Thursday, January 17, 2008

The confusing parsing of abortion numbers

by shamanic

Before the confusion, the good news: Abortion rates in America have dropped to their lowest level in more than three decades, and more women are using RU-486 than surgical abortion. After that, the statistics become confusing.

For instance, the article says there are more abortions in the the Northeast than in the South. Fair enough, but clinics in the largely rural south are few and far between, whereas in the highly urbanized Northeast, my guess is that women are never more than a couple of hours away from a clinic. We also have the whack jobs pushing crazy laws designed to guilt women down here, and there are fewer of those nutbags in New Jersey.

In my imaginary perfect world, abortion would be (to borrow a phrase) safe, legal, and rare. 1.2 million still seems like too high a number, but I recall data earlier in the decade that showed a bump in abortions during the 2000-2001 recession and afterwards. In nearly every way, the new information is good news. Right up until the last sentence: "Nevertheless, 87 percent of U.S. counties, accounting for 35 percent of women ages 15 to 44, do not have an abortion provider, the report found." 87% of counties? That number is way too high too.

I suppose if you're highly resolved on this issue, this post seems contradictory. I want more access for more women and a reduction in the overall rate of abortion. It seems contradictory, but keep in mind what Planned Parenthood clinics do: they provide education, wellness check ups, and contraception as well as abortion services. Without those first three, a lot more women are going to need the fourth.

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