Sunday, August 24, 2008

Abortion: The New Hip Birth Control

I was looking up some stats on Nation Master and as is often the case the data they have is amazing so you get lost. I was originally looking up some other health statistics, but then I saw a link to abortion and curiosity got the best of me and so I asked myself "who has the most abortions?" Based on a per capita basis it is Russia (ironically the country that has such birthing and demographic trends it will cease to exist in 50 years) with a shockingly high 19 abortions per thousand people.

I then saw below a link to another chart, Abortions per 1,000 births. ie-for every 1,000 births how many abortions were there. Thinking it would be around 10-19 or so like the abortion rate I was shocked to find the average was around 223 in the US (state data only was provided) and an amazing 706 abortions per 1,000 births in our beloved capital, Washington, D.C. ie-on average 12% of pregnancies in the US end in abortion and in DC over a third.

Now I genuinely have no skin in the abortion debate one way or another and if anything I am tacitly pro-choice (for reasons we shan't delve into here). But even though I am pro-choice, with 706 abortions per 1,000 births, it doesn't seem like abortion is being used as a desperate last resort, it seems it's almost the first line, conventional form of birth control. What appalls me about this is whether you're pro-choice or pro-life, you have to admit it is not "desired" to kill something that could feasibly be a human life. ie-that abortion is something you try to avoid and only use as a last measure. But apparently, a lot of people have no moral qualms or problems with having abortions. That there's no thought given to "gee, I don't know if it really is a human life. You know, maybe I should go on birth control or something so I never have to make the decision to have an abortion in the first place." Alas, this is not the case in DC and a couple other places where abortion just seems to be as morally equivalent to getting a tetanus shot. And dare I speculate, a much more expensive form of birth control than a condom?


Ed Kohler said...

Some proactivity could go a long way here. The CDC has some much more data on this topic. One that stood out to me was the incredibly high ratio among women under 15.

It makes me wonder why people oppose teaching JR high children about sex. They're doing it anyway so maybe we should let them know something about the consequences?

randian said...

Are abortions subsidized in DC and Russia?

Captain Capitalism said...

Ed, Agreed, and those were some pretty depressing charts.

Radian, I don't know. I presume in DC, everything's subsidized there.

Marina Martin said...

This brings up a side argument: are children the property of their parents until they turn 18?

The [very tiny] part of me that still has some faith in humanity would like to believe that with the right education and *access* there would be a lot fewer unplanned pregnancies in general. I have to imagine many of my female peers back when I was 14 would have jumped on the chance to get a Mirena IUD (lasts 5yrs, quick office visit insertion, statistically more effective than surgical sterilization, + 90% of females don't have a period while it's in -- a huge plus for teens!) but I can't imagine any of their parents would have allowed it.

(Interestingly, a Mirena out-of-pocket is $600, same as 5yrs of $10 co-pays on birth control pills, but more effective + no human error. Most insurances cover it, too.)

I think Planned Parenthood is truly one of the greatest resources out there and I try to give as much as I can.

Ryan Fuller said...

Every time I see a comparison of anything that could be considered evil, depraved, or otherwise undesirable, Washington DC always tops the list.

boinky said...

Um, Ed, abortions on 14 year olds allow the sexual predators that got them pregnant to get away with it.

About half these girls get pregnant with boyfriends their own age (and often, after they are forced to abort the kid because their own parents want to protect them)Alas, they then go out and get pregnant again because they wanted a kid...

but about half these girls are the victims of predators who know 14 year olds are fresh meat and easy to seduce...put a few of these guys in jail and you'll see the abortion rate go down.

Alas, some of these predators "help" the girl get abortion without their parents knowing about it...and the abortionist doesn't bother to report him...

HeatherRadish said...

What consequences? The nice folks at Planned Parenthood make the consequences go away, and if you're that young, you don't have to pay a dime. They'll even lie about your age so the father doesn't get charged with statutory rape.

Also, measuring "abortions per 1000 people" is interesting, since out of any random 1000 people, more than half are incapable of becoming pregnant for age/gender reasons.... Would be more useful--and even bigger numbers--to measure abortions per "1000 women age 10-50" or even "abortions per live birth."

marginalizedactiondinosaur said...

Now I genuinely have no skin in the abortion debate one way or another and if anything I am tacitly pro-choice

when you are old and in hospital you might want some young people around to tend to you though. However I think it's an unfair burden to give the young. Why do they all want to take care of geriatrics when they are in their 20's.

