Saturday, October 27, 2012

Does Free Contraception Lead to Fewer Abortions?

The latest study is not conclusive

She fails to understand my concern about comparing abortion rates of study participants to national and state averages. To clarify matters, not everyone contacted by the researchers agreed to take part in the study. It is reasonable to hypothesize that those who did agree to participate had a greater desire to avoid pregnancy than the rest of the population. It seems likely that women who strongly wish to avoid getting pregnant have below-average pregnancy rates. As such, comparing pregnancy and abortion-rate data from a cohort of women with a strong desire to avoid pregnancy to national and state averages is a flawed approach.

After all, there is a good chance, absent the program, that this group of women would still have had below-average pregnancy and abortion rates.

Furthermore, recent developments indicate that the skepticism of pro-lifers and conservatives was justified. Writing for, a medical student contacted the authors of the study to ask how they obtained pregnancy and abortion data from study participants. As it turns out, the researchers used telephone surveys. Overall, this is extremely problematic. Many women who submit to an abortion will not voluntarily reveal that information. As such, this study likely undercounts abortions and overestimates the effectiveness of contraceptives. This is obviously a significant methodological limitation to the study — one no mainstream-media outlet has yet to cover.