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  1. B.A.
    B.A. October 18, 2007 at 5:06 pm |

    What was the effect of Roe v. Wade on the abortion rates in the 15 states where abortion had previously been legal? That might be a fairer comparison point.

  2. zencomix
    zencomix October 18, 2007 at 5:12 pm |

    The questionable statistics of “everyone knows” is similar to the questionable sources of “some say”. Everyone Knows that the rate of divorce for Repubicans is higher than the rate for Democrats. Some Say this is caused by an excessive amount of indulgence in bathroom stall fetishes.Everyone Knows Bush has fallen off the wagon. Some Say he never got on the wagon in the first place.

  3. Shankar Gupta
    Shankar Gupta October 18, 2007 at 6:01 pm |

    I’m struggling to think of an example in American history where a ban on consensual behavior (in this case, consensual between a woman and her doctor) has actually decreased the incidence of that behavior. It certainly has not worked on drugs, alcohol, prostitution or gambling.

  4. AAnon
    AAnon October 18, 2007 at 6:50 pm |

    # Shankar Gupta Says:
    October 18th, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    I’m struggling to think of an example in American history where a ban on consensual behavior (in this case, consensual between a woman and her doctor) has actually decreased the incidence of that behavior. It certainly has not worked on drugs, alcohol, prostitution or gambling.

    Wait a second — that’s simply not correct. Just because those things are *prevalent* now doesn’t mean outlawing them did not decrease the incidence of the behavior. Is there more gambling in states where it’s legal than where it’s not? Is there more prostitution in states where it’s legal than where it’s not? Etc. Let’s not confuse “Hasn’t eradicated” with “hasn’t decreased.” (And if there are stats on all these to show that criminalization doesn’t decrease frequency, let’s see ‘em.)

    Whatever the merits of this argument overall, criminalizing things and punishing people for doing them tends to, in general, decrease the occurrences of that behavior. A major point of this whole donnybrook is that it’s *surprising* to hear about a study that says outlawing abortion does not reduce its frequency, simply because, again, criminalizing something usually reduces how much/often it’s done.

  5. Simon
    Simon October 18, 2007 at 7:13 pm |

    Wouldn’t the problems in collecting pre-Roe abortion data also plague data collection in the countries in which abortion is illegal?

  6. X. Trapnel
    X. Trapnel October 18, 2007 at 7:16 pm |

    Shankar, that’s not actually right at all. Prohibition really did decrease drinking. It obviously didn’t stamp it out, and it caused lots of unintended consequences with respect to crime, and it was a terrible terrible idea, etc., but it did reduce drinking.

    See here: http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/full/21/2/120 (The Economics Of Alcohol Abuse And Alcohol-Control Policies, Philip J. Cook and Michael J. Moore, Health Affairs 21(2)).

    A traditional indicator of the prevalence of chronic heavy drinking in a population is the mortality rate from liver cirrhosis.18 Although cirrhosis has a variety of causes, drinking accounts for a majority of cirrhosis deaths in population groups where drinking is common. There is considerable evidence that cirrhosis death rates are sensitive to alcohol availability, which suggests that the group at risk for alcohol-related cirrhosis, long-term heavy drinkers, is at least somewhat sensitive to price. Notable examples have been associated with alcohol prohibition and with the economic disruptions during the First and Second World Wars.19 (For example, the cirrhosis mortality rate dropped to half of its 1914 level by 1920 because of state and wartime prohibition and remained at the new low level throughout the Prohibition period.)20

    Just because Prohibition failed to stop drinking completely doesn’t mean it had no effect.

    Similarly, some people really have tried to study the impact of legal restrictions, all else equal, on abortion rates (which the Guttmacher study wasn’t trying to do; it was showing overall rates and changes in the last decade, which is valuable in itself). I admit: I don’t know this stuff. My only real exposure comes from taking a class with Steve Levitt; whether or not you think his abortion-reduces-crime claim is garbage, he really does have some cites for his claim that it in fact made a difference.

    I came across an interesting paper, “Induced Abortion and Fertility: A Quarter Century of Experience in Eastern Europe,” by Tomas Frejka, Population and Development Review, 1983, that shows a dramatic shift downward in the otherwise gradually declining live birth rate precisely when East Germany liberalized its law in 1972; I assume looking at birth rates is how most researchers try to get around the problem of unreported illegal abortions.

