A popular Heritage Foundation report advocates increased government regulations in the area of abortion claiming that such laws reduce abortion. Please consider this American RTL analysis of those claims.
False Claims for Abortion Regulations
*Surgical* Abortions Down
Pro-Life Regulations Wrongly Credited
Colorado enacted no abortion regulations during the years of a much-quoted Heritage Foundation report, yet saw one of the largest drops in reported abortions according to the Colorado Department of Health, from 12,679 in 1990 to 4,215 in 2000. This two-thirds drop in abortions reported by the state is greater than the average drop nationwide in abortion among teenagers of 50% that Dr. New concludes occurred in significant part due to child-killing regulations. How can this be? What's happening with the numbers?
National Right To Life, leading the abortion-regulation movement, promotes the erroneous findings of Michael J. New, Ph.D., who's report was published by the Heritage Foundation in 2007. Titled Analyzing the effect of state legislation on the incidence of abortion among minors, Dr. New claims a positive pro-life result from laws that regulate the killing of unborn children. However, based on the following analysis, abortion regulations may even increase the total number of children killed by abortion. Additionally, there are other factors that can account for some reductions in abortions including increased effectiveness of front-line intervention; the explosion and normalization of non-heterosexual behavior; and other factors causing a drop in overall pregnancy rates.
Disputing Pro-Life Claims for Regulations: Hundreds of pro-life laws, which are child-killing regulations, undermine personhood and the God-given right to life. As such, American RTL rejects them as immoral, and as counterproductive to the goal of eventual legal protection for the unborn. Further as attested by Professor Charles Rice of the Notre Dame Law School, stalwart legal authority of the pro-life movement, these laws can keep abortion legal for years or decades after Roe v. Wade is eventually merely overturned (hear him in the groundbreaking Focus on the Strategy II documentary). The pro-life movement has a vested interest in claiming these regulations save lives, thus we cannot document any attempts by National RTL to quantify the potential short and long-term negative consequences of these laws. Child-killing regulations prune the abortion weed, and strengthen its root. They make abortion look more reasonable and even humane to millions of women, and voters, and to countless politicians and judges, and even to those many Christians who are apathetic about abortion.
Granted, it would be difficult to quantify the number of children who will be killed after Roe is merely overturned, as pro-life laws become the nails that hold open the abortion clinic doors. Dr. Rice has stated:
"If the court says the states can regulate abortion, then to protect the right to life, you'd have to get rid of the 'pro-life' abortion laws."
Indiana Code Title 16, Section 34, Chapter 2. Requirements for Performance of Abortion... 1. (a) Abortion shall in all instances be a criminal act, except... if ...the woman submitting to the abortion has filed her consent…"
Dr. Michael New’s research ignores enormous potential negative effects of abortion regulations as shown above and is therefore fundamentally flawed and gives the pro-life industry a false sense of confidence. This undue confidence could further a pro-life strategy which may result in millions of children killed over years or decades by the permissive authority of the pro-life movement's own regulations.
Netflix & Planned Parenthood: Netflix put Blockbuster out of business. Blockbuster put thousands of mom and pop video stores out of business. This is only the streamlining of the film distribution channel and doesn't mean that people are watching fewer films. Planned Parenthood put many independent abortion mills out of business. (In the 1990s they were even sued FPA, a California abortion chain for unfair business practices. Incidentally, FPA's founder Edward Allred committed Gianna Jessen's "failed" abortion. Gianna's case became public when she testified against another abortionist, William Waddill, accused of strangling another baby who survived his abortion.) Chemical abortifacients, etc., are reducing the number of surgical abortions and putting individual abortionists out of business. None of this means that fewer children are being killed by abortion.
Now consider the current effect of child-killing regulations, some of which have been considered by Dr. New, but most of which have not. Dr. New recognizes the difficulty in quantifying what is really happening regarding the influence of child-killing regulations because of complex over-lapping influences, and also, because of inadequacies in the abortion statistics themselves. These numbers originate with the abortionists themselves, and abortionists are liars; and pro-abortion forces often seek to under-report, as in during the 1990s to make the Clinton administration appear better than Republicans at reducing abortion. Further, abortionists will under-report, or even completely refuse to report even when mandated by law, as in Planned Parenthood’s systematic refusal to comply with mandatory reporting laws regarding suspicion of child molestation. Thus in states where political attention and pressure is brought upon the abortion industry for, say, abortions on girls under age 16, abortion chains can simply underreport to make the concern appear overblown and to deflect attention.
