LifeNews, Wendy Wright Skew Facts on Guttmacher Abortion Rate Report

Emily Douglas and Concerned Women for America's Wendy Wright have an unconventional -- you might say wildly inaccurate -- take on the Guttmacher Institute's recent report on the rate of abortion nationwide. and Concerned Women for America’s Wendy Wright have an unconventional — you might say wildly inaccurate — take on the Guttmacher Institute’s recent report on the rate of abortion nationwide.

Wright’s comments and LifeNews’ reporting on the report are so riddled with distortion that I’d like to go through the article line by line to correct the record.

Claim: "New Study Shows More Contraception, Birth Control Don’t Reduce Abortion" (the headline)

Reality: The Guttmacher study was investigating the abortion rate — by age, state, race, number of previous abortions, number of previous births, and other demographic factors.  Any claims wants to make about contraception and its role in reducing unintended pregnancy are its own conclusions.

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Claim: "AGI,
the research arm of Planned Parenthood, released
a new report
showing that abortions are done at higher rates on
black, poor, and older women." 

Reality: Okay, that’s a more accurate characterization of the report — but the Guttmacher Insitute is not the research arm of Planned Parenthood.  Guttmacher was founded as a "semi-autonomous division of Planned Parenthood" in 1968 and became an independent non-profit in 1977. Guttmacher is widely known to be non-partisan; its research is respected by both those who oppose and support legal abortion.

Claim: "[The report] shows that young women who are in college or slightly
older or younger obtain the highest number of abortions.Wright
contends this is a group of people who have the easiest access to
contraception and the most knowledge about birth control because they
grew up in a culture where it has been prevalent. ‘The
majority of women who are having abortions are those in their twenties,’
Wright told OneNewsNow. ‘These are college career women. These
are not women who lack access to contraception or lack knowledge of

Reality: Wright’s contention that women in college have the easiest access to and greatest knowledge of contraception, but account for the majority of abortions provided, is all the evidence the piece marshals for its headline. Women in their twenties do have the highest abortion rate.  But the past three decades has seen a substantial drop in the abortion rate among both teens and women aged 20-24. The proportion of abortions obtained by women aged 20-24 hasn’t dropped but the proportion of abortions sought by women younger than 20 has dropped by a third. This drop started long before abstinence-only policies did.

Claim: "Statistics
from other nations appear to back up Wright’s claim that the Barack
Obama-Planned Parenthood pro-birth control approach to reduce abortions
hasn’t worked."

Reality: We don’t need to look overseas to examine whether access to contraception affects the rate of abortion. Guttmacher has well-documented the links between readily available contraception, unintended pregnancy, and abortion. Guttmacher’s Larry Finer has written for Rewire, "Of almost 43 million U.S. women at
risk of unintended pregnancy, the 11% not using contraceptives account for
almost half of all abortions." A separate Guttmacher study found: 

funded family planning clinics provide contraceptive services to approximately
seven million women each year. Without these services, the annual number of
unintended pregnancies and abortions in the United States would be almost 50%
higher. In other words, 1.4 million unintended pregnancies and 600,000
abortions are averted each year because of these services, according to a new Guttmacher Institute analysis.

But we can do an international comparison, too!  Yet another Guttmacher report on the rate of abortion worldwide found that "The lowest abortion rate in the world in 2003 was for Western Europe
(12 per 1,000 women aged 15–44), where contraceptive services and use
are widespread and safe abortion is easily accessible and legal under
broad grounds."

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