Birth rates, Positive Alternatives and the abortion decline: A response to Robin Marty

By Paul Stark

MCCL Executive Director Scott Fischbach

Regarding the recently-released 2011 Minnesota Abortion Report, which shows another decline in the number of abortions, Robin Marty of RH Reality Check writes:

“According to Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the state’s largest anti-choice advocacy group, [the decline is] because of the implementation of the ‘Positive Alternatives Act,’ a bill passed in 2005 to provide ‘resources’ to convince a woman or girl with an unintended pregnancy to chose birth over abortion.

“’The numbers speak for themselves: Positive Alternatives is providing women with the resources and support they need to choose life for their unborn babies,’ said Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) in a statement. ‘More women and teens are rejecting the abortion industry’s message that abortion is the answer to an unexpected pregnancy.’”

“But is that true? Not at all. If ‘more women and teens’ were choosing to carry their unexpected and unwanted pregnancies to term, there would be an increase in the state’s birth rate. Statistics don’t bear that out.

“Minnesota has been experiencing a declining birth rate for years, and it’s been approaching the lowest it has been in 100 years, the state reported last year”

But our point is that the likelihood of a pregnant woman choosing to give birth rather than abort is increasing due to factors that surely include Positive Alternatives. That is not the same as saying that the birth rate (number of births per 1,000 women of reproductive age) is going up, as Marty superficially supposes. Less women may be getting pregnant — and, consequently, less total women may be giving birth — but more of those who do become pregnant are choosing life.

The 2011 Abortion Report (from the Minnesota Department of Health) says as much. The number of abortions per 100 live births was 19.6 in 2000, 17.3 in 2007, 16.5 in 2008, 16.1 in 2009, 15.5 in 2010, and 15.1 in 2011. The percentage of pregnancies ending in abortion has decreased, and the percentage of pregnancies ending in live birth has increased.

Those are the facts. And they are not explainable in the way that Marty wants to explain them.

Editor’s note. Mr. Stark is Communications Associate for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, NRLC’s state affiliate. This analysis appears at