I've always thought people who, don't have any children or don't pay taxes should be at the back of the line when it comes to health care just throw them off a hill so to speak. Russia might pick up on that soon. There I think I can say Stalin successfully destroyed the family.

Those who don't want to contribute to the system should be removed from the system.

Ed Kohler said...

boinky, are you suggesting that girls under 15 who are raped should be required to carry their rapist's child to term?

As for everything else you wrote, how about backing up some of your statements with a link or two?

Rob Miller, Ph.D. said...

Excellent data analysis and I agree with your point completely.

Leave it to a radical pro-abortionist commenter to raise the issue of rape, which accounts for fewer than 2 percent of all abortions (statistically) and probably fewer still in reality (some of the women likely lied about being raped to save face). Clearly they bring it up because it poses the most difficult and contentious moral dilemma. If we eliminated the 98% of abortions used as birth control, I'd feel better about the other 2%.

Have you read the Levitt/Donahue paper on abortion reducing crime rates? I don't agree with their conclusion, but it's fascinating reading. Their thesis is that legal abortion is most prevalent among the cohort of people most likely to commit crimes. My own data analysis however shows that the relative size of the incarcerated population is the largest explanatory factor for a drop in crime in the 1990's.

I attended a lecture by Mark Steyn a couple of years ago. He raised the same issues you did about abortion in Russia. I recall he said that abortions outnumbered live births among ethnic Russians but muslims in Russia were breeding at a much faster rate. He predicted catastrophic social collapse in Russia. I think you'd like reading his stuff.

I'm profoundly opposed to abortion. My views were not formed by religion, but in my biology class. A human embryo is alive by the generally accepted definition of life. It is also distinctly human with 23 human chromosomal pairs. It is merely a human at an early stage of development. I'm a libertarian who believes in individual rights, but a woman's right to evacuate her uterus ends when that space is occupied by another human (with her consent).

Nevertheless, I think that abortion will disappear in our lifetime. Advances in birth control will likely make it largely unnecessary and once it is no longer profitable, the clinics will close. At least that's my hope.

BTW, in addition to opposing embryonic stem cell research on moral grounds, it is clearly an enormous transfer of funds to abortion clinics to keep them profitable and open. They provide the biological material purchased with billions in government funds.

It's not science - it's a huge government transfer program.

randian said...

Those who don't want to contribute to the system should be removed from the system.

Be careful what you wish for, because many of us would gladly take that deal. If I had the opportunity to avoid Social Security taxes in return for being ineligible for Social Security and Medicare I would jump on that in a nanosecond.

Alex said...

"What appalls me about this is whether you're pro-choice or pro-life, you have to admit it is not "desired" to kill something that could feasibly be a human life. ie-that abortion is something you try to avoid and only use as a last measure."

I agree that it should be a last resort, but I'm not sure why it appalls you. Being bothered by abortions makes no sense unless you take the stance that a foetus is a human being from the moment of conception. Otherwise, there's no difference between getting an abortion and using a condom (or jerking off into a sock).

As for the statistics - they're not that surprising. If the average woman gives birth to 2 children, then these statistics show that even in the worst districts the average woman has less than 2 abortions in her lifetime. If we assume sex only 2 times a week for 40 years, that gives you more than 4,000 sexual encounters, with less than two abortions.

If anything, I'm surprised the number is so LOW.

Capitalist Pig said...

Remember there is a difference between being "pro-abortion" and "pro-choice." Like how being pro-2nd Amendment doesn't mean pro-killing.

Me personally, I am in general pro-choice for the first trim-mester. After that, I am pro-life. If you want an abortion, get it then.

BTW, Rob Miller, are you an Army Special Forces soldier (I ask because of your avatar). If so, a good website is

Ryan Fuller said...

Or you could take the most offensive position you can think of: always against abortions, always in favor of killing babies.

Larry Rasczak said...

I would speculate that one of the reasons the abortion rate is so high in Russia is that 75 years of forced atheisim has destroyed the institutions that are most strongly pro-life, the Churches.

No churches = no pro-life movement = no crisis pregnancy centers, no birthright, etc. Besides if nobody in your family has gone to church since 1917, you aren't likely to feel any moral pressure against abortion.

As for D.C....I don't believe it is subsidized...the ablity of Medicaid to pay for abortions flips back and forth with who is in controll of Congress and the White House, but last time I checked they were still banned from doing so...though that will likely change in the early weeks of the Obama administration.

I would tie the high abortion rate in D.C. to the fact that a black american who is pregnant is almost five times (4.8 times to be exact) more likely to get an abortion than a white american who is pregnant. (Look here The article is on the bottom of last page of the newsletter so you have to page down, but it sites the Wall Street Journal and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece.)

