Kirsten Powers attempts to debunk the claim that increased access to contraception prevents unwanted abortions:
In the U.S., the story isn’t much different. A January 2011 fact sheet by the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute listed all the reasons that women who have had an abortion give for their unexpected pregnancy, and not one of them is lack of access to contraception. In fact, 54 percent of women who had abortions had used a contraceptive method, if incorrectly, in the month they got pregnant. For the 46 percent who had not used contraception, 33 percent had perceived themselves to be at low risk for pregnancy; 32 percent had had concerns about contraceptive methods; 26 percent had had unexpected sex, and 1 percent had been forced to have sex. Not one fraction of 1 percent said they got pregnant because they lacked access to contraception. Some described having unexpected sex, but all that can be said about them is that they are irresponsible, not that they felt they lacked access to contraception.
Lack of knowledge of contraception also isn’t a reason that American women get abortions. Guttmacher reported that only 8 percent of women who undergo abortions have never used a method of birth control
But what is truly astonishing about the Guttmacher statistics is that they are completely unchanged from a decade ago.
In the year 2000, Guttmacher experts reported: “Forty-six percent of women [seeking abortions] had not used a contraceptive method in the month they conceived, mainly because of perceived low risk of pregnancy and concerns about contraception. More than half of women obtaining abortions in 2000 (54 percent) had been using a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant.”
These are exactly the same as the 2011 numbers.
SHAZAM! Sounds kinda devasting, doesn’t it? Powers then snarks, “By the way, [the] Guttmacher [Institute] was founded by Planned Parenthood; these are the numbers the group views as the most reliable.”
Zoiks! Well, let’s see what Guttmacher actually says (pdf; p. 16; italics mine):
By providing millions of women with access to the contraceptive services they want and need, public funding for family planning helps women avoid 1.94 million unintended pregnancies each year (Figure 2.4, page 15). An estimated 450,000 of these unintended pregnancies are prevented as a result of services provided by private doctors under Medicaid. Yet, publicly supported family planning centers are the dominant source of services–helping women avoid 1.48 million unintended pregnancies. Fully 300,000 of these pregnancies averted with the help of family planning centers would have occurred among teens, and just over one million would have occurred among poor and lowincome women. Centers that receive some Title X funds provide services that enable women to avoid nearly one million unintended pregnancies each year.
Enabling these women to avoid an unintended pregnancy reduces the number of women and couples confronting the choice between turning to abortion and having a birth they did not intend to have. Without publicly supported family planning services, the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions occurring in the United States each year would be nearly two-thirds higher among women overall and among teens (Figure 2.5); the number of unintended pregnancies among poor women would nearly double. Without the services provided just in centers receiving Title X funds, unintended pregnancy in the United States would be 31% higher. And absent publicly supported services, the U.S. abortion rate today would be higher than it ever has been.
Hunh. You don’t say.
Powers screws up by not asking the right question: how often do women who correctly use contraception become pregnant? Obviously, such women are going to show up very infrequently in a survey of women who have abortions. Powers also neglects to qualify contraception use–most women did not have good compliance (pdf):
Forty-six percent of women had not used a contraceptive method in the month they conceived, mainly because of perceived low risk of pregnancy and concerns about contraception (cited by 33% and 32% of nonusers, respectively). The male condom was the most commonly reported method among all women (28%), followed by the pill (14%). Inconsistent method use was the main cause of pregnancy for 49% of condom users and 76% of pill users; 42% of condom users cited condom breakage or slippage as a reason for pregnancy. Substantial proportions of pill and condom users indicated perfect method use (13-14%).
Instead, Powers accuses Planned Parenthood of “ignoring basic statistics about their area of expertise.”*
Pots calling kettles black, and all of that.
*Powers also ignores this part of the mission statement:
…in making effective means of voluntary fertility regulation, including contraception, abortion, sterilization, and infertility services, available and fully accessible to all as a central element to reproductive healthcare
Gotta love quote-mining.