    If you do find good sources that try to get directly at the independent causal impact of legal restrictions on rates, I’d certainly be interested in knowing.

  7. brandann
    brandann October 18, 2007 at 7:17 pm |

    oh snap!

    i love it when the numbers back us up!

    thanx zuzu! great post!

  8. Mickle
    Mickle October 18, 2007 at 7:31 pm |

    I plead guilty. And thanks for the correction.

  9. kate
    kate October 18, 2007 at 7:41 pm |

    Prohibition had deadly consequences as well, the affliction known as “St. Vitus’s Dance” was caused quite often by the increased use of home distilled alcohol. Home distillers often used old radiator parts for the works which were heavy in lead. St. Vitus’s Dance afflictions rose dramatically during prohibition years, so much so that there was at least one popular ragtime song about it.

    Also, home distillers often brewed a stronger tonic, that caused quite a few more deaths by alcohol poisoning than when alcohol brewing was under some control and regulation. Also, there’s the whole issue of the proliferation of gang crime due to prohibition as well. Fact is, where there is a demand, there will be someone to meet it.

    Is it worth the extra cost and human toll to continue to prohibit those things for which demand cannot be controlled? This issue comes up often with the drug laws, won over the ending of prohibition. But what the anti-abortion crowd will not allow to come to the table is that demand for abortion will continue and people will continue to be there to meet that demand.

    Without regulation and oversight for public safety, the one needing the product or service is exploited and often the loss due to such is borne by greater society. With alcohol and many other ‘sins’ such as gambling, society has accepted its existence begrudgingly and prefers regulation to complete banning.

    But unlike male enjoyed habits such as drinking, gambling and even drugs (although that has many other factors at play which prevent legalization), where the demand is accepted begrudgingly and allowed to exist under regulation, society still will not see abortion in the same light.

    Our society cannot and will not come to terms with allowing women to make up their own minds about much of anything and would rather continue the effort to control women’s behavior and have a ready punishment (forced pregnancy) for those who do not comply.

    I also have a real problem with Ross and the others’ comparison of pre legal and post legalized abortion availability and use. Nowhere in their analysis is the admission that illegal abortions kill and main women. Nowhere also in their analysis is the cost of women trapped into forced motherhood and even worse repercussions of carrying a pregnancy to term.
    Apparently dead, maimed or trapped women don’t figure into the picture and the costs to society of such are not worth considering either.

  10. Em
    Em October 18, 2007 at 8:32 pm |

    Is this poor guy aware that his name is a contraction of douchebag and asshat? Oh the humanity.

  11. Redstar
    Redstar October 18, 2007 at 9:42 pm |

    This is why you should always read the footnotes!!! Way to keep at it, Zuzu!

  12. JivinJ
    JivinJ October 19, 2007 at 8:25 am |

    Zuzu,
    By the early 1980′s there were around 1.5 million abortions a year. Do you think there were that many abortions (legal or illegal) a year before 1973?

    I think the largest estimate I’ve seen for abortions per year pre-Roe is 1.2 million (which is an absurd estimate because there were only around 750,000 legal abortions after Roe). It makes no sense that less women decided to have abortions when it became legal.

  13. Sheesh
    Sheesh October 19, 2007 at 10:03 am |

    It’s a disgusting, but not shocking attitude.

    White males know better than the rest of us. About everything. You know, whether they actually do or not.

  14. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte October 19, 2007 at 10:26 am |

    One reason that people tend to believe that the abortion rate skyrocketed post-Roe is that the number of white infants on the adoption market plummeted. However, it doesn’t follow that abortion was why those babies were not being put up for adoption. The feminist movement accomplished quite a bit in a short period of time, and helped remake women’s views about a number of things, and single motherhood was one of those things. Prior to the era of legal abortion, white women who got pregnant out of wedlock were basically held hostage in maternity homes and had their babies taken from them. After the Roe era, those women probably just kept their babies.

    The spike in single motherhood is sufficient to explain the change in the adoption market, leaving the strong and well-documented possibility that the abortion rate stayed roughly the same pre- and post-Roe.