In any case the African-American community has long been targeted by Planned Parenthood. Margaret Sanger was quite up front in her pro-eugenics views...(she called her abortion advocacy "The Negro Project" and once addressed a KKK rally in New Jersey).

The "fewer black people the better" agendia is very much unspoken these days, but it seems to be alive and well none-the-less. A few months ago a pro-life student group called up Planned Parenthood Offices and tried to make donations specifically targeted towards abortions for racial minorities, saying "the fewer black kids the better'. PP was happy to take the money till they got caught, and once it got onto Fox News and the internet they made a huge stink about it. The tape of the call was up on Youtube till it got taken down ("terms of use violation") but you can see it here.

That's one of the reasons you see Planned Parenthood clinics overwhelmingly located in the inner city...(Though in P.P.'s defense I'd assume that NIMBY also has something to do with that, and I would speculate that at least some rich white suburban people may get their abortions done at an OB/GYN's office rather than taking the bus downtown).

In any case, the data I have implies that the reason you see such a high rate in D.C. is that D.C. is overwhelmingly Black, and Planned Parenthood...well they seem to engage in "racial profiling" when it comes to their services.

BTW to Ed and boinky...boinky is right about the "abortions on 14 year olds allow the sexual predators that got them pregnant to get away with it." Although boinky, I don't think they get pregnant again because they want a many cases they don't have a lot of choice because the predator is their Dad, or in more cases "Mom's Boyfriend", or some other person in their immediate enviornment. I think you are corrct that if P.P. stopped covering these situatons up, we could put more of these guys in jail where they belong.

Alex said...

"I would speculate that one of the reasons the abortion rate is so high in Russia is that 75 years of forced atheisim has destroyed the institutions that are most strongly pro-life, the Churches."

Ah, yes, the typical recourse of the religious zealot - when in doubt, blame Atheism!

You may want to do a bit of research first. Start here:

L.J. Brooks said...

Interesting data. Could yopou please post the URl where you found the jpegs? I'm interested in checking what they have good-old socialist Canada. I was surprised that according to the first slide, Canada' abortion rate is half of the US. I would have thought it was the other way around.

I quick note on Russia. Not only does it have one of the highest abortion rates in the world, but as Mark Steyn has pointed out, it has one of the lowest life expectancy rates going (Bangladesh levels or worst). High abortion rates and low life expectancy rates is not a good combination if you expect to survive.

Anonymous said...

Gentlemen.... your morals aside... shouldn't we be most concerned about GDP per capita? Don't abortions help increase GDP per capita by helping poors not repeat the cycle of poverty?

From a taxpaying perspective... wouldn't you rather pay $300 in taxes to abort that prole, than $400 a month for 18 years of welfare/subsidies to raise it?

Anonymous said...

Let me start off by saying that while I'm personally pro-life, I'm politially pro-choice and firmly beleive that there should be no limits on abortion.
However, I am of the opinion that if you are really against abortion, rather than working to out law it or some such crap, you should work toward making in unnecessary (ie explain to your nieces or nephews how to prevent pregnancy, mentor some young girl, etc.)
What I can never get over, though, is the whole abstinence only education crap we got it high school. The fact that 10% of my senior class was pregnant showed how effective that was.
Plus, the president getting up and saying that teenagers shouldn't be having sex. Hello, my mother and both of my grandmothers were all married before their 20th birthdays (and not because they were pregnant) This is very common in most of the world. So, simply because they are teenagers, they should wait until they turn 20 to consummate their marriages!?
What a load of crap!!!!


Anonymous said...

One problem that often gets ignored in the abortion debate is how relatively ineffectual available birth control is. Most methods, even those with a high effectiveness (usually expressed as failure--the percentage of pregnancies resulting from use of a method after a year of use.) assumes perfect use. And there is no such thing as perfect use even among intelligent adults. About half of pregnancies in this country are unplanned. (Check out the book, Contraceptive Technology, for these facts. It is THE source for health care professionals dealing with reproduction issues--OBs, etc.) When you consider that, our abortion rate actually seems low. Keep in mind that the abortion rate is lowest than it's been in the 30 years since it was made legal. This from Time Magazine:
"According to the Guttmacher Institute's 2005 survey of abortion providers, the abortion rate fell 9% in five years, to 19.4 abortions for every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44; the 1.2 million abortions performed in 2005 numbered 25% fewer than the high of 1.6 million in 1990." See:,8599,1705604,00.html.
Just maybe we don't have an abortion crises.