The Guttmacher Institute has just released a report that shows that worldwide increases in contraception use between 1995-2003 led to a reduction in the number of unintended pregnancies and therefore abortions. Now, that seems pretty obvious to me, but there’s some backstory to this.
At the same time that contraception has become more widely available, there has also been a global trend towards reducing restrictions on abortions. According to the report, while the abortion rate follows the trends in unintended pregnancies, it isn’t really affected by the legal status of abortion. In fact, “abortion occurs at roughly equal rates in regions where it is broadly legal and in regions where it is highly restricted. The key difference is safety—illegal, clandestine abortions cause significant harm to women, especially in developing countries.”
In all of the debates around sex, sex education, abortion, and contraception, the one thing that almost everyone can agree on is that it would be a good idea to minimize how many abortions take place. Unfortunately, the anti-choice folks prefer to base their strategies on the overly-simple model of “make it difficult or impossible to do and nobody will do it” and that simply isn’t how the world works. If you want to reduce how many abortions happen, make it easier for women to access accurate information, safe contraception, and effective health care.
That’s a much more complex approach than simply passing laws against abortion. But the evidence is clear- that’s what works. Insanity, as we know, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Unless, of course, your goal is to punish women who have sex and cause untold pain, shame, and fear. In that case, the anti-abortion strategy works just fine.
I know I’ve mentioned these folks before, but I’m going to talk about them every time I post anything about abortion. Exhale is (as far as I know), the only post-abortion hotline that isn’t anti-choice. They offer a safe place to talk about whatever comes up for you, positive, negative or neutral. And they welcome anyone of any gender who needs support around abortion. 1-866-4 EXHALE