Shocker: Abortions Decline As Contraception Use Increases

Shocking perhaps no one, and sending the perpetually frustrated anti-choice Right into a bout of non-soul-searching, new data released by the government this week shows that abortions have fallen five percent while at the same time use of contraception has increased.

NEW YORK - U.S. abortions fell 5 percent during the Great Recession in the biggest one-year decrease in at least a decade, according to government figures released Wednesday. [...]

By all accounts, contraception is playing a role in lowering the numbers.

Some cite a government study released earlier this year suggesting that about 60 percent of teenage girls who have sex use the most effective kinds of contraception, including the pill and patch. That's up from the mid-1990s, when fewer than half were using the best kinds.

Experts also pointed to the growing use of IUDs. The IUD, or intrauterine device, is a T-shaped plastic sperm-killer that a doctor inserts into a woman's uterus. A Guttmacher Institute study earlier this year showed that IUD use among sexually active women on birth control rose from under 3 percent in 2002 to more than 8 percent in 2009.

IUDs essentially prevent "user error," said Rachel Jones, a Guttmacher researcher.

Ananat said another factor for the abortion decline may be the growing use of the morning-after pill, a form of emergency contraception that has been increasingly easier to get. It came onto the market in 1999 and in 2006 was approved for non-prescription sale to women 18 and older. In 2009 the age was lowered to 17.

Is increased use of contraception a result of a poor economy? The question is a misnomer, because reproductive freedom is economic freedom. And without that freedom, the rate of abortion may not have decreased.

Unfortunately those who typically oppose abortion in all cases also oppose easier access to contraception even though it decreases the number of abortions. And in the case of the morning-after pill, the toughest critics describe it as an "abortifacient."

Nowhere is the cognitive dissonance greater than inside the Catholic church, which as you read this is still engaged in a campaign to fight the Department of Health and Human Services' contraception mandate.

Could it be that they aren't as concerned about abortion as they are the idea of women having as much social and economic freedom as men do? In the face of an increasingly-large mountain of evidence that access to contraception reduces abortions, their campaign to deny women access appears more and more like a reflection of Rush Limbaugh's now infamous "slut" rant.

The numbers released this week do not reflect the effect Obamacare will have on the rate of abortion, but if current trends continue, we can expect the number to further decrease and possibly at an even greater rate than before.

Regardless of how low the rate of abortion becomes in the near future as the means to prevent unwanted pregnancy become ubiquitous, it should remain legal and affordable for those who need it.

  • Nathan_of_Legio_XIV

    Mr. Cesca,

    To begin, I’m a big fan and have been reading your blog daily for some years, beginning with your pieces on Huff Post.

    I am pro-choice and though I daily drift closer to the Catholic Church, I remain so. My fiancee and I discuss abortion often. Over all the years of supporting a woman’s right to choose, I have never believed that abortion is, in itself, a good thing. Or anything but a horror, for that matter. My position is one of constitutionality and efficacy. The federal government was never given the power to regulate this, nor does it fall under Necessary and Proper. In addition, after almost half a century of screaming about this topic, the pro-life movement has accomplished little. I don’t think that anyone is happy when a fetus is aborted (at least I have never heard of nor met them). In my mind, the best way to stop abortion is to incentivize children. This means healthcare, and lots of it.

    I am constantly pained by the loudest among us: “murderers,” “God’s plan,” “legitimate rape,” I hear them scream. This accomplishes nothing but entrenching the opposition. Tactically moronic.

    But they’re not the only ones. “Non-soul-searching?” Really, sir? It was small, but it stuck in my eye. I believe it comes down to purpose, vocation. Are you a screecher? Or do you wish to further conversation and accomplish something for humanity? I’ve heard many reporters over the years defend their actions and words with “my job is to report, not judge,” but is that really their role? Is it yours?

    To drift into theology for a moment: every human has a soul and to claim differently is, at best, moot and, at worst, paints you the same color as those against whom you argue.

    You have a following and, therefore, a responsibility. How many of your readers read that line and said: “Yeah, they’re soulless!” Does that help? Will they now further understanding and work towards the Good? One commented on this post with: “Right wingers want to ban abortion and birth control so that white women will have more children and they will always be the majority. It is the same reason why the Pope is against birth control. It is that simple, everything else is bull.” It sounds like he knows everything already. It sounds like the last thing he wants is a conversation. It sounds like he’s one of the people you argue against, yet he is YOUR fan. Your words affect him, and that is the conclusion at which he has arrived. Another closed mind: just what our world needs.

    The Catholic Church is not drifting into Limbaugh territory. They provide aid for pregnant mothers and women who have had an abortion. They hold peaceful prayer vigils in front of clinics. Some hold horror-placards, but the Church does not endorse it. They fight the mandate because they truly believe it infringes on their religious rights. They are against contraception for religious, moral, and social reaons, not because they are scientifically illiterate. They not only encourage, but demand that their followers question teaching and think for themselves; to leave our God-given reason unused is a sin in itself. I argue that, if the Church had been more vocal in support of healthcare reform, the mandate would be unnecessary. But they have the right to fight it, and that is a much bigger point than I wish to make here.

    I read a Catholic nun’s treatise on the pro-life movement, labeling it ‘pro-birth.’ A Catholic nun. The argument is about responsibility and the morals of civilization. Does easy and universal access to birth control encourage people to have sex more often and more irresponsibly? A conversation worth having.

    It is the conversation, sir. That is what is all-important in a democratic institution. While the electorate can be infuriating, they must be convinced, not shut out. You have a bigger voice than most in this world, indeed bigger than the vast majority of humanity throughout all history. Will you use it to fling invective, or to help your fellow Man? Will you inspire you readers to action or, at least, meaningful conversation? Will you encourage thought? Will you press for reason and reflection?

