Guttmacher Institute Study Casts Doubt on Contraception Use Reducing Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 20, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Guttmacher Institute Study Casts Doubt on Contraception Use Reducing Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 20
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — A new study by the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute continues the claim that expanded use of contraception and birth control reduces abortions worldwide. Mainstream media outlets and writers like Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic are using the report to say pro-life advocates should push for contraception.

Sullivan became the latest in a long line of commentators to criticize the pro-life movement for not being more contraceptive-friendly.

But, Dr. Michael New, a University of Alabama political science professor, writes at National Review Online that Guttmacher’s own study shows how contraception doesn’t reduce the abortion numbers.

"The link between abortion rates and access to contraception is not as clear as the Guttmacher report might indicate. Furthermore, Guttmacher’s own research suggests that there is little reason to believe that contraception subsidies would do much to affect abortion rates," he explains.

New says "there exists no consensus on the correlation between the availability of contraception and the incidence of abortion."

"In fact, in 2003, Guttmacher released an article in ‘International Family Planning Perspectives’ that showed simultaneous increases in both contraceptive use and abortion rates in the United States, Cuba, Denmark, Netherlands, Singapore, and South Korea," New points out., in its own analysis, concurs with New’s conclusion and has pointed out how aggressive promotion of contraception, the morning after pill and birth control in Britain, Scotland, Sweden, and the state of Washington have all resulted in increased abortions.

New agrees and says the experience of the United States is instructive.

"The birth-control pill was first approved by the FDA in early 1961 and put on the market later that same year. Guttmacher’s research found that women who turned 15 between the mid-1960s and early 1970s were more likely to engage in sexual activity at a younger age than their counterparts who turned 15 before the early 1960s," he notes at National Review.

"Furthermore, Guttmacher partly attributes this increased sexual activity to the availability of the birth-control pill. Overall, the birth-control pill led to more sexual activity and shifted the culture in such a way as to hasten the liberalization of America’s abortion laws. All of this led to higher abortion rates," he continues.

New also says that requiring mandatory coverage of contraceptives as part of health reform is unlikely to have much effect on abortion rates.

"Guttmacher’s own research indicates that few women forgo contraception because of either cost or lack of availability," he writes.

"Eight years ago, Guttmacher surveyed 10,000 women who had abortions. Among those who were not using contraception at the time they conceived, 2 percent said that they did not know where to obtain a method of contraception and 8 percent said that they could not afford contraceptives," he points out. "Given all the already existing programs, it is by no means clear that there are policy instruments that could increase contraceptive use among this subset of women."

New says such mandates would merely drive up the cost of health care with little benefit in terms of a reduction in abortions.

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