Saturday, January 19, 2008

That They Might Choose Life

If other events of the week did little for our collective case of the "blahs," conservatives can take heart in some good news from an unlikely source. A news release describing a recent study from the Guttmacher Institute indicates that the U.S. abortion rate continues its decades-long decline. After peaking at 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women in 1981, the rate of abortions dropped to 19.4 per 1,000 in 2005. To put this in perspective, this is the lowest rate since 1974, the first full year during which women had the "right to choose."

Similarly, the absolute number of abortions has declined significantly over time. The 1.21 million abortions performed in 2005 represent a significant decrease as compared with the 1.31 million performed in 2000, and is 25 percent below the all-time high of 1.6 million abortions in 1990.

And while non-Hispanic white women have the majority of abortions, the rate for African American women remains nearly five times as high as that for whites (
as discussed elsewhere.) The Guttmacher Institute also points out that the abortion rate for women living in poverty is more than four times that of women whose incomes are above 300 percent of the poverty level. (The Institute would also inform us that three-fourths of women who have abortions say they do so because they cannot afford a child.)

All of this would seem to make the case that female immiseration is something of a causative factor driving abortion. Indeed, that is the reasoning presented by bloggers elsewhere.

Since 1980, the pattern of abortion has been trending downwards. The rate fell by almost 10 percentage points since 1980. Although the trend was more or less continuous, the steepest decline occurred during the 1990s. Matching rates of decline to presidential terms is enlightening. During Reagan's eight years, and the first Bush's term, the average abortion rate fell by 0.3 percentage points a year. But under Clinton, this rose to an annual average 0.5 percentage points. Under the second Bush (with the caveat that data only go to 2003), the rate of decline fell by 0.1 percentage points a year, practical standstill.... So, there we have a seeming paradox: the largest decline in abortion took place under the sole Democratic presidential regime over this period. And yet the pro-life movement is strangely silent, and still hitches its wagon to the fortunes of the Republican Party.
Surely the case would seem airtight; women who are least able to deal with the financial burdens associated with an unplanned pregnancy make the "rational" decision to abort. And apparently, during periods of improving financial circumstances, abortion rates have declined. But as I and others have learned the hard way, coincidence is not correlation and correlation is not causation. The argument that poverty is causally linked abortions is a presentist argument that makes sense only in the here and now.

Relative to the wealth that we enjoy at present, poverty has been the norm for most of the history of America. If there were a causal relationship between poverty and abortion rates, it would seem that the there would have been more variability in abortion rates over time to account for the effects of the five recessions that the U.S. has experienced since 1973. Moreover, the areas with the highest rates of abortions in 2005 - Washington, D.C., New York and New Jersey (with 54.2, 38.2 and 34.3 abortions per 1,000 women respectively) - all have higher personal per capita incomes than states such as South Dakota (5.1 per 1,000), Mississippi (4.9 per 1,000) and Kentucky (4.4 per 1,000).

A causal relationship between poverty and abortion would also not explain the phenomenon of repeat abortions. (Presumably, a woman who terminated a pregnancy due to financial hardship might either have worked her way out of penury or taken steps to ensure that no other unplanned pregnancies occurred.)
According to the Guttmacher Institute's own data, as late as 2002, 47-48 percent of abortions were repeat procedures. As their studies indicate, "several patterns are likely to apply" to women who have terminated more than one pregnancy.
Women obtaining repeat abortions are more likely to have never married, and there is evidence that cohabitating women are overrepresented. Women having second or higher-order abortions are more likely to report an increased frequency of sexual activity, thereby increasing their overall risk of pregnancy.
And to do further damage to the supposed poverty-abortion linkage, the report goes on to say:
Associations between income and repeat abortion are inconclusive. One study found repeat abortion to be more common among women with lower socioeconomic status, while another found it to be more common among middle- or higher-class women; a third found no association.
Any relationship between abortion and poverty is that of coincidence; if anything, the availability of legal abortion may be a causative factor leading to poverty among women, as opposed to the other way around (as discussed elsewhere.)

