Friday, March 10, 2006

Correction: Abortions Did NOT Increase after George W. Took Office

In two posts about abortion this week, I quoted an article which said:

Abortion rates fell during pro-choice President Bill Clinton’s administration by 17.4 percent. Abortion rates have risen under “pro-life” president George W. Bush by 14.6 percent.

Random didn't buy it and could not find the source of that statistic.

In fact, after researching it myself, I found the page on the subject and they have this to say:

A number of politicians and organizations have been circulating an interesting and surprising idea: that abortions have gone up under George W. Bush’s watch. The claim is repeated by supporters of abortion rights as evidence that Bush's anti-abortion policies have backfired, or at least been ineffective.

But the claim is untrue. In fact, according to the respected Alan Guttmacher Institute, a 20-year decline in abortion rates continued after Bush took office...

So where did this idea come from?

The claim that abortions are rising again can be traced back to an opinion piece by Glen Harold Stassen, an ethics professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. His article originally appeared in a web and e-mail publication of Sojourners, a Christian magazine, in October 2004. Several other outlets, including the Houston Chronicle, also ran a similar piece co-authored by Stassen and journalist Gary Krane. The articles generated a good deal of discussion on a number of both liberal and conservative blogs.

Describing himself as “consistently pro-life,” Stassen reported that he “analyzed the data on abortion during the Bush presidency” and reached some “disturbing” conclusions. "Under President Bush, the decade-long trend of declining abortion rates appears to have reversed," he said. "Given the trends of the 1990s, 52,000 more abortions occurred in the United States in 2002 than would have been expected before this change of direction."

Stassen's broad conclusion wasn't justified by the sketchy information he cited, however. Furthermore, a primary organization he cited specifically as a source for historical data now contradicts him, saying abortions have continued to decline since Bush took office. More about that later.

And where is that 14.6% number from?

According to Stassen, "Eight states saw an increase in abortion rates (14.6 percent average increase), and five saw a decrease (4.3 percent average)." A version of the piece in the Houston Chronicle reported instead that four saw a decrease with a 4.3 percent average.

I apologize for quoting the article without doing a quick Google search to check the figures.


Laura said...

We'll forgive you this time...

Random said...

Thanks for taking me up on that:-) I'm a bit of a math nerd i'm afraid, so I always like to understand where numbers come from...

asher said...

It's not your fault. The news media is in love with any statistic that puts down Pres. Bush in any capacity. Don't you remember those wonderful reports from New Orleans with the "thousands of bodies floating in the floods" or the "many dead bodies just lying around awaiting to be picked up" and there being no evidence that any of it ever happened.

Statistics are more fun when they bolster your argument. Who cares if they are true?

Laura said...

Asher: Both sides of the political divide are just as guilty. When poll numbers are in his favor, The Bushis cites them to show he's doing what the people want. When they're not in his favor, then they say polls aren't important.

Personally, I agree with you that it's the fault of the media. The news media these days is a joke, on both sides - because they're more interested in the advertising revenue than putting forth real news and ideas. And also because all our news outlets are run by the same 10 (or fewer) companies.

Sadie Lou said...

Good job, Random and JA. I'm impressed.