Sex Ed Isn’t the Problem
Last weekend, a physician friend of mine gave me a recent copy of the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: "Abortion Surveillance – United States, 2007," dated February 25, 2011. I had briefly looked at the online version (and updated our U.S. Abortion Statistics accordingly), but there's still something to say for sitting down with a hard copy. On page 8, the following sentences jumped out at me:
During 1998--2007, women in their 20s obtained the majority of abortions (>55%) and therefore accounted for most of the overall changes in abortion rates. Conversely, women aged ≥35 years consistently accounted for a small percentage of abortions, although their abortion rates increased slowly during this entire period.
What is surprising about these numbers is not the percentages themselves, but the fact that the abortion rate has been steadily increasing in women over 35. After all, the cumulative abortion rate has been steadily decreasing over that same time period. I flipped to page 18 to look at Table 4 (abortions by known age group), and here's what I found. From 1998-2007, the abortion rate for girls younger than 15 decreased by 36.8%. The rate for girls aged 15-19 decreased by 25.3%. The decrease for 20-24 year-olds was 15.7%, and it was a 9.1% decrease for 25-29 year olds. But the abortion rate for 30-34 year-olds increased by .7%, while the abortion rate for 35-39 year olds and women 40 or older increased by 8.2% and 8.0% respectively!
Abortion advocates frequently argue that the best way to decrease abortion is to increase sex education and increase teen access to contraceptives. And yet the only portion of the population with an increasing abortion rate is women over 30. Furthermore, the significant majority of abortions in this country are performed on 20-30 year-old women. These are not naive middle or high school students who don't understand the mechanics of conception or have easy access to contraceptives, which should make it fairly obvious that the foundational problem is not confusion over where babies come from or how condoms work. The real problem is a severely incomplete understanding of what abortion is and does–and it's a problem that seems to afflict older women even more than it does adolescents.
In case you take issue with my labeling of abortion as a "problem," understand that such classification is inherent in the very existence of these reports. Every one is built on the idea that our national abortion rate should be in steady decline. But if there is nothing wrong with abortion, why should we even care what direction the abortion rate tilts? I find it telling that all of the CDC Abortion Surveillance reports are published under the MMWR banner: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. "Morbidity" relates to disease; "mortality" relates to death. In many ways, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention treats abortion as a disease–certainly as something that should be prevented. Abortion advocates should let that sink in.
In updating the Abortion Risks section of our website, I've been pouring over every abortion-related article I could find on the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology website. One of the first ones I came across is titled, "Risk factors for repeat elective abortion." The objective of the study was to account for the fact that "repeat abortions account for 48% of all induced abortions in the United States." Inherent in their research is the idea that women should not be having repeat abortions. But why? If there's nothing wrong with abortion, who cares how many abortions a woman has? The study concludes that:
The associations between both alcohol/drug abuse and depo medroxyprogesterone acetate use and repeat abortion are new findings. Future studies are needed to identify modifiable risk factors for repeat abortion and to identify populations in which interventions, such as long-term contraception, may lower the risk.
Their search continues for "modifiable risk factors" to keep women from having multiple abortions. For my part, the solution isn't as complex as they make it out to be. The best way to reduce the number of abortions is to compellingly demonstrate to those in crisis pregnancy that abortion is an act of violence that kills an innocent human being–more specifically, it is an act of violence that kills their very own child. When women grasp the ethical weight of abortion, when they realize it is not the mere removal of cell tissue, or the termination of a potential life, that is when things will start to change. And when abortion becomes as unthinkable as killing an already born child, it will all but go away–no matter how much sex ed we've received.
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. You can also find him on Facebook and Google+. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.