Amidst a study suggesting that RU-486 actually reduces the risk of breast cancer, No Room for Contraception, a site that claims contraception is bad because it increases the risk of breast cancer (which it doesn’t), is rearing its head again. This time it’s an article that says that increased availability of contraception increases rather than decreases the abortion rate.
[Link] It’s a common assumption that contraception reduces the need for abortion in the United States. Yet the history of contraception and abortion in the 60s and 70s shows this assumption to be incorrect.
In the 60s, the legal status of contraceptives and the ability of married couples to use them varied from state to state. Most states had restrictions on how contraceptives could be distributed and who could use them. The United States Supreme Court would play a pivotal role in the increased access to contraception during this period by declaring various state restrictions unconstitutional.
During the course of these legal developments, the percentage of women aged 15-19 who ever engaged in premarital sex continued to rise. The figures rose from 30.4% in 1971 to 43.4% in 1976, and rose again to 49.8 % in 1979. [B]-1
As the number of younger and younger teens became sexually active, and as both married and unmarried women had increasing access to contraception, the abortion rates rose.
In 1972, the abortion rate for all women aged 15-19 was 19.1 per 1000 women (including married women). This figure jumped to 34.3 in 1976, and to 42.4 in 1979. [F]-1
Abortion rates did not decrease with increased access to contraception – they increased instead. So did the pregnancy rates – the only thing that decreased was the birth rate (due to increased abortion).
Whoever wrote this article needs to be summarily branded with an I, for idiot. A person with at least some understanding of causation would say that contraception became unrestricted in the US about the same time as abortion, so the rates of usage of both increased in the 1970s. A political hack with an anti-privacy agenda would say that this implies contraception causes women to abort more.
The part about pregnancy rates in the 1970s makes no sense. The article’s saying that contraception encouraged teenage sex, which encouraged teen pregnancy. Again, there’s a split: a reality-based individual would conclude based on the fact that the US teen pregnancy rate plummeted in the 1960s that contraception helps, while a hack would handwave a magical explanation why contraception actually increases the pregnancy rate.
It’s no coincidence that the country that has the broadest sex education and has the strongest contraceptive mentality, the Netherlands, is also the one with the lowest teen pregnancy rate. It also has a very low teen abortion rate, even though abortion is available on demand. Russia, which under Soviet rule had unrestricted abortion but very little contraception, had an enormously high abortion rate, which went down by more than 50% after contraceptives became readily available.
On the other hand, I feel that the mode of argument used by NRFC will get them very far. The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster uses arguments similar to “The USA’s contraception and abortion rate both went up in the 1970s” to prove that global warming is the result of the reduction in the number of pirates in the last 200 years. So it could be that the folks at NRFC are especially favored by the FSM and will go to heaven after they die, where they’ll enjoy a beer volcano and a stripper factory.
(Hat-tip to Ann for the RU-486 study)