Professor Glen Stassen has weighed in again with his most recent attempt to support his notion that abortions have increased under President Bush. Thanks to Dave at Big Lowitzki for pointing me to the article.
Back in October of 2004, Glen Stassen wrote an article that was featured at Sojourners and in some daily newspapers. I critiqued that piece here.
If you want more background go to posts at Between Two Worlds here, here, and here.
I don't have big problems with some of Stassen's article. I agree that our country should help women in unplanned pregnancies and also work to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions by reaching out to women in need. I know not everyone agrees on the best way to go about doing these things but a large number of people on both the prolife and pro-choice sides agree this should be accomplished. I do have problems with his faulty use of faulty statistics, his political theories (the President is in direct control of the economy), his reasoning and some of his theology. I'll mostly focus on the abortion statistics because that is more my area of expertise and what I find truly horrible from someone who is a professor in Christian ethics.
For some reason (probably because he signed a document more than a decade ago that supported the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions and tax dollars being used to pay for abortions) Stassen feels that it is necessary to share his son's story and how his wife works as a nurse at a high school for pregnant teens. He does this to show that his prolife commitments are "deep." I find this interesting because if Stassen is really prolife in the sense that most of the think when we say "prolife" (being in favor of making all or a significant numbers of abortions illegal) then he wouldn't have to do this. He could merely come out and say that he thinks that abortion should be illegal. Of all the pieces I've seen by him - he's never done this. Not once. The fact is that there are numerous people who knew about their child's handicap before birth and still choose life but they are still pro-choice in the traditional meaning of the word (they think that abortion should stay legal). Most people use the term "prolife" to describe how they feel about the legality of abortion not to describe that they want less abortions. If the latter approach is correct then even NARAL could be considered "prolife."
Stassen continues to throw around flawed statistics long after those statistics have been shown to him to be flawed. He says, "But in 2002, the first full year of the Bush presidency, abortions increased in the 16 states for which I could find data by a total of 5,855. If the data from the rest of the nation fit that pattern, abortions increased nationwide in 2002 by about 24,000 a year, reversing the dramatic decreases of the 1990s."
Stassen then uses these statistics through his entire piece as a fact that abortions have increased in the last 4 years when no one is really sure if they've increased or not. For one, sixteen states aren't necessarily representatives of all 50 states, especially if they aren't randomly selected. This has been pointed out to Stassen and he again has chosen to ignore it. He has also chosen to ignore that the large increases for two states (Arizona and Colorado) that he uses are most likely because abortionists weren't reporting the number of abortions performed in previous years. As National Right to Life points out in their long rebuttal of Stassen:
"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.'"
"State officials in Colorado, where Stassen reported an astronomical 67.4% one year increase, recently revamped their reporting regimen to address underreporting, and sent a note to abortion providers reminding them that reporting was required in Colorado. The state said they expected an increase in reports, and declared, ‘No one could or should conclude that this anticipated increase in the rate of reported terminations reflects an increase in the true rate.'"
Colorado reported 4,633 abortion in 2001 according to the CDC - 67.4% of 4,633 is 3,122. Stassen's number of 5,855 more abortions from 2001 to 2002 is mostly (over 90%) made up of the faulty statistics from Arizona (an increase of 2,171) and Colorado (an increase of 3,122) which combine for 5,293 of Stassen's 5,855 abortions. The fact that Stassen is still using these statistics and passing them off as fact after the errors in them have been pointed out to him is reprehensible and intellectually dishonest.
Stassen has unveiled a new faulty statistic - abortion rates from the CDC. He says, " The abortion rate reported by the Centers for Disease Control stayed steady at 24 or 23 per 1,000 women of child-bearing age from 1978 through 1992 (the last year of Bush the elder's administration), but then dropped dramatically to 17 per 1,000 by 1998 (the fifth year of the Clinton administration), as the unemployment rate also dropped dramatically."
This is another example of how Stassen manipulates statistics to attempt to prove his point. He uses the abortion rate from 1998 because 1998 was the first year that California stopped reporting their abortions to the CDC. In 1997, California reported 275,739 abortions to the CDC with an abortion rate of 38 (almost double the national average), in that same year the abortion rate for the entire country was 20 according to the CDC. Anyone with the slightest background in statistics can tell how eliminating the most populous state in the America with an enormous abortion rate from the abortion statistics is going to drop the abortion rate. Magically, the abortion rate for the entire nation dropped from 20 in 1997 to 17 in 1998. Largely not because of unemployment drops - but because California's statistics were not included.
Glen Stassen might get more people from the prolife camp to listen to him and his views if he stopped being dishonest with statistics. The way he pushes faulty statistics as facts to back up his view makes him seem more like a Democratic party hack than a Christian man who is truly concerned about women in unplanned pregnancies and their unborn children.