The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a study showing that abortion rates decreased by 5% in 2009. Because most abortions are the result of unintended pregnancies, the CDC concluded that the decline resulted from improved and more available birth control options for women. This means that people who want to see fewer abortions in the country should be using their energy to distribute condoms rather than trying to get Roe v. Wade repealed.
Another study has linked countries where abortion is illegal with higher abortion rates. In other words, women who want abortions will find a way to get them, and the number of those women tends to be higher where the procedure is banned. It would seem, then, that seeking to ban abortion has the opposite effect that pro-life advocates would wish. The evidence of these two studies suggests that a complete reversal of policy goals should be in order for people who want to stop women from getting abortions. They should be asking the government to fund birth control research and distribution instead of abstinence-only sex education.
When I first heard that abortion rates had decreased in the U.S., I was really pleased, in spite of my solid pro-choice political stance. Abortions can be traumatic and expensive, and the fewer of them that there are in this world, the better. But the statistics show that criminalizing abortion doesn’t make it stop: it just makes it more dangerous, classist, and frequent. People who really want to see a change, to save the lives of unborn children, as they see it, need to get on side of policies that actually work to decrease abortion rates instead of advocating for regressive measures that have the opposite effect. Then we could all get on the same side, and make some real progress in improving the health of both women and fetuses.