Friday, October 12, 2007

Worldwide abortion "study"

This story unfortunately labels this never ending compilation of estimates based on estimates from pro-choice researchers funded by the World Health Organization "a study." You'll have to complete an easy free registration to read the report.

For some reason the story above claims:
On the basis of the 2003 data, on average 90 percent of women worldwide will have had an abortion before the age of 45, the study calculates.
That's just an absolutely ridiculous statistical claim. So ridiculous that I couldn't even imagine it being in this estimate of estimates "study." It's not. I can't see anything in the paper which estimates how many women will have abortions during their lives. Where did the writer of this story come up with that statistic? Mark this as more evidence you should be careful to take what you read from the media with a grain of salt.

A Fox News story has this on the 90% statistic:
The study also found that, on average, 90 percent of women worldwide will have an abortion before the age of 45, based on 2003 data. However, many women will have had multiple abortions and many none at all to come to this average.
Hmmm..... So what happened here? Did one of the researchers when talking to a reporter claim something like this and at least one reporter couldn't understand or did some reporter try to do some math and didn't realize that a high percentage of abortions are performed on women who've already had a previous abortion? For example, if you multiple 42 million abortions by 30 years (the approximate number of reproductive years between 15 and 45) you get 1.260 billion abortions. When you look at a breakdown of the world's population by age and sex you get around 1.516 billion women between the ages of 15 and 44. 1.260 billion is 83% of 1.516 billion. So a claim you could make if you accepted the estimate of estimates and guessed the abortion rate would stay approximately continuous for 30 years is that there is an approximate average of .83 abortions in the world per the reproductive life of each woman.

Also of note - one estimate which throws a wrench in the belief of some pro-choicers that countries with legal abortion have fewer abortions is Eastern Europe. The paper estimates that the region with the highest abortion ratio (abortions per live births) is Eastern Europe where they have more abortions than live births. The next closest region is Eastern Asia where they estimate there is approximately one abortion for every two live births. As far as I know, the only place in Eastern Europe where abortion is prohibited is Poland.

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