Sunday, October 17, 2004

Want to reduce abortions? Dump Bush.

Increase availability for contraception and increase social spending. That's the clear message from countries like Belgium and the Netherlands, and with the experience of the good old USA:

When President Bush took office, the nation's abortion rates were at a 24-year low, after a 17.4 percent decline during the 1990s. This was a steady decrease averaging 1.7 percent per year. (The data come from Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life using the Guttmacher Institute's studies.)

Enter George W. Bush in 2001. One would expect the abortion rate to continue its consistent course downward, if not plunge. Instead, the opposite happened.

We found four states that have posted three-year statistics: Kentucky's increased by 3.2 percent from 2000 to 2003. Michigan's increased by 11.3 percent from 2000 to 2003. Pennsylvania's increased by 1.9 percent from 1999 to 2002. Colorado's rates skyrocketed 111 percent. We found 12 additional states that reported statistics for 2001 and 2002. Eight states saw an increase in abortion rates (14.6 percent average increase), and four saw a decrease (4.3 percent average).

Under Bush, the decade-long trend of declining abortion rates appears to have reversed. Given the trends of the 1990s, 52,000 more abortions occurred in the United States in 2002 than would have been expected before this change of direction.

For anyone familiar with why most women have abortions, this is no surprise:

Two-thirds of women who have abortions cite "inability to afford a child" as their primary reason (Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life). In the Bush presidency, unemployment rates increased half again. Not since Herbert Hoover had there been a net loss of jobs during a presidency until the current administration. Average real incomes decreased, and for seven years the minimum wage has not been raised to match inflation. With less income, many prospective mothers fear another mouth to feed.
Half of all women who abort say they do not have a reliable mate. And men who are jobless usually do not marry. In the 16 states, there were 16,392 fewer marriages than the year before, and 7,869 more abortions. As male unemployment increases, marriages fall and abortion rises.

Women worry about health care for themselves and their children. Since 5.2 million more people have no health insurance now than before this presidency -- with women of childbearing age overrepresented in those 5.2 million -- abortion increases.

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