Thursday, March 18, 2010

Another Whopper on Health Care Reform from Politics Daily's David Gibson

Politics Daily columnist David Gibson is pointing to this paper in the New England Journal of Medicine by Patrick Whelan as evidence that health care reform will reduce abortions. The paper notes that the number of abortions performed in Massachusetts dropped 1.5% in the 2 years after Massachusetts implemented their health care reform legislation.

Now most people would recognize that dropping abortion by 1.5% over two years isn’t really proof that Massachusetts’ health care reform reduced abortions yet Gibson titles his column, “Massachusetts Study: Health Care Reform Reduced Abortions.”

If you read the study, you notice it doesn’t really say “Health Care Reform Reduced Abortions” since only someone who doesn’t know anything about abortion statistics would assume that the implementation of one thing would be the sole cause of a drop in a rather small drop in abortions without doing a study that eliminated a bunch of other factors.

In reality, abortions have been decreasing in Massachusetts for more than a decade as Patrick Whelan notes in his paper.
Overall, since 2000, the number of abortions in Massachusetts has dropped by 12% (from 27,180 to 23,883) and by nearly 36% since 1991.

Whelan never makes the claim that Massachusetts’ health care reform reduced abortion instead he assumes that federal health care reform wouldn’t increase the number of abortions.
I believe it is reasonable to conclude that the possibility of some federal subsidization of overall care, for a fraction of the additional 31 million people who would be covered, would not mean a significant or even a likely increase in the number of abortions performed nationally.

What’s really interesting about the Massachusetts’ statistics is that almost the entire drop of abortions for the entire population came from a drop in teen abortions. From 2006 to 2008, the number of abortions performed in Massachusetts fell from 24,245 to 23,883. A drop of 362 abortions. In the same time frame teen abortions dropped to 3,726 in 2008. Whelan doesn’t list the 2006 total but says the decline is 7.4% for teens. My math puts the 2006 number at 4,024. So teen abortions dropped 298.

With the drop in teen abortions making up 82.3% of the entire abortion decline over two years, you’d think Whelan would attempt to provide evidence that Massachusetts’ health care reform significantly improved access to health care for teens.

He doesn’t.

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