  15. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte October 19, 2007 at 10:35 am |

    It’s worth examining the period of history right before Roe, because that was the era of the highest crackdown on women for having sex out of wedlock. The landscape was marked by maternity homes and many (most?) hospitals had a constant septic abortion problem—this is the era that anti-choicers wish to return to, with teenage girls locked in prison for having sex and women suffering and dying in septic abortion wards. Prior to this crackdown, women could generally get abortions safely on the underground and adoption was informal and thus didn’t involve prison-like sentences to maternity homes. Legalization came as part of a backlash against the wingnutty excesses of the 50s and 60s.

  16. harlemjd
    harlemjd October 19, 2007 at 11:37 am |

    JivinJ –

    Another thing you need to consider when comparing abortion rates pre- and post-Roe is that there is a difference between “abortions performed in the U.S.” and “abortions performed on American women.” Women with the means to travel to places where abortion was safe and legal (such as the U.K.) would do so; after Roe, there was no need. So part of the post-Roe increase in abortions in the U.S. would presumably be attributable to a shift in the location of abortions that had been happening before Roe.

  17. Peter
    Peter October 19, 2007 at 11:52 am |

    Additionally, things are going to (have been?) skewed by the fact that there is a huge overlap among the run-up to Roe, the whole contraception issue – contraception was illegal in large parts of the US until not really all that long before Roe, and the women’s movement in general.

    Using the number of white babies up for adoption as any measure of the number of abortions, when so much related social change was going on is problematical at best.

  18. elyzabethe
    elyzabethe October 19, 2007 at 12:33 pm |

    It’s worth examining the period of history right before Roe, because that was the era of the highest crackdown on women for having sex out of wedlock.

    I think that’s an interesting point. Even if the number of (legal and illegal) abortions did rise from after Roe compared to the previous two decades, how did it compare to pre-1950s America? I read a really interesting story the other day (and I forget where, sorry) about this woman who was shocked when her teen daughter got pregnant in the 1950s and the doctor wouldn’t recommend an abortion … she herself had gotten pregnant as a teen in the 1930s, and she said the first thing the doctor said was “do you want to take care of it?” She explained that in her time, doctors were much more apt to realize that money was tight and people couldn’t always have kids at that time, and it wasn’t such a big deal, she knew many people who’d done the same thing. It’s interesting, too, because I’m reading a Fitzgerald book right now, and the main female character gets pregnant and she’s not thrilled with having children and her first question is whether she should have it or not, and the discussion is framed as such that if she decides not to, it’s not that big of a deal …

  19. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne October 19, 2007 at 1:04 pm |

    I recommend it all the time, but if anyone is under the illusion that abortion and contraception weren’t discussed until the 1960s, take a look at Kevin Brownlow’s Behind the Mask of Innocence, which is about social problem films of the silent era. Yes, people were making films about abortion, STDs, drug abuse and alcoholism in 1919, but film censorship (both voluntary and involuntary) swept all of that stuff under the rug and gave people today a very strange idea of what life was like in the 1930s and 1940s.

  20. Sailorman
    Sailorman October 19, 2007 at 2:11 pm |

    An analysis based on a question from the other thread:

    # Hector B. Says:
    October 18th, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    Sailorman said: I have little doubt that the absolute number of abortions is increased by making them legal; economics would suggest no other option. But so what?

    The message from the Lancet article seems to be that women who need an abortion will get one even if it might kill them, not that they are getting them because they appreciate a bargain.

    First, a caveat: I don’t care whether the number is higher or not. Abortions don’t bother me; dead people do. But I’ll explain anyway why it is extremely likely that legalizing abortions results in an overall increase in abortions**

    Women who could theoretically get an abortion fall into one of three general groups:

    1) Women who WILL get an abortion whether or not it is legal. In other words, women for whom the legality of abortion has no effect on their decision.

    2) Women who WILL NOT get an abortion irrespective of illegality. these women are also women for whom the legality of abortion has no effect on their decision.

    3) Women who WILL get an abortion if it is illegal, but who WILL NOT get an abortion if it is illegal. This is the only subset of women for which legality matters at all.

    The harshness of the penalties, generally speaking, can affect the movement between groups 1 and 3: if the penalty for an illegal abortion was “death for you and your family” then women would move from group 1 to group 3.

