Preventing Abortion : Contraception More Successful than Laws

Sign in Katmandu, Nepal: “Safe Abortion Service avbailable. From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday to Friday. Charge 1,000 rupees.” The hospital is run by the government. Photo by Binod Joshi / AP.

Guttmacher survey of 197 countries:
Making abortion illegal doesn’t mean fewer abortions

The way to lower (and someday hopefully eliminate) abortion is to teach real sex education and encourage the use of contraceptives.

By Ted McLaughlin / The Rag Blog / October 14, 2009

Fundamentalists live in a very simple world. They believe they can prevent teens from having sex by refusing to provide them with real sex education. They also believe they can prevent abortions by simply banning legal abortions.

It has recently been shown that teaching “abstinence only” does not prevent teen sex, but it does increase the number of teen pregnancies by preventing the use of contraceptive methods. Now there is a new study that shows banning abortions does not decrease the number of abortions.

The Guttmacher Institute did a survey of 197 countries regarding abortion. They found “roughly equal rates” of women seeking abortions in both countries with legal abortion and countries that had banned abortions. In other words, banning abortion not only didn’t eliminate abortions, it didn’t even lower the number of abortions.

In countries without legal abortion, women just go to a country where it is legal (as Irish women go to Europe) or they seek illegal (and dangerous) abortions (as women in Africa and South America do). In fact, illegal abortions kill at least 70,000 women each year — leaving nearly a quarter of a million children without mothers. Another 5 million women develop serious complications.

Oddly enough, there is a proven way to lower the rate of abortions — contraception. The Guttmacher Institute found that there were 45.5 million abortions in 1995. By 2003, that number had dropped to 41.6 million in spite of an increase in population. The change is due to a wider use of contraceptive methods.

Just look at what contraception has done in the Netherlands — where abortion is legal and contraceptive use is encouraged and taught. Worldwide, the abortion rate is about 29 per 1000 people, but in the Netherlands it is only 10 per 1000 people. Young people there commonly use two forms of contraception, and that has radically lowered the abortion rate.

The facts are clear. If you hate abortion and want to eliminate it, banning abortion will not do it. That will only kill and seriously injure many women. The way to lower (and someday hopefully eliminate) abortion is to teach real sex education and encourage the use of contraceptives.

No one likes abortion. It just can’t be eliminated by simplistic thinking or laws.

[Rag Blog contributor Ted McLaughlin also posts at jobsanger.]

The Rag Blog

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9 Responses to Preventing Abortion : Contraception More Successful than Laws

  1. I don’t pretend to speak for fundamentalists, even though I am one and a fiscal conservative to boot. But for this post, I will be the fundamentalist foil (or whipping boy, depending on what comments you leave 🙂

    Teds lack of understanding about fundamentalist motivations is clearly seen in the picture he chose for this article. “Safe Abortion Service available Who wouldn’t want safe abortion services? How about the child about to forfeit his/her life! Ted fails to understand that abortion is not the issue. Abortion is a medical procedure. I am all for safe medical procedures. But abortion is a response, not a cause.

    The killing of a child that is alive in the womb of a mother IS the issue. I am not for that. It is unavoidable at times, but when it can be avoided it should be and in the case of most abortions it can be. I look at it from the perspective of defending those who have no voice and no choice (that sort of sounds like the argument Progressives use when demanding more “social justice” … doesn’t it 🙂

    Ted does a decent job of providing stats and facts about what laws and policies work to reduce abortion. But he reaches a meaningless conclusion. No one likes abortion. It just can’t be eliminated by simplistic thinking or laws. I may be simplistic (I hope so) but the debate over laws vs contraception only exists because the real cause of abortions is rarely discussed. The debate is a smoke screen that abortion advocates use to keep from talking about the one issue they really don’t like talking about. It’s a magicians trick, a sleight of hand.

    You wanna know the best way to reduce abortions? Stop promoting a culture where personal responsibility is just a quaint notion! I could wear out my keyboard listing Progressive efforts to eradicate personal responsible from our culture. (note to self, that might make a good blog post, just get a spare kbd 🙂

    I do care when people who make a choice to be sexually active and create an unwanted pregnancy as a result, then seek to have the child in the womb pay for their inconvenience with its death. The fact that they have done a really good job of eliminating personal responsibility in the Netherlands should be a cause for shame, not congratulations.

    It’s as simple as that. Be responsible for your own choices and abortions, except in limited cases, would no longer exist.

    Short form of this message “Own your own crap!”

  2. masterspork says:

    I am going to have to disagree with you on this one DHS. I understand that one should be responsible for their actions, but I have known many people that where affect by this. (Having trouble trying to focus how to word my thoughts)

    First things comes to mind is about the “abstinence only” method of teaching sex ed is not working. Like anything teaching about contraceptive methods will only work if you use them and/or activity ignore them. But because there will be people that will disregard the advice about having sex while a teen, but this will help reduce the number of teen pregnancies. But there is the view that teaching these to teens is promoting sex among teens. They are going to have sex regardless of what is said. Not to mention help stop the spread of STDs.

    Still I think the main this is that makes this a charged subject is that people seem to lose interest once the baby is born. Because what happens if one person leaves the other with taking care of the baby? Then what? Just remember that nothing is impossible/hard to the person that does not have to do it.

    On the flip side abortion is a serious issue and should viewed as birth control. It affects people physically and emotionally. So when I see people at different events acting proud that they got a abortion is wrong on so many levels. Is it necessary, yes. Something to be happy about, no.

    This is a issue that affects all of us and both sides really need to put their pride aside to work on finding a solution.

  3. masterspork says:

    Good lord, my lest post is a mess with wording errors.

    Should read as:

    or not activity ignore them.

    On the flip side abortion is a serious issue and should not beviewed as birth control

  4. I’m wondering if these ‘men’ have ever gone through what women gone through………….

  5. So Happy, are you saying that since women move the child from the womb to the world, that entitles them to decide when and how to end the childs life? That doesn’t make sense.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have three (married) sisters who had unwanted pregnancies while on the pill and one (married) friend who got pregnant on the pill, an IUD and the contraceptive sponge. Except for abstinence, no form of birth control is 100% effective. I couldn’t care less if the women are married or not. Does Extremist to the DHS believe that women at 30, 35, 40 years of age are going to abstain from sex until they want to have a baby? What if they never want one? Do men behave that way? Nobody wants an abortion. But as a woman I can’t image anything more disgusting than having a government OWN a woman’s body for nine months and forcing her to go through a childbirth. Think about it. What if she is 11 years old and dies in childbirth because her birth canal was too small or the Caesarian was botched? Or 49 years old and the child has Down’s Syndrome. Will she still be forced to have it? Will DHS raise it if she is? No, most fundamentalists would rather complain about welfare mothers than take care of their unwanted children. Fundamentalists like to think issues are black and white (remember “you’re either for us or a’gin us?) but non-fundamentalists know it’s a messy, complicated imperfect world.

  7. Richard says:

    In answer to your question “shoud women be the only ones who decide wether or not to have an abortion?”


  8. masterspork says:

    It should be the couple that should talk it out. No just one person.

  9. To DHS and his question to me, I meant exactly what I said (I don't like people trying to change my words or my interpretation – don't try to add meaning to my comment).

    I wonder if 'men' have had to go through what women have had to go through on this issue, and since I believe the men's experiences regarding whether to abort or not to abort, will never match what

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