Friday, October 12, 2007

Interesting Study

I'm looking online for the actual published study, but the NY Times had an interesting article on a recent WHO article on abortion rates across countries. Essentially, abortion rates were uncorrelated with the legality of abortion. Anecdotal evidence from the article:

In Uganda, where abortion is illegal and sex education programs focus only on abstinence, the estimated abortion rate was 54 per 1,000 women in 2003, more than twice the rate in the United States, 21 per 1,000 in that year. The lowest rate, 12 per 1,000, was in Western Europe, with legal abortion and widely available contraception.

A correlation that did arise in the data was that places where abortion was illegal had much higher mortality rates for women who did get abortions - presumably because of sub-standard conditions. However, without seeing the whole study it's hard to say if this is really meaningful because countries in which abortion is illegal may be, on average, poorer in the first place and have fewer quality hospital facilities.

This seems to me to be an important point in the whole abortion debate. Those who would like a full ban, it seems fair to assume, are hoping to lower the number of abortions. However, evidence suggests that numbers are not likely to decrease. And this makes some sense. If you actually want to limit the number of abortions, you're best bet would be to outlaw hormones, because they, not Roe v. Wade, are the cause of most abortions today.

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