    The availability of alternatives to abortion, generally speaking, controls the movement in and out of group 2.

    Other factors control movements as well.**

    Anyway, all that this means:

    I have little doubt that the absolute number of abortions is increased by making them legal; economics would suggest no other option.

    or all that this means:

    it is likely that making abortions illegal increased the number of abortions

    is that the number of women in Group 3 is more than zero. And that (unlike illegal alcohol or drugs) the act of making abortion illegal doesn’t make abortion more appealing to any realistically countable portion of society.

    But anyway, by making abortion illegal you get two results.
    You “stop” the abortions of women in Group 3. If you’re a conservative, you feel happy.

    But remember those women in Group1? They get abortions anyway. Which means that (as per stats I quoted earlier) they get about a 100-fold increase in mortality, and a host of other problems. If this makes you happy, that’s a problem.

    Not incidentally, does anyone recognize this analysis? It’s the same analysis that applies to HPV vaccination and sexual behavior, though with different inputs.

    Illegality really makes no sense, even though it probably redices absolute #s.

    ** Here’s the caveat: This model of three groups contains only women who are eligible to have an abortion, e.g. women who are pregnant. It doesn’t take into account external factors that affect how many women get pregnant.

    Some of those factors are possibly pretty relevant. It may be that illegal abortions are more expensive–this could (hypothetically) mean that people had less money to spend on post-abortion birth control, and could result in the odd result of an increase in total abortions.

    It’s also possible that more abortions >> better women’s freedom >> better women’s rights >> better contraception >> fewer abortions.

    But the basic model is still pretty sound. At some point, it’s a guessing game. And because none of those factors really change the “illegal is stupid” analysis so I didn’t spend as much time on them.

  21. JivinJ
    JivinJ October 19, 2007 at 2:12 pm |

    Zuzu,
    Of course it took some time for the illegal abortionists to start performing abortions legally but you still didn’t answer the question. Are you assuming there were hundreds of thousands of illegal abortions after Roe? If not, then I don’t see how you can justify the idea that legalizing abortion didn’t dramatically raised the number of abortions performed in America without believing there were 1.5 million abortions a year before Roe. I know of no pro-choicer researcher who believes there were 1.5 million abortions in the U.S. before Roe.

    How many abortions (legal and illegal combined) do you think occurred before Roe?

    You’re also assuming demand has no relation to supply – which is a position which you seemed to hold the opposite of with your comments on the other thread regard South Dakota abortions vs. New York abortions.

    Harlemjd,
    Do you think a sizeable number of American women flew to the UK for abortions? Maybe some. But it would make more sense to go to New York or California between 1970 and 1973.

  22. harlemjd
    harlemjd October 19, 2007 at 2:46 pm |

    JivinJ –

    I’m not saying that the entire discrepancy is due to abortions that happened elsewhere, just that some of it is. And given that abortion law in the UK (passed in 1967 and so in force in the years immediately pre-Roe) are more liberal than most state laws at the time, (or even today) I wouldn’t be at all surprised that American women of sufficient means went to the UK for abortions.

  23. harlemjd
    harlemjd October 19, 2007 at 2:51 pm |

    Also, Canada began allowing medically indicated abortions in 1969, so at least some women in northern states were probably going there.

  24. radical mama
    radical mama October 19, 2007 at 4:15 pm |

    Linda Gorden’s Woman’s Bodies, Woman’s Rights gives the following stats:

    In the 1890s, doctors estimated that they performed 2 mil. abortions per year. (That would not include self-induced abortions with knitting needles or poisonous abortificants.) And that was with a lower national population, too.

    In 1881, Michigan estimated that 1/3 of pregnancies were terminated.

    Although abortion was illegal in most states by 1900, in 1921, abortion rates were higher than they were pre-1900.

    There are other stats in that book as well, and she cites her sources if you’re curious. Abortion rates are lower now, and they were lower in 1973, than in the 19th century.

  25. JivinJ
    JivinJ October 19, 2007 at 4:32 pm |

    Zuzu,
    Certainly not all abortion providers after Roe were abortion providers before it but when Planned Parenthood’s medical director claims in 1965 that 90% of illegal abortions were provided by physicians in good medical standing it seems reasonable to believe that a sizeable number of abortion providers pre-Roe stayed on as abortion providers post-Roe.