    I remain a solid fan of yours. I love your writing and most of your points. I try to unravel some of your arguments and find it to be excellent mental exercise. But what will you do? Those who respond to your posts reflect, even if just a little, the effect of your words. Always aim for the Good, sir, and not just the Win.

    I hope you and yours had a marvelous Thanksgiving and continue in good health.

    • bphoon

      I disagree that the Roman Catholic (there are Catholics other than Roman) Church “isn’t drifting into Limbaugh territory”. Elements of that church have been there for years. True, some conduct peaceful prayer vigils (a practice I personally find rather condescending and presumptious) but, in my experience, more hold horror placards. If the church doesn’t endorse it they certainly don’t seem to object very strongly. In fact, I have personally observed local church officials exhorting protestors to more aggressive action.

      When church officials withhold communion from parishoners for taking a pricipled stand against church doctrine, they’re in Limbaugh territory. When they presume to condemn an entire segment of our population to hell for their beliefs, they’re in Limbaugh territory, in my humble opinion.

      The church would serve itself and its communicants better if it took a longer look at itself and worked at getting better at pro-actively taking responsibility for the sins it has committed.

  • peterjohn936

    Right wingers want to ban abortion and birth control so that white women will have more children and they will always be the majority. It is the same reason why the Pope is against birth control. It is that simple, everything else is bull.

    • KanaW

      I used to think so, but they’re also refusing birth control and abortion to minorities.

      • MrDHalen

        That’s because they’re more likely to not be able to afford them anyway; whereas white women in better situations can afford birth control and an abortion if needed.

        @peterjohn936 This is the most logical reason I can think of when it comes to this issue. Pure numbers and maintaining a majority.

  • rob black

    Real world “freakonomics” strikes again.

  • zirgar

    Here’s what chaps my bounteous ass: right wingers claim to be against abortion, but they sure do everything in their power to put a woman in the position where abortion becomes her only option.

    • KanaW

      And then they refuse that option, which leaves her literally ‘holding the baby’.

      That’s their plan. It’s not about life at all. It’s about power as an end unto itself.

    • BD

      In what way does an individual which opposes abortion “put a woman in the position where abortion becomes her only option”?
      Does that “right winger” force a women to have unprotected sex?
      I hope you do not imply that because there are those which wish not to be robbed to finance this illusionary “free birth control”, that they are the result of unplanned pregnancies. If one is responsible enough to make the choice of who they may fornicate with, then they should be responsible enough to choose a form of contraception.
      Always someone to blame for others mistakes.

      • IrishGrrrl

        If one is responsible enough to make the choice of who they may fornicate with, then they should be responsible enough to choose a form of contraception.

        Did you read the post at all? Most abortion opponents also oppose the use of contraception. Take away a woman’s contraception, her odds of having an unwanted pregnancy increase. As the odds of having an unwanted pregnancy increase, so do the odds of her needing an abortion. So, if they take away contraception, what choice does the woman have? Lead a celibate life or take a chance and get pregnant? That viewpoint brings us right back to “women are sluts” mindset. Oh heaven forfend they want to have sex! Cue the fainting couches.

        I think the logic is pretty sound there and why you don’t get it is beyond me. If conservatives are truly pro-life then they should be pro-contraception. Women would have more options than the old fashioned forced dichotomy of “slut or nun”. Women would be more likely to work (reproductive freedom is directly tied to economic freedom). There would be fewer abortions. And, those pregnancies that do come to term would be more wanted and the family or woman would be in better financial shape (again, reproductive freedom = economic freedom).

        And finally, you assume that all unwanted pregnancies are the result of poor planning. Well, rape victims don’t plan on being raped. Incest victims don’t plan on it. Many women are on the pill and still get pregnant…it’s not 100% effective, even when taken properly. Sometimes a condom breaks….shit happens. So there is only so much planning a woman can do. Yet somehow it’s ALL on her. No mention of the guy using contraception or his responsibility in these scenarios….typical conservative BS.

        • BD

          “Most abortion opponents also oppose the use of contraception”
          Please give me the statistic which “most” oppose contraception. I find it hard to believe that a majority of these opponents are opponents of contraception.

          “reproductive freedom = economic freedom”
          This is slogan based rhetoric. If you believe in economic freedom, then why would you contradict such a position with the belief that a government should provide contraception through a “Department of Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate”? Why must a group of criminals mandate any product or service to be provided against their will.
          No one is preventing women from getting contraceptive products, and the article clearly states that it has become increasingly easier for women to do so. There’s your economic and social freedom right there!
          The problem is that the article states in a deceptive manner that the Catholic Church (to which I am no fan of) conducts a “campaign to deny women access”. There is no ability for an organization or individual to “deny” anyone contraception. What they do not wish to freely state is that the organization does not wish to be forced/coerced into providing a product they are ethically opposed to.
          You seem to be caught up in this mindset that the government has the legitimate right to force others to fund the lifestyles of others. Why stop at contraception. I need a new front tire, and if I spout off some rhetoric to the position that “as an American I have the right to travel”, and therefore someone else in this collectivist hellhole should buy me a new tire.
          No one is denying women any rights. There is a group of people who continually wish to rob from everyone so as to create some form of equality which they deem suitable for a just society. In the meantime, it is the very criminals which rob us all that hand out such schemes for a just society, all at the barrel of a gun.
          How about this, stop complaining because someone did not give someone something, and wake up to the fact that some are being taken from for agendas which cater to the wants of others.

  • Constant Comment

    Policies enacted by “pro-life” legislators have little to do with fetuses and everything to do with the disempowerment of women, which is why the right wing is not interested in logic or facts.

  • KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker

    Factual education about human sexuality and unrestricted access to proper healthcare actually reduced abortions ?!?
    Now whodathunk?