Some factors affect the number of annual abortions, and others that lower the ratio of abortions as a percent of pregnancies. Back in 1989, during a Saturday protest at Denver’s Planned Parenthood clinic, we prayed and asked God to help us make the commitment to have Christian sidewalk counselors at the mill five days a week, during killing hours, to offer help and hope and the Gospel, to the women scheduled to kill their children. Since then, there has been a five-day presence at that killing center, and for about ten years that we have been counting, over 100 children are confirmed as saved from death by these efforts, and there are probably far more than a hundred more not confirmed, but saved annually. Being at the clinic gives these activists a better understanding of the dynamics of the abortion reality. When the Heritage Foundation reports that child-killing regulations significantly reduce the incidence of abortion, the pro-life industry accepts that without question, because they want to believe it, and also, there has been a large reduction in the raw numbers of children being killed annually. Here are the major factors:
Non-Heterosexual Behavior: Since 1990, pregnancy rates themsevles have dropped significantly. One reason for this is that out of all sexual behavior, there are millions more annual homosexual encounters as compared to the decades of the 1950s through the 1980s. Lesbian encounters, for example, do not produce pregnancies. God-ordained heterosexuality leads to life. Homosexuality does not. However, the explosion of, and then the normalization of, homosexual behavior is a major factor that has reduced pregnancies, which in turn reduces abortion numbers.
Stigma: The stigma for unwed pregnancy has greatly faded, which can reduce the abortion ratio, that is, women who get pregnant who may have aborted fifteen years ago to avoid the social stigma, have far less stigma to be concerned about, and this stigma dropped sooner in more liberal states, and more recently in Bible-belt states, and that effect is one of many ignored by the latest Heritage Foundation report.
Economic Growth: Dr. New did not consider the effect of economic growth during the 1990s that at some level can reduce the perceived need for young women to abort, and thus can lower the abortion ratio.
CPCS, Ultrasound, Sidewalk Counseling: Crisis pregnancy centers have become extremely more effective over the past fifteen years, as has ultrasound technology (3D & 4D), as has sidewalk counseling (often working as a referral service to thousands of CPCs), all of which has reduced the abortion ratio, and which is ignored by the Heritage report even though the influence of these significant factors can vary state-by-state in ways that could undermine Dr. News efforts at covariant analysis.
Pregnancies Down: The pregnancy rate has been plummeting among some age groups, and especially among teens. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there has been an explosion of birth control use, and especially so among young women. Today, moms give their own daughters the pill, and condom use has skyrocketed among teens since the late 1980s, and so among teenagers for example, the subject of Dr. New’s February 2007 report, the pregnancy rate has plummeted over 30%, and that greatly reduces the number of abortions. So, when the pro-life industry sees abortion numbers plummet, and the Heritage Foundation tells them what they want to hear, “it’s because of your abortion regulations,” no one seriously challenges the results (except for the American Right To Life coalition from their Open Letter to Dr. James Dobson.)
Chemical Abortions: Pro-life claims of success with child-killing regulations often ignore chemical abortions, from Plan B (the Morning After Pill) and even from RU-486. Chemical abortions have increased significantly since the 1990s. One of the unintended consequences of abortion regulations such as a "heartbeat bill" is that if it becomes law, there would be an expected explosion of the routine use of the Morning After Pill, in that women, to great risk also to their own health, will start popping Plan B like a vitamin with their morning coffee. Because a Heartbeat Bill is not a principled bill based upon the God-given right to life of the child, that strategy will predictably backfire, and has the potentional of dramatically increasing the number of children who are actually killed, but rather than by a scalpel, by a chemical weapon.
Abortion Lowers Abortion: Abortion itself makes women infertile, and so as the fertility of young women drops, the number of abortions drop, not because of our regulations, but because women who waited 24 hours, or who signed informed consent forms, now are injured and perhaps can never again conceive a child.
Many pro-life street activists know the fallacies of unchallenged studies that tell the pro-life industry what it wants to hear: that regulating child killing is effective.
Partial-birth Abortion: PBA bans have no authority to prevent even a single abortion, and while Dr. New indicates that the raw data is insufficient to give much confidence, he still optimistically reports that PBA bans have saved children from being killed. His optimism is countered by the sober observation of a leading supporter of the PBA ban:
"Ending partial-birth abortion... does not save a single human life."
- Dr. James Dobson
Dr. New also completely ignores the potential negative consequences of the bans themselves (that is, how more children likely die as a result of the 15-year PBA effort which raised a quarter-of-a-billion dollars for the pro-life industry but did not stop a single scheduled abortion.).
