Friday, December 14, 2012

How can we judge if contraception is successful in reducing the number of abortions?

Mirena IUDIt is often said that contraception should be promoted to reduce the number of abortions, because a reduction in the number of unintended pregnancies leads to fewer abortions.

I don't accept the premise, but let's work with this idea for argument's sake.

When can we say that contraception usage has been effective in reducing abortions? How its impact be measured on abortion reduction?

Abortion advocates say that higher rates of contraception use is associated with fewer abortions.

Of course, correlation does not imply causation.

But even if it did, it does not establish that contraception is the key in reducing abortion.

Because we do not have an "ideal abortion rate".

In an ideal world, all unintended pregnancies would be avoidable, therefore all abortions resulting from them would be avoidable.

If an abortion does take place, it's for "a good reason" -- sexual crime, or maternal or fetal indications.

The "ideal abortion rate" would measure only those "necessary" abortions. 

This ideal abortion rate would be the bar by which we could measure whether contraception usage leads to fewer abortions.

As it stands, about thirty per cent of pregnancies are aborted in Canada. We have not reached this "ideal abortion rate" by any means, in spite of the widespread availability of contraception.

 You might object: but not everyone uses contraception, uses it perfectly, or uses effective contraception. So you can't blame contraception for the abortion rate.
Then that raises the question:

Will all people ever use effective contraception perfectly and consistently?


Okay: Then what percentage of people of reproductive age can be expected to do so? What is the
theoretical level of contraceptive perfection?

And somehow this figure must take into account the degree of effectiveness of the contraception. Because it's not fair to compare a population that relies on condoms and one that relies on IUD's.

And what country is closest in attaining this level of contraceptive usage?

And would this perfect contraceptive usage lead to the ideal abortion rate? Somehow I doubt it. I doubt it would get to be even close.

I confess, I do not know if any researcher has ever attempted to establish these figures.

But it seems to me that any body of people serious about reducing the number of abortions would have statistical tools to measure such outcomes.

The only outcomes I've ever seen are basic ones like "Country X has this level of contraceptive use, and has abortion rate Y".

I've read my fair share of pro-abortion websites and blogs. If abortion advocates were serious about reducing the number of abortions, they would be eager to share this kind of information with the world, to show how successful contraception is in reducing abortions.

But I do not think that abortion advocates are adamant in reducing abortions.

It's not that they're really keen on seeing women go down to the abortion clinic. It's that abortion is not objectionable to them, so they're not as motivated to reduce the abortion rate. People in general tend to find abortion as morally questionable. It doesn't qualify as murder, but it's not the same thing as a tooth extraction. So it should be "safe legal and rare" as the Clintons put it. The general population supports contraception in the belief that it's the key in reducing abortions.

Has anyone ever done a serious analysis of whether this is true?

I doubt it.

I don't think anyone has ever really attempted to measure the effects of contraception beyond establishing a correlation between higher contraceptive usage and lower abortion rates.