You probably haven’t heard about the new analysis by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, released Thursday, May 19. The study indicates that both the number of abortions in the U.S. and the abortion rate declined in 2001 and 2002:
The Institute estimates that 1,303,000 abortions took place in the United States in 2001—0.8% fewer than the 1,313,000 in 2000. In 2002, the number of abortions declined again, to 1,293,000, or another 0.8%. The rate of abortion also declined, from 21.3 procedures per 1,000 women aged 15–44 in 2000 to 21.1 in 2001 and 20.9 in 2002.
The full study is available here (.pdf file).
In the wake of the report’s release last week, top Democrats continued to claim that abortions have increased since President Bush took office in January 2001–a claim they have made repeatedly since last fall.
As Hillary Clinton put it on Inside Politics yesterday,
[D]uring the Clinton administration, abortions went down. And they’ve gone back up under the Bush administration. So clearly, what is being done by the current policies are not necessarily working.
Howard Dean made an even more outlandish statement on Meet the Press on Sunday, three days after the Guttmacher analysis was released:
You know that abortions have gone up 25 percent since George Bush was president? … There are not many of us who want to see the abortion rate continue to go up as it has under President Bush.
Neither Inside Politics host Judy Woodruff nor Meet the Press host Tim Russert challenged these unsubstantiated claims.
Do you think the MSM would have ignored the study if it had shown an increase in the number of abortions rather than a decrease?
The bogus claim about rising abortions is apparently based on a discredited analysis of abortions in 16 states by Glenn Stassen, a professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Stassen himself has retracted his original conclusion that abortion increased in 2 of the 16 states he examined (South Dakota and Wisconsin). A third state, Illinois, showed an increase in Stassen’s analysis, but more recent figures show a large decrease. In at least two states, Arizona and Colorado, the increase in abortions reported by Stassen is almost certainly an artifact of improved reporting techniques.
Although the Guttmacher estimates are “subject to some limitations and should be considered provisional,” they are more rigorous than Stassen’s analysis, as even Stassen now concedes.
See also Factcheck.org: The biography of a bad statistic.
– Sen. Hillary Clinton, (202) 224-4451 or (212) 688-6262, e-mail
– Howard Dean, Democratic National Committee, (202) 863-8000, e-mail
– Judy Woodruff, Inside Politics, e-mail
– Timothy Russert, Meet the Press, e-mail
Update: Imago Dei takes a close look at Stassen’s response to the Guttmacher study.
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