A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Misleading Statistics

Yesterday I wrote a post about abstinence education. You can read it here.

There you will also find a comment from Rob, who respectfully disagrees with my assertions.

Abortion is one of my biggest issues, and pro-choice advocates often present facts in a manner that best suits their arguments.

I believe abortion is wrong in any case. It is murder. It is immoral.

Rather than answer Rob in the comments section, I thought I would post my reply here.

Rob said,
Teen pregnancy rates dropped significantly from 1988-2000 (the majority of that time, 1992-2000, was under the Clinton Administration, which advocated not only abstinence but teaching birth control/condom use).

Abortion rates dropped in the Clinton years, too. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

Your assertation that teen pregnancy and abortions has increased is incorrect.
First, Rob, please remember that Roe v. Wade was in 1973. Since then, there have been over 40 million abortions in the United States.

According to 2003 statistics from the Census Bureau the US population is not quite 50% male/50% female (don't ask me for the percentages---I'm not a mathematician). I would assume this statistic has stayed pretty steady, though I do not know for sure.

If it has, then that means that over 20 million of those abortions were female babies. That means fewer females to have babies . . . or abort them. That means fewer abortions, since there were fewer females to begin with. Do you follow?

According to the World Almanac and Book of Facts 2005, of which I have a hard copy, the U.S. birthrate has, with some exceptions, steadily declined since Roe v. Wade.

In 1970, the birthrate was 18.4. In 1980 the birthrate was 15.9. In 1990, the birthrate was 16.7 (note, after the Conservative Reagan Revolution). In 1995, it was 14.6. In 2000, it was 14.4. In 2003, the latest statistics, birthrate in the United States was 14.0.

Fewer Americans are being born, which means there are fewer American women to have babies or abortions, which means an abortion rate that has not necessarily gone up.

When I stated that teenage pregnancies and abortion have increased, I was speaking of since Roe v. Wade.

The assertion that the abortion rate has decreased is not true. It only appears abortions have decreased.

According to several sources I have read, including this one,
Official abortion statistics are often low due to incomplete reporting. In the United States, for example, not all states mandate such reporting. Even in those states that require or encourage reporting of abortion statistics, this reporting is incomplete (as demonstrated by higher numbers reported to abortion advocacy organizations). From 1988 to 1997, the total number of U.S. abortions reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control was 11.3% lower than the total number reported to the Alan Guttmacher Institute (the research branch of Planned Parenthood). In 1998 four states discontinued state-level gathering of abortion statistics, contributing to the 25.4% drop in CDC figures from 1997 to 1998.

In contrast, other organizations that provide estimates of abortion statistics may be motivated to inflate the numbers. Currently, the Alan Guttmacher Institute is an important source for estimates of both legal and illegal abortions worldwide. AGI is an extension of an organization engaged in intense political lobbying for the completely unrestrained practice of abortion. High abortion rates are in their political (and financial) interests for a number of reasons. For example, high numbers of illegal abortions are an element of their rationalization for legalized abortion.

Thus, when AGI estimates high rates of illegal abortions in the developing world these estimates bear scrutiny. Many such estimates are based on limited surveys. Some such surveys are limited to urban areas, which are not representative of rural areas. Other studies use compound assumptions to develop a figure for illegal abortions from data on hospitalizations for miscarriages.
Those four states that discontinued gathering state abortion statistics in 1998 are Alaska, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and California.

You can read more about that here.

The CDC attributes the majority of the decrease in reported abortions after 1997 to the absence of California’s data. In 1997, the CDC estimated the number of abortions in California to be 275,700. The CDC acknowledges that the numbers of abortions reported to the agency are probably lower than the actual number performed. The lack of uniform, mandatory abortion reporting for all fifty states hampers the CDC’s ability to accurately report the number of abortion performed in the U.S, as evidenced in the 1998 to 2001 reports.
So, with the big Liberal state of California's statistics missing, there is a decrease in the abortion rate. Of course, as noted, California is a hugely Liberal state and Liberals think it quite alright to murder one's own child, so we must assume California has a highish rate of abortion. In 2000, California had a 30.7% abortion rate. Pretty steep. It was the 9th highest rate.

And, despite claims by some Liberals, the abortion rate has not increased under President Bush's administration. While abortions increased in some states, the rate decreased in others. You can read about it here.

Rob also wrote:
And the idea that only teaching abstinence is the only correct course is statistically proven to be incorrect, too.

A balanced approach, teaching both abstinence ("don't do it") and contraception/condom use ("but if you do, protect yourself") is the best method. Time and the data bear this out.
Abstinence is the only moral and correct choice for single people. And statistically, abstinence (meaning abstaining completely) never fails. Human beings choose to stop practicing abstinence, but abstinence does not break.

Here you will find statistics on abstinence that refute Rob's claims. If, as he says, abortion rates have gone down, perhaps it has been due to this:
The percentage of high school students who have remained virgins has risen from 45.6% in 1990 to 54.1% in 2001.
More here and here and here.
How effective is abstinence?
Abstinence prevents pregnancy 100% of the time. It is the most effective form of birth control.

What are the side effects or health risks of abstinence?
There are no side effects or health risks related to abstinence.

What about abstinence and sexually transmitted diseases (STD's)?
Abstinence prevents the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases 100% of the time.
And according to a Harvard study,
Abstinence education has shown significant effectiveness in reducing AIDS in Uganda, with the HIV infection rate dropping 50 percent between the years 1992 and 2000.

The east African nation is making a big impact with the revelation that the AIDS epidemic can be curbed. Riddled with HIV infections since the 1970s, Uganda has found miraculous success by using abstinence as its prevention strategy. Promotion of abstinence through billboards, radio programs and school sex education curricula has resulted in a slow and steady drop in HIV infection rates, as well as new attitudes about conquering AIDS in Uganda.
Sex education in schools is a relatively new concept. I don't know the year(s) it first began appearing in the majority of schools, but I daresay since it has, teen pregnancies, abortions, and stds have certainly increased. I doubt most people would deny such things have certainly increased since the 1950s, when sex education was probably a rare thing in schools. The radical 1960s brought about the "sexual revolution."

Rob further said,
If you teach someone to drive, they are going to drive, you say. Well, shouldn't you teach them to drive safely at the same time as you are encouraging them to wait until they are licensed to drive...just in case they do?

One does not teach young people who are not of age to drive. They are not responsible enough, nor aware enough to learn. The same applies to sex education. If you teach a ten year old to drive, no matter how much you lecture the child on safety, that ten year old is not able or ready to do so on his own.

If a person does not know how to do something, he is less likely to attempt it. It is exceedingly foolish to teach a child to drive before he is licensed, just in case he tries it. That is a ridiculous argument. Why not teach 3 year olds how to fire guns, just in case they come across one? Why not teach 9 month olds how to swim, just in case they fall in?

Just because something is possible does not mean it should be taught. We have nuclear bombs. Should we use another one just so that no one will attack us; they will know we know how to use such a weapon.

Abstinence is the only 100% effective method in the prevention of pregnancies, abortions, and stds. It is not taught often in schools, nor does it receive funding equal to what sex education receives. The more teenagers who are taught to respect themselves and what abstinence is, the fewer pregnancies, abortions, and teen stds there will be. That is indisputable.

Abstinence works.