The Washington Post fact checker has debunked another common abortion myth.
Last year, the liberal newspaper exposed Planned Parenthood’s false claim that abortions make up 3 percent of its services. The newspaper labeled the claim “misleading” and gave the abortion chain three out of four “Pinocchios.”
This week, it gave four out of four “Pinocchios” to a widely-used claim that one in three women in the U.S. has had an abortion. In other words, abortion activists are telling a big “whopper,” according to the Post.
The newspaper took the specific claim — “One in three women in this country has had an abortion” – from a letter signed by NARAL, the National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) and other pro-abortion groups urging presidential debate moderator Lester Holt to ask the candidates about abortion.
The claim is based on a 2011 study from the Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, that used data from a 2008 survey of about 9,500 abortion patients.
According to the fact checker:
Researchers used survey data to find the first abortion rate for age subgroups, multiplied the rate by the number of years in each age group, and added up the number of first-time abortions that had taken place by the time women were 45 years old. This was called the “cumulative first abortion rate,” through which they came up with the “lifetime incidence” of abortion, or the “one in three” figure.
The study found that 30 percent of women (effectively, one in three) would have an abortion by age 45, if the 2008 abortion rate prevailed.
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The Guttmacher Institute usually adds the caveat that the figure is based on the 2008 abortion rate, and we have urged advocates and politicians to do the same. But the claim in the letter did not contain any caveat. Instead, it said one in three women (no age specification) has already had an abortion.
Fact checker Michelle Ye Hee Lee cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Census data as further evidence of how bogus NARAL’s claim is. In 2012, there were 699,202 abortions reported to the CDC, and the abortion rate was 13.2 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. In the same year, the U.S. Census reported 62.3 million women in the 15-44 age group.
“One-third of that is 20.6 million women. These numbers show the claim in this letter is not correct,” Ye Hee Lee wrote.
The CDC statistics are not a complete picture because some states do not report their abortion data. The Guttmacher Institute, which surveys all 50 states, reported 1.05 million abortions were performed in 2011. But even the higher Guttmacher numbers do not add up to the “one in three women” claim.
Pro-lifers have been calling out the false claim for years. Back in 2014, Secular Pro-Life founder Kelsey Hazzard debunked the claim in much the same way the Washington Post did this week.
Yet, abortion activists have built whole campaigns around the “whopper” of a statistic. Since 2014, the mainstream media has been giving a lot of attention to the Advocates for Youth’s 1 in 3 Campaign, which is based off the statistic. The campaign attempts to normalize abortions by claiming that they are common and encouraging women to share positive abortion experiences. It also blocks out the stories of countless women who regret their abortions. The campaign isn’t over, either. In July, the 1 in 3 Campaign hosted a stage production called “Remarkably Normal” that highlighted women’s “positive” experiences with abortion.
According to the Washington Post, the one in three claim is “unsupported by facts” and “an inaccurate reference to research relying on data nearly a decade old.” What remains to be seen is whether the mainstream news media will continue allowing abortion activists to perpetuate the myth.