by Steven Ertelt
May 31, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Just days before the 2004 presidential election, a researcher claimed abortions have increased during President Bush’s first term. However a more comprehensive review from a Planned Parenthood research team finds the reverse is true.
The original allegations of a higher abortion rate came from an op-ed conducted by researcher Harold Stassen who reviewed data from 16 states, some of which he never named in his article.
Stassen sometimes used old figures and even used the birth rate instead of the abortion rate in one state to reach his conclusions.
A new study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, looks at figures from 43 states and finds that abortions have actually decreased since President Bush took office.
AGI’s study found abortions decreased nationwide – by 0.8% in 2001 and by another 0.8% in 2002.
The abortion rate, the number of women having abortions relative to the population as a whole, also decreased 1% in 2001 and 0.9% in 2002.
AGI officials say the states Stassen picked in his study were likely ones with higher historic abortion rates and the kind of socioeconomic groups that are more likely to have abortions.
Taking a closer look at some of the states, Stassen claimed abortions in Colorado and “skyrocketed 111 percent," but AGI officials say that statistic is an aberration because state officials only recently began using new methods to account for historic underreporting.
The same phenomenon occurred in Arizona, where Stassen claimed abortions had gone up significantly. Instead, the rise was due to more accurate numbers.
Following the AGI report, Stassen admitted he can’t substantiate his original claims.
He sent a memo on May 25 to FactCheck.org, an investigative web site, saying the AGI study was "significantly better" than his own.
"I based my estimates in October on the sixteen states whose data I could find then. Now, seven months later, and with their extensive data-gathering ability, AGI (Alan Guttmacher Institute) bases their results on 44 states," Stassen wrote.
"They say their results are only estimates, projections, but I believe their results are significantly better than what I could have obtained seven months ago," he said.
The Stassen op-ed, though rebutted by pro-life advocates days after its release, prompted numerous politicians to claim abortions had increased under President Bush.
As recently as May 24, new Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean claimed abortions were skyrocketing.
He told NBC News’ Meet the Press host Tim Russert, "You know that abortions have gone up 25 percent since George Bush was President ?"
Russert did not challenge Dean on the claim.
"We asked the Democratic National Committee repeatedly where Dean got his 25 percent figure, but we got no response," FactCheck officials reported.