October 20, 2004


Claims That President Bush's Policies Increased Abortion Numbers Baseless (Dr. Randy O'Bannon, Laura Hussey, October 20, 2004, Life News)

Since no national abortion data have been reported since 2000, Stassen looks at abortion figures for 16 states over 2001, 2002, and in some cases, 2003.

Stassen confidently claims that abortions increased in 11 of those 16 states during the Bush administration and asserts that this reflects a larger national upward trend in abortions. Yet Stassen never demonstrates that his 16 states are representative of the 50 states. Even worse for Stassen's case is that some of his statistics are just flat wrong, while others are of ambiguous origin.

Some of the states Stassen cites showed increases or decreases of a couple of percent or less over the two to three year period. This is to be expected. Even when overall trends are up or down, there are fluctuations that go a couple of percentage points above or below the curve in any given couple of years. Figures have to be followed for a number of years to identify a clear directional pattern. Seven of the 16 states Stassen cites, Pennsylvania (+1.9%), Illinois (+0.9%), Missouri (+2.5%), South Dakota (+2.1%), Wisconsin (+0.6%), Florida (-0.7%), and Washington (-2.1%), appear to fall into this category. These smaller short term fluctuations are not be sufficient for us to establish a trend.

Illinois provides a case in point. While published counts do show the number of abortions increasing from 46,546 in 2001 to 46,945 in 2002, accounting for the 0.9% increase Stassen mentions, more recent figures show a substantial decrease for 2003, down to 42,228. That represents a drop of 10%, and the lowest full-year figure Illinois has seen since 1973. Taken as a whole, this latest drop appears to be part of a larger long term downward trend, with 2002 being a short term deviation.

Sometimes, Stassen's figures are just plain wrong. Stassen says abortions in Wisconsin increased by 0.6% from 2001 to 2002. The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services says there were 436 fewer abortions performed in Wisconsin in 2002 that in 2001. Stassen counts South Dakota as one of the states in which abortions have increased since George W. Bush became president, pointing to what he says is a 2.1% increase from 2001 to 2002. In fact, figures from the state health agency for that period show a decrease of 9.7% during that time frame. Stassen appears to have been looking at the number of births, which did increase by 2.1 percent over these years.

When one shifts Wisconsin and South Dakota to the decrease column, and adds in Illinois after its dramatic 2003 drop in abortions, Stassen's claim that abortions have increased in 11 out of 16 states now turns into a 8 to 8 tie, with as many states decreasing as increasing. Hardly anything definitive.

The large increases that Stassen cites for four of the 16 states – Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, and Michigan – raise other questions. Do these really represent sudden, big one-time increases or is some other explanation more plausible? There is reason to believe these may be unrepresentative aberrations attributable to changes in the gathering of statistics rather than to massive behavioral changes.

Look at Arizona, where Stassen reports a 26.4% increase occurring in a single year between 2001 and 2002. While admitting that its figures did show abortions increasing from 8,226 in 2001 to 10,397 in 2002, yielding the enormous 26.4% increase Stassen cites, Arizona's Department of Health Services cautioned in its report that "It is unclear whether this increase in the number of reported abortions represents a true increase in the actual number of abortions performed, or, perhaps, a better response rate of providers of non-surgical (so called medical) terminations of pregnancy."

It was, of course, Bill Clinton, not George W. Bush, who was responsible for the approval of RU486, the abortion pill, which went on the market in late 2000. While the impact of that decision, and the massive marketing campaign mounted by the abortion industry, has yet to be fully determined, increases triggered by that decision surely lay at the doorstep of that administration rather than the current one.

Other local factors may be at play. New clinics may open, release of state funds may pump fresh cash into "family planning" agencies which offer abortion "on the side" (Missouri), state health departments may get numbers from clinics which did not previously report (reporting is often voluntary, not required).

The upshot of all this is that there really aren't enough data to clearly determine where the national trend is going at this point, and certainly no evidence of an nationwide abortion increase to lay at the doorstep of the Bush administration.

Here's a more informed analysis (okay, demolition job) of that inane abortion piece from this weekend.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 20, 2004 5:19 PM

"Dr." Glen Harold Stassen is the Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary.
His sloppy research, questionable analysis, (he claims to be an "expert" in statistical analysis), and obvious axe to grind are once again sad proof that advanced degrees don't guarantee an education, knowledge, or intelligence.

I really, really hate to see academics pervert their life work for, at best, short term gain, and in many cases, no gain whatsoever.
If one has dedicated their life to the pursuit of knowledge, or at least the dissemination of it, and then purposefully distorts that information to achieve a petty, short-term gain, what happens to one's self-respect ?
After making a mockery of their entire careers, academics who prostitute knowledge are left with self-loathing, hollow lives, and a cynical, self-serving worldview.

Unless, of course, they're idiots, in which case they fail to comprehend what they've done, selling their birthrights for a mess of pottage.

I note that being a Professor of Ethics, and Christian ethics, at that, didn't stop "Dr." Stassen from trying to con the American public.

On a slightly different subject, Orrin, if you don't believe that science works, why are you at all concerned about whether ol' Glen got his figures right ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 20, 2004 6:51 PM

>Orrin, if you don't believe that science works,
>why are you at all concerned about whether ol'
>Glen got his figures right?

Probably because This Isn't Evolution.

What I would like to know is how abortion got to be The Mark of True Femaleness instead of childbearing (which despite kooks and gay activist brags, males are still unable to do).

"Blessed is the womb that never bore,
and the teats that never gave suck..."

Posted by: Ken at October 20, 2004 8:21 PM

Well, Bush did account for one abortion, but that was in Mexico, way before he "became" President.

Posted by: Jimmy at October 20, 2004 10:27 PM

It never ceases to astound me how many people don't understand the most basic things about the US Constitution, such as how American Presidents are elected.

Right, Jimmy ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 20, 2004 11:14 PM