Contraception Is Something, At Least

This post was originally written for the Feminist Justice League, and appeared here.

According to The Washington Post, “The abortion rate in the United States dropped to its lowest point since the Supreme Court legalized the procedure in all 50 states, according to a study suggesting that new, long-acting contraceptive methods are having a significant impact in reducing unwanted pregnancies.”

Fill under “D” for “Duh.” The article continues:

The study did not examine the reasons for the drop. But the authors suggested that one factor was greater reliance on new kinds of birth control, including intra-uterine devices such as Mirena, which can last for years and are not susceptible to user error like daily pills or condoms.

They also noted the economy as a contributing factor, because people tend to adhere more strictly to their birth control during tough economic times. But they did not credit the recent wave of state laws restricting access to abortion, because most of those took effect in 2011 or later.

Those restrictions will surely have an impact on the numbers going forward, said Rachel K. Jones, a senior researcher at Guttmacher and lead researcher on the paper.

“If the abortion rate continues to drop, we can’t assume it’s all due to positive factors” such as better adherence to contraceptives, she said, calling the laws passed in 22 states “onerous.”

Onerous, indeed. In fact, these restrictions will have an impact on the numbers going forward, but not in the way the author of the article most likely intends. There will be the same number if not more abortions—only, they’ll be done unsafely, quasi-illegally (legally, but not officially), and under the table. I could reference the Drug War (or Prohibition) here, but the comparison is so easy that it doesn’t even warrant re-mentioning.

Here’s basically the same article from The Guardian, if corroboration is your thing.

Of course, anti-choice groups will say that it’s because of the restrictions—or, at least, the “public debate” they’ve incited—but the simple fact that these numbers are reported abortions, i.e. safe and official ones, highlights the point that making it harder for people to get such abortions doesn’t actually decrease their frequency. Rather, it only increases their frequency in unsafe circumstances, which means both sides of this debate lose. But then again, “lose” is a word to treat with suspicion, for decreasing abortions is only an ostensible goal; the real goal is the control of women (either to increase GDP, or to keep an underclass firmly in its place and at ready supply, or both—or, you know, good ol’ fashioned patriarchy).

But don’t just take my word for it. Again from The Washington Post:State abortion rates were dropping even before the recent surge in restrictions“. Another one for the “D” file.


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