24 September 2008

Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.

Study Finds Major Shift in Abortion Demographics

Abortion. THE topic for lighting any social situation on fire. Want to kill a great party? Want to drive a wedge between a new couple? Let's talk about where life starts, the role of the government in utero and watch it all burn.

But many times this is pure speculation; many people who can talk about abortion till they are blue in the face have never had one, I'd guess that fully half will never even get the chance (I'm looking at you gentlemen). So, who is having abortions?

During that period [1974-2004], the proportion of abortions obtained by women younger than 20 dropped steadily, falling from 33 percent in 1974 to 17 percent in 2004. For those younger than 18, it fell from 15 percent of all abortions in 1974 to 6 percent in 2004. At the same time, the proportion of abortions obtained by women in their 20s increased from 50 percent to 57 percent, and the share done for women age 30 and older rose from 18 percent to 27 percent.

Younger women are having fewer abortions, while older women are having more. Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, 35 years ago. The group of women that make up the 30 and older has gone from people born 30 years before Roe v. Wade, to people born right around the same time. The women that were 18 in 1973 were late Baby Boomers; women that were 18 in 2004 were, well, me and my friends.

So what hypothesis are being tossed about to explain these changes?

"A lot of policymakers are stuck 30 years back when most women getting abortions are teenagers and college students, and that isn't so much the case these days." (Rachel Jones, a senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute.)
"Birth control is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies," said Laurie Rubiner, vice president for public policy at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "Unfortunately there's a large number of uninsured people in this country, and if you are uninsured you are less likely to have access to affordable health care, including affordable birth control."
Michael J. New, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama who works with the Family Research Council, attributed the drop in teenage pregnancies to a combination of factors, including increased contraceptive use, more teenagers delaying sex and state laws requiring parental consent.

"The states with the most active pro-life laws have seen the biggest abortion declines," he said.

[Remember, Family Research Council is more aptly called the Patriarchy Research Council]

While I think the first two hypothesis are much smarter than the last one, I think there might be a generational argument to be made. My parents are late Baby Boomers, and the social pressures about sex and abortion have changed drastically from when my mother was my age. I've long believed that the more society represses sex, the less healthy it becomes. The harder you push the line that sex is only for marriage the more pre- and extra-marital sex there is and the more risky it will be.

So as sex has become something its okay to talk about, the safer and healthier it has become. Safer and healthier sex leads to fewer pregnancies and fewer pregnancies lead to fewer abortions. Despite the push of the Patriarchy groups and the Bush administration for Abstinence Only Education, there is more knowledge out there about safe sex than ever before. The youngins can hop on the internet and learn more about sex than their sex-ed teachers could tell them about.

In conclusion, read Dan Savage's column. It is the best sex advice out there paired with the most hilarious kinks out there. 

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