Most likely, both poverty and abortion are related to specific behaviors of poor women.
We are certainly not to accept the progressive argument that the poor have diminished access to contraception, as we are awash in contraceptive choices for all females, irrespective of class. Failing to exercise their rights to practice abstinence, use reliable birth control or otherwise treat themselves with the slightest modicum of self-respect, many impoverished women default to their "right" to terminate the life of the one person who has done the least to harm them - certainly less than they have done to themselves. To be sure, a poverty of material resources is the least that besets these women.

1 comment:

Op Ed said...

I Got What America Needs Right Here
By Jimmy Carter
January 9, 2008 |
The Onion Issue 44•02
Sometimes I'm a little stupid, maybe, a little slow in the head, so I'm wondering if you can help me get something straight. Maybe you can help me understand one fucking thing right now, America, and explain to me what in the Christ is going on here. 'Cause, unless I'm missing something, this country is in the middle of a motherfucking shitstorm, and I have no fucking idea what you're gonna do to get out of it. I mean, are you seriously considering voting for one of these shitbags you got here in '08? Fat fucking chance.
Way I see it, America needs a president who's gonna somehow un-royally screw up the Middle East, do some serious cleaning up after you dropped your pants and took a steaming dump all over the fucking environment, and—boom!—restore dignity, honor, and all that shit to these United States.
See, I got solutions to all your problems—I got 'em right here in my big, hairy ballsack.
You better get down on your hands and knees and kiss Jimmy Carter's rosy-red Georgia-peach-picking ass and beg me to run your fucking country again, because there's no way I'm ever gonna come to you fuck-knobs and politely ask you if I might please be a presidential candidate in your precious fuckin' election. So you can just bite my cock. I've had it with you jerkoffs and your jerkoff candidates.
You actually seem to think one a' these assholes is gonna prance in and wave a magic wand and make everything all nice again. Look at you, sitting there like a common fucking schnook and eating all their bull about bi-fucking-partisanship, and how they have all the goddamn answers. Let me tell you something: These fags are dogshit compared to Jimmy fucking Carter, all right? I was arbitrating Mideast crises when this bunch was still sucking on their mamas' titties.
But who comes to me, huh? Fucking nobody. Why ask old Jimmy anything? What the fuck could he know about peace in the Middle East? It's not like he fucking won the Nobel Peace Prize for that shit. You myopic pricks. Back in '79, I sat Sadat and Begin right down and made those two dicklicks shake hands. It was beautiful—I had all the pieces lined up and I smiled and waved in my best fucking suit and tie right there on TV. And what do you do, you pieces of shit? You screw the whole goddamn pooch.
Oh, what's that I hear? The weather's all screwy? You got a global warming problem? Boo-fucking-hoo! I was telling you morons to turn off your lights and unplug all your shit at night to conserve energy in 19-fuckin'-75, for chrissake. Gee, I wonder what woulda happened if we'd all switched to solar power like I fucking did back when we had a fucking chance to do something about it. Think we'd still be sucking Saudi Arabia's dick like a five-dollar whore? I sure as fuck didn't get no fancy Oscar for that little spiel, though, did I? No. But Al Gore, that cum-sucking pig, steals the shit from me and now he's the greatest thing since Jesus Christ made a fucking sandwich.
Well, he can lick my asshole right after George W. Bush, that fuck.
You want compassion? Somebody who's looking out for the little guy? Why don't you take a look at Jimmy Carter, 'cause unlike, oh, every motherfucking candidate out there, he spent the last fucking quarter-century building houses for the homeless. And what does he get for it? A fucking hernia. Some fucking gratitude, you selfish twats. You talk to me about compassion? I'll shove a crucifix so far up the Democrats' asses they'll be asking me to buy them dinner and kiss them good night.
Funny thing about me: I actually fucking know shit! Not like these goombas trying to weasel their way into the White House. I practically wrote the book on collapsing bridges, inflation, and the working poor, fuck-o. I even got a degree in nuclear engineering or some shit. You know how easy I could swoop down right now like a guardian angel and solve all your fucking problems? Snap. Bam. Do it in my fucking sleep. Just fucking try me.
So you want me to run for president again? Yeah, sure, absolutely, I'll do it. I'd be honored to do it—with my fucking dick in your mouth, you worthless scumbags.
You had your chance with Jimmy Carter, and you fucking blew it. So get fucked. Fucking country.