By Dave Andrusko
Beyond the obvious—that it’s very important to know whether the death toll from abortion is rising or falling—why would National Right to Life News Today be running what will turn out to be probably 8-10 articles on Guttmacher’s latest abortion numbers–“Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2011”–that appeared in “Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health,” Guttmacher’s in-house journal?
While hardly perfect, everyone agrees that even although Guttmacher is a spin-off from Planned Parenthood, its numbers are the most complete. The Centers for Disease Control does good work breaking out the numbers by demographic groupings, but the CDC admits (because its approach is more passive) that its totals very much understate the actual number of abortions that take place.
Also, because Guttmacher’s analyses are treated almost like gospel by the media, what they say—or imply—is the reason abortion numbers rise or fall can shape (distort, in our view) the subsequent discussion.
When you read the stories about the report, you keep coming across some version of the statement that Guttmacher doesn’t offer an explanation for why there were about 1.06 million abortions in 2011, a drop of 13% since 2008 and 550,000 fewer abortions than the high water mark of 1.6 million in 1990. But clearly they have, shall we say, strong suspicions. Let’s see what they are and whether pro-life explanations make more sense.
Guttmacher’s explanations include “nearly foolproof long-term contraceptives like intrauterine devices” (as the New York Times put it), and the effect of the recession (“Presumably,“ Rachel K. Jones and Jenna Jerman write, because of “economic uncertainty,” “more women and couples were making conscious decisions to avoid pregnancy and so resumed or continued using contraceptives”). As we have written previously, there were some quiet admissions on Guttmacher’s part that protective pro-life laws may have played some minor, minor role.
But clearly laws—and other pro-life initiatives—played a much larger role in explaining why there was a resumption in the long-term decline in the number of abortions which had (in Jones’s and Jerman’s words) “leveled off because 2005 and 2008.”
Here are some reasons why.
Writing on Mercartor.net., Prof. Priscilla Coleman notes that “The authors assume that certain types of laws are unlikely to affect the numbers.” (They cite laws enacted in Louisiana and Missouri.) Coleman then explains why, in fact, they would and did decrease.
For example, if you look at the declines in the abortion rate in those two states, the drops are much higher than the national average. Clearly, the laws did have a impact. And, by the way, Guttmacher ignores laws that don’t fit their idea of what matters, such as laws which help women-helping centers.
Coleman also addresses the impact of large number of pro-life initiatives passed, which Guttmacher dismisses because there also was a decline in the number of abortions in states that did not pass such initiatives. She writes
“However, this simplistic argument does not take into consideration the fact that the record number of regulations, which have often been quite contentious, have received an enormous amount of national media attention with psychological effects surely crossing state lines.
“Moreover, it is quite likely that the increased efforts made by the majority of US states to effectively regulate and protect women from poor medical decisions, is a reflection of a culture that has grown to understand the complexities of abortion and the numerous adverse consequences it often brings to women, families, and society.”
If you take a step back, you realize that the views of the Abortion Industry lack depth because they view pro-life initiatives through one eye, so to speak. Every pro-life law can only be seen as making abortions more difficult to obtain.
But to the unbiased observer—seeing with both eyes—these laws can best be understood as making it easier for the woman to choose life.
THAT is what drives the Planned Parenthoods and the Guttmacher Institutes crazy: that the raceway to death could have speed bumps. Once women in crisis pregnancies slow down—because of parental involvement laws, or seeing ultrasounds, or obtaining unbiased explanations of their unborn child’s development, or 24 (or more) hours to reflect–more will choose life.
And that is also why pro-abortionists so desperately fear the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. What if most people grasped that by 20 weeks, the preborn experience pain? What would their attitude be toward the little ones whose life is snuffed out when the abortionist cuts them to pieces or poisons them or induces premature delivery and then slits their spinal cords?
One other crucially important point. The genius of the Pro-Life Movement is that it is like a house with many rooms. National Right to Life proposes and enacts state and federal legislation, its PAC elects pro-life candidates (often against overwhelming odds), it organizes affiliates in all 50 states, and in many and varied ways it educates the public to the humanity of the unborn child and the tragedy that is abortion.
The latter is one instance of what might be called “soft” power, although everything NRLC does ultimately is a reflection of persuasion. What the Guttmachers of this world fail to see—maybe cannot see would be more accurate—is the difference it makes that our Movement is the ultimate grassroots movement.
That means that pro-lifers are busy everywhere. This does have an impact, both where they live and collectively.
It shows the public we are not the devils the media often insists we are, but regular folks.
When women-helping centers give women genuine alternatives, over time the message sinks in: pro-lifers care about the unborn child and her mother
And because more and more young people are identifying with the cause of life, the face of the Movement is not the stereotype the mainstream media so often paints. You cannot exaggerate how important this is.
We’ll be talking further about “Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2011” today and in the next couple of days. Stay tuned.