Bad Data - Relying on Abortionists: Abortionists lie. And they are the primary source for the data. The Heritage Foundation reports employ abortion statistics which are themselves notoriously unreliable, with states reporting numbers of abortions than can double or halve themselves in a year’s time. Vermont enacted no child-killing regulations and yet reports a 44% drop through the 1990s. If National Right To Life had passed child-killing regulations in Vermont, the pro-life industry, enabled by the Heritage Foundation, would hype their fundraising, claiming great credit for that drop, when in reality other factors produce whatever reduction actually occurred (the numbers themselves being unreliable). Dr. New failed to take to heart the warning of Mises, an Austrian economist:
Full of zeal to embark upon mathematical operations, the statisticians yield to the temptation of disregarding the incomparability of the data available. -Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, 1949 (1998 edition) p. 328
Bad Data - Relying on Clinton: Democrats in places of influence, health department regulators, abortion clinic administrators, etc., preferred lower numbers of reported abortions during the Clinton years (roughly during the time of Dr. New’s study) to deny claims that Republicans reduce abortion more than Democrats. The Heritage Foundation, normally astute politically, somehow completely missed this major political factor that lowered abortion reporting. The Colorado Department of Health reported abortion statistics for 2000 (see their Induced Terminations of Pregnancy, apparently not online, but the CRTL office has a photocopy of some pages). In their report, the Colorado Dept. of Health indicated that the Clinton administration cut off funding used for collecting abortion statistics: "funding for states to sustain reporting systems was eliminated in 1995, and Colorado has had very limited resources available to maintain or improve the reporting system for induced terminations of pregnancy." Thus: "these numbers significantly underestimate” actual abortions, and use these statistics with quote: "great caution." Yet, a typical National RTL fundraising letter, for Jan. 5, 1998, said that a "U.S. government report showed another huge increase in the number of babies saved from abortion each year in this country. In fact, there are now 219,000 fewer abortions each year than there were in the peak year of 1990... precious babies... now living and growing at home with their families..."
Look to Colorado: Colorado enacted no child-killing regulations during the years of the Heritage Foundation report, yet saw one of the largest drops in reported abortions according to the State Health Department, from 12,679 in 1990 to 4,215 in 2000 (adding, “reporting… not… consistent over time”). This two-thirds drop in abortions reported by the state (none of which, remember, is reliable), is greater than the average drop nationwide in abortion among teenagers of 50% that Dr. New concludes occurred in significant part due to child-killing regulations. Yet in Colorado we had no such regulations during the years of his study! So how about Colorado’s drop? If we had enacted informed consent, waiting periods, and parental involvement in killing their grandchildren, what? Would our abortion rate have dropped to about zero? The way that the pro-life industry is going, they may end up passing a law prohibiting abortion reporting, and then when zero abortions are finally reported, the Heritage Foundation can declare victory in the war against the unborn!
Deflecting Attention: When state legislators pass laws prying into the incidence of teen abortions, the abortion chains in those states can simply underreport to deflect attention. Planned Parenthood does not obey mandatory reporting laws for child molestation; and it easily misreports abortion numbers because this service is mostly a cash business; and many young women don’t want their parents to find out what they have done; and many adult customers don’t want a paper trail of their shame; and according to their own websites, Planned Parenthood abortion mills don’t even accept checks for this service. And since an abortionist commits murder, it’s not surprising that whenever convenient, he also lies.
Sidewalk counselors may not have degrees in statistics, but killing kids is more about right and wrong than numbers. And while statistics can easily mislead, right and wrong are simple enough for a child to understand. When you compromise on Do not murder, the results easily backfire, and abortion can become more entrenched. But don’t expect the pro-life industry to seriously examine its claims of success, nor any harmful consequences of its strategy, like promoting moral relativism and legal positivism, and like further eroding the child’s personhood in the mind of the public and among governing officials. All Christians, and all pro-life ministries, should read and sign Colorado Right To Life’s 40 Years / 50 Million Dead / One Commitment pledge to never compromise on God’s enduring command, Do not murder!
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Dec. 2013 Update: Sadly, the misleading and unreliable LifeNews.com report that abortions are down 30% is false. While it is widely known that statistics are easily manipulated, carefully reading this classic American RTL article will explain how "conservative" groups (even a prestigious think tank like the Heritage Foundation), commonly manipulate abortion statistics.