Glenn Stassen Continues False Notion Abortions Increased Under President Bush

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 22, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Glenn Stassen Continues False Notion Abortions Increased Under President Bush

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 22
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Not content that pro-life advocates and even a nonpartisan research firm refuted his past contention that abortions increased under President Bush, liberal professor Glenn Stassen is back at it with an orotund claim that abortions rose under Bush and will decline under President Barack Obama.

Stassen makes the claims in a new article appearing in the most recent issue of Sojourners, the publication headed by so-called pro-life Obama apologist Jim Wallis.

"Abortions reduced by 300,000 a year during the Clinton years, stayed flat or increased during the Bush years, and if they resume their reductions during the Obama years, then many consistently pro-life people like me will conclude that we should judge administrations not by their words but by their fruits," he writes.

Based on reports from the Centers for Disease Control, he asserts abortion rates for women had decreased "dramatically" through 2000 but stalled from 2000 to 2005.

Stassen claims abortion rate rose under Bush because his administration "cut back crucial supports for mothers and babies such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program; Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); food stamps; and Pell Grants for college education."

But Mark Tooley at the American Spectator takes Stassen to task.

"Spending on WIC’s supplemental food program grew from under $4.1 billion in 2001 to over $6.2 billion in 2008," Tooley explains. "By the end of 2008, a record 31.5 million Americans were receiving food stamps, having increased from under $18 billion in 2001 to over $37 billion in 2008."

In fact, spending on food stamps fell during the Clinton administration, from $24 billion to $18 billion from 1993 to 2000.

Also, Tooley notes, CHIP spending started at $2.7 billion in 2001 and rose to $5.7 billion in 2007, with coverage increasing from 4.6 million children to 6.6 million. And the Bush administration instituted the Unborn Child Rule helping pregnant women and their unborn children to be covered under the program.

Finally, grants for college education increased from $11 billion to over $16 billion.

But Tooley says the raw abortion numbers from the CDC refute Stassen’s claims.

"Counting just those 46 states for which data is available from 1995, abortions declined from 894,000 in 1995 to 836,000 in 2000," but they also "declined from 833,000 to 810,000 in 2005."

"In other words, abortions did decline numerically and per 1,000 births during Bush’s first term," he adds.

Tooley also says the decline in abortions in the 1990s isn’t necessarily Clinton’s doing because of the passage of so many state laws by Republicans to limit and reduce abortions during that time.

"Stassen seemingly credited the Clinton Administration for declining abortion rates. But he may as well credit the Republican Congress of the 1990s, or the majority of state governments that had Republican governors and legislatures, or the increased attempts by states to regulate abortion," he said.

State data on abortion statistics also appears to refute Stassen as states with more pro-life laws saw abortions declining more.

"The CDC data also shows that socially liberal, wealthy states with presumably more extensive social programs have higher abortion rates than socially conservative, poorer states with presumably fewer resources," Tooley explains.

"Among the poorer, more conservative states in 2005 by residence, Alabama had 164 abortions per 1,000 births and 11 abortions per 1,000 women. Mississippi had 148 and 10. West Virginia had 100 and 6. Kentucky had 46 and 3. By comparison, New York had 482 and 29; Rhode Island had 308 and 18; Massachusetts had 302 and 17; and Connecticut had 300 and 17," he added.

Tooley rejects Stassen’s claims that abortions dripped 300,000 during the Clinton years. According to CDC figures, abortions decreased no more than 130,000 during both of his terms.

In January, the Alan Guttmacher Institute reported that the number of abortions nationwide have fallen to their lowest point in 30 years and have declined 25 percent since 1990 — with half of that time period coming under pro-life presidents.

The number of abortions are now at their lowest point since 1.179 million in 1976, AGI said.

Meanwhile, research from a nonpartisan political watchdog group finds the claim false when compared with national and state abortion statistics.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania says that claims that abortions have not decreased under President Bush are "not true."

"Politicians from Hillary Clinton and John Kerry to Howard Dean have recently contended that abortions have increased since George W. Bush took office in 2001," the researchers have written.

"This claim is false. It’s based on an opinion piece that used data from only 16 states. A study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute of 43 states found that abortions have actually decreased," Annenberg indicates.

"The claim is repeated by supporters of abortion rights as evidence that Bush’s anti-abortion policies have backfired, or at least been ineffective," it added. "But the claim is untrue. In fact, according to the respected Alan Guttmacher Institute, a 20-year decline in abortion rates continued after Bush took office."

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