states that abortions per 100,000 women have declined from 29.3 in 1981 to 19.6 in 2008. Yes, a contracaptives have become more available abortions have declined.

    Powers didn’t bother to mention that little tidbit even though it’s on the same damned page she linked to.




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  61. Dodd says:

    The problem with the argument above, is that the 2000 and 2011 numbers are the same because they are both based on the same research data. If you look at the reference for the supposed “2011 numbers”, you’ll see that the source of the data is the article that is linked to for the 2000 numbers.

    So they are. Apparently “committed some journalism” was a more apt phrase than I realized.

    That comparison having been shown to be an error, let’s look at the other data (including the 2008 study you provided). The abortion rate peaked 20 years ago and has now pretty much leveled off (or slightly increased from a low point).

    So in order to see if my conclusion that there’s lack of correlation is valid, we need information on contraception. After some digging around their site, I found this white paper:

    Virtually all women (98%) aged 15-44 who have ever had intercourse have used contraception at least once….

    About 11% of women at risk of unintended pregnancy are not currently using any contraception. Nonusers account for 52% of all unintended pregnancies in the United States.

    So awareness doesn’t seem to be an issue. Consistency of use does. This white paper has more detail:

    Women’s ability to avoid unintended pregnancy is related to their level of risk for pregnancy, their choice of methods, the strength of their motivation to avoid pregnancy and their pattern of contraceptive use…

    [M]any women have difficulty preventing unintended pregnancy simply because they cannot afford the more effective, prescription methods of contraception…

    [A]lthough cost and access barriers are not the reasons women most commonly cite for nonuse, one in 10 women who have experienced a gap in use in the past year report that difficulty accessing methods was directly responsible for their nonuse.

    The context suggests paying for their chosen method is the most common reason for difficulty accessing contraception, not actual availability.

    And, finally, Guttmacher acknowledges the vast improvement over the last generation in access:

    Breakthroughs in contraceptive technology, expanded government funding and evolving public health policies over the past 50 years have dramatically changed women’s ability to control their fertility and to better care for their reproductive health.This progress is reflected in part by the fact that the overwhelming majority of women at risk of unintended pregnancy in the United States—some nine in 10—are practicing contraception any given year.

    Yet, the fact remains that nearly one-half of all U.S. pregnancies are unintended at the time of conception. By age 45, nearly half of all women will have experienced an unintended pregnancy, and nearly one-third will have had an abortion.

    That seems to suggest that the correlation really isn’t there, but I can’t seem to find any replacement data for the erroneous conflation of 2000 and 2011 data I improvidently relied upon–whether the reasons for unplanned pregnancy changed or not. Perhaps I’m not searching properly.

    Believe-it-or-don’t, I am entirely open to being proven wrong. Any hard data that addresses that issue would be welcome. Data on contraceptive access since 1973 that could be compared to the trendline would also be useful.




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  62. Herb says:

    Re: reading comprehension.

    Please note, I didn’t say anything about your Victorian tendencies, or lack thereof. Nope, I said that I believe your true beef is with PP taking federal money and, worse, using this “we’re reducing abortions” PR campaign to try for more funding.

    Maybe that belief is wrong. I certainly don’t expect you to concede that this is what you’re truly trying to say, especially after you’ve denigrated your readers’ comprehension skills, but that’s what I think you’re truly trying to say.

    Am I wrong?




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  63. Dodd says:

    Maybe that belief is wrong. I certainly don’t expect you to concede that this is what you’re truly trying to say

    Ms. Powers’ opinions are her own. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m perfectly willing to say what I think. And I explicitly stated in the post that “family planning” is not the federal government’s job. I am therefore at a loss to figure out why you’re hurling spears about my “real beef.”




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  64. tom p says:

    “And I explicitly stated in the post that “family planning” is not the federal government’s job. ”

    Wow, I come in at at comment #63 and this is the first thing I read?

    Doob, who’s job is it? You can pass the buck until the cows come home, we are STILL going to pay the piper. When oh when, are you going to let go of this delusion you have that you are divorced from the rest of society?




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  65. An Interested Party says:

    …“family planning” is not the federal government’s job.

