Study: Guttmacher Institute Inflates Illegal Abortion Deaths

by Jacqueline C. Harvey, Ph.D. | Washington, DC | | 12/7/12 5:35 PM


A study published in the International Journal of Women’s Health determined that figures published by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) estimating the numbers of illegal abortions dwarf the actual figure of legal abortions 10 fold. Likewise, researchers discovered that AGI purposefully includes women who died from ectopic pregnancies, miscarriage and assault in their calculations of illegal abortion-related mortality. While the former could be dismissed as gross incompetence, the latter can only be explained as intentional deception.

The study titled, “Fundamental Discrepancies In Abortion Estimates And Abortion-Related Mortality: A Reevaluation Of Recent Studies In Mexico With Special Reference To The International Classification Of Diseases” was conducted by a panel of six epidemiologists at four universities in the U.S., Mexico and Chile and examines the actual figures produced by the Federal District of Mexico and confirmed by an independent, non-governmental agency that supports legal abortion. Actual figures have been reported since abortion was decriminalized in 2007 and discredit not only AGI estimates for illegal abortions and abortion-related mortality in Mexico, but in all countries where AGI applies their intentionally-flawed methodologies to create these bogus estimates.

The authors thoroughly explain AGI’s process for calculating these figures and the inherent bias with instrumentation better than we could reiterate it here, so it is worth a read. We will just summarize the indisputable findings and implications:

1. AGI estimate for illegal abortions in Mexico in 2006: 725,070-1,024,424. Actual number of abortions in 2007 after abortion was legalized (which typically increases the numbers), was only 10,137. AGI’s estimate was 71.52-101 times the actual figure.

2. AGI estimate for legal abortions in Mexico in 2009: 122,455. Actual number: 12,221. This is a 10 fold overestimation.

3. AGI over-estimated abortion-related mortality rate by almost 35%. While the authors charitably state that AGI’s use of estimates of live births rather than the actual figures as an “honest mistake,” they condemn using non-abortion related deaths in this figure, stating, “Clearly, it is misleading to include other well-defined causes with an abortive outcome (eg, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, and other specific pathological conditions) in this con­text because these outcomes are not related to induced abortion.”

While I concede that it is difficult to accurately assess the number of illegal abortions for a myriad of reasons, AGI’s junk science on these matters does not constitute a good-faith but failed attempt nor is it mere incompetence. The inherent bias in the instrumentation and inclusion on non-abortion related data in their figures is clearly an act to intentionally mislead the public. In spite of valid criticism by scholars within legitimate academic community, AGI persists in using their flawed methodology (with minor modifications) to produce new studies for AGI-sponsored journals as recently as June of this year. AGI refuses to accept that this indicator is fundamentally-flawed and cannot merely be modified. Rather, the modifications still yielded an estimate 1000% greater than the actual figure.



Nonetheless, AGI uses these false calculations and intentionally-deceptive figures about illegal abortion deaths to push for decriminalization of abortion around the world. This new study authoritatively discredits the Alan Guttmacher Institute and its findings, as it has been caught red-handed publishing false information that they very well know to be false.

LifeNews Note: Jacqueline C. Harvey is a scholar of public policy and bioethics from Texas who works as a consultant in social services, primarily in statistics as a non-profit program evaluator and policy analyst. Dr. Harvey’s background includes both undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work, as well as a Ph.D. in Public Administration and Public Policy from the University of North Texas, with considerable coursework in public health and healthcare administration from the University of North Texas Health Science Center. Reprinted with permission from Reproductive Research Audit.