    Ahh, the poor libertarian’s/conservative’s lament…sadly for them, the ship about what the federal government allegedly shouldn’t do concerning so very many things sailed a very long time ago, and that ship ain’t coming back to port anytime soon…




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  66. steve says:

    “In short, increased access to contraception does not correlate with reduced numbers of abortions. So, yes, I do have data to support the lack of a relationship.”

    No, you still do not. I have read Guttmacher stats before. You will not find it with the kind of retrospective studies you cite. You need a prospective study here to answer this question. You keep looking at retrospective data that does not, cannot, rule out other factors. As I said, we know that contraceptives do work, when used properly.

    Steve




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  67. TG Chicago says:

    Facts are stubborn things, and the fact is, more contraceptive use doesn’t correlate with fewer abortions.

    That is absolutely not a fact. Think about this for a moment — suppose successful contraceptive use went up to 100%. Don’t you think that just might correlate to fewer abortions?

    To put it more concretely, using the Spanish numbers in the original post, it indicated a doubling of the abortion rate over the 10 year period in which contraception use went from 49% to 80%. It’s entirely plausible that if the contraception use had remained at 49% throughout the ten years, the abortion rate would have tripled instead of doubled. Thus, in that scenario, the contraceptives did, in fact, prevent abortions.




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  68. Paraxanthine says:

    Dodd, here are some data that bear on the question:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100312143318.htm




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  69. Hey Norm says:

    Unfortunately ms. Powers has gotten her propaganda out…there is still a blaring headline on the front page of the website…and a small mea culpable buried in the text. The damage is done.




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  70. mantis says:

    Well, since I’ve actually met him and I very much doubt you have,

    Wrong.

    and he’s an incredibly nice guy

    For a white supremacist, maybe.

    , your judgment is irrelevant.

    No less relevant than yours.




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  71. mantis says:

    No. PP exists to make money promoting population control. By their own admission.

    As long as you repeat the lie enough times, it becomes true!

    You wingnut liars are so tiresome and predictable, but tenacious!




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  72. Herb says:

    “I am therefore at a loss to figure out why you’re hurling spears about my “real beef.”” says the man with egg on his face.

    I quote Hey Norm: “The damage is done.”




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  73. Matt B says:

    @Dodd:

    As for selective abortions arising from genetic testing, that phenomenon underscores the point made above: Access to contraception isn’t the primary explanation for the variance in abortion rates. Far, far too many other factors involved to give credence to PP’s self-serving PR campaign.

    Again, to push… Is Planned Parenthood’s arguement that they are are attempting to reduce/keep all abortions down or abortions due to unwanted pregnancy down?

    That’s why the question of pregnancy’s terminated due to results of prenatal testing become an important discussion point. While these women (and families) may *choose* to terminate a pregnancy, it’s not because the pregnancy was unintentional or was unwanted in the way that is often discussed. And usually, these are planned pregnancies (ones that did not involve the use of birth control).

    So in that respect, the number of medically recommended abortions really do need to be taken into account (at least removed from the calculations that you are arguing for).




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  74. Dodd says:

    Well, since I’ve actually met him and I very much doubt you have,

    Wrong.

    and he’s an incredibly nice guy

    For a white supremacist, maybe.

    , your judgment is irrelevant.

    No less relevant than yours.

    Your casual defamation of the man based on some specious Charles Johnson guilt by association ad hominem renders your judgment worse than irrelevant. Figuresd you’d be one to hurl around the word wingnut.

    No need to bother responding to my posts anymore; you’ve proven you don’t merit any attention.




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  75. mantis says:

    Your casual defamation of the man based on some specious Charles Johnson guilt by association ad hominem

    Nope, it’s based on the things he’s written and said, but his various associations with openly racist groups don’t help.

    renders your judgment worse than irrelevant.

    Your opinion of my judgement matters about as much to me as your racist friend’s.

    Figuresd you’d be one to hurl around the word wingnut.

    Oh noes!

    No need to bother responding to my posts anymore; you’ve proven you don’t merit any attention.

    As have you. Good thing you don’t often have much to say.




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