    I bring up the 1.5 million number because you’re still trying to claim that we don’t know if legalizing abortion nationwide led to the abortion rate going up dramatically. The only way to believe that is to believe there were around 1.5 million abortions in the U.S. pre-Roe. Now maybe you could say there were 1.1-1.4 million abortions pre-Roe and an increase of 100,000 – 400,000 isn’t dramatic.

    My point is I’d like you to be realistic. You can’t honestly believe around 500,000 illegal abortions (how were they illegal, by the way? Non-physician? Self-induced?) occurred in 1973 post-Roe?

  26. Thomas, TSID
    Thomas, TSID October 19, 2007 at 6:02 pm |

    JivinJ, I think Zuzu has you on the demographic change. Is there a statistically significant difference in abortion rate per childbearing-age woman at 1.2 million in 1972 versus 1.5 at 1979? Or can that be accounted for by the Boomers getting older?

  27. Bunny
    Bunny October 19, 2007 at 6:03 pm |

    JivinJ,

    I’m not familiar on abortion laws in the US in detail. What were the limits on abortion in the 70s? The same as today? Did women have to abort within the first trimester? Did underage girls doing so need to inform their parents? Under what situations would a legal abortion be refused?

    The illegal abortions would be in part performed by people who were excluded by whatever limits were imposed. That should be pretty obvious.

    And yeah, if you’re only looking at the absolute numbers of people having abortions, of course there will be an increase. More people generally in existence means more people getting pregnant and more abortions as well as births.

  28. RKMK
    RKMK October 19, 2007 at 6:34 pm |

    How’s this for a statistic: my mother had an abortion, late 60s/early 70s, illegally. (We’re in Canada, FYI.)

    Why did she have an illegal abortion? Because she was only 18, her father was a violent alcoholic, and would have beaten/killed her if he’d found out she was pregnant. Not to mention, she wouldn’t have the means to support a child, or even herself if she chose to carry the child to term; in the event her father wasn’t able to kill her, she’d certainly have been kicked out. She would have been 18, only a high school graduate, trying to find someone to hire a young pregnant woman who would have to leave months later. Obviously, a wonderful situation all around.

    She went to some back-alley place in Toronto, where they sterilized her with bleach after the procedure. Her pelvic area burned for a week afterwards.

    And everytime she listens to these assholes who want to make it illegal, she’s horrified: “We can’t go back to that. We can’t, it’s inhumane.

    Mom ended up the mother of two children, a few years later. She didn’t hate the idea of having children. She just couldn’t fathom the idea of having children then, and was desperate enough to break the law to do so.

    And that’s why the back and forth on this is ridiculous, and also why those White Liberal Dudez are making asses of themselves while we discuss this. They sneer at our use of the words “privilege”, but what else is it? They careen through their lives ignorant of the realities of this kind of choice; god knows that they likely know dozens of women who’ve made similar choices, and would do it again even if were illegal – but likely don’t know it. Maybe their mothers have similar stories to that of my mother, but the topic never came up over the pot roast; my mother didn’t tell me until I was 25, and only after she’d seen me blogging continually about choice issues and was reasonably sure that I wouldn’t judge her for it.

    The Liberal White Dudes are surrounded by this issue, far more than they know. Women don’t speak about their personal choices of this kind because it is taboo; you only discuss it amongst your closest of close friends – because with a hot topic like this, who knows who could turn on you? So when Guttmacher posts studies, and women are like, “Well, yeah, totally, duh“, and Liberal White Dudes are all “Oh, pfft, my own personal experience as a pregnant female tell me that this is teh crap, OH WAIT”, it’s really, really, fucking annoying. And they need to learn to cram it, to listen, and to actually fucking learn.

    /off soapbox

  29. Hector B.
    Hector B. October 19, 2007 at 7:54 pm |

    Here is a good book to read about prelegal abortions, and it is online: When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973

  30. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne October 19, 2007 at 8:30 pm |

    But anyway, by making abortion illegal you get two results.
    You “stop” the abortions of women in Group 3. If you’re a conservative, you feel happy.

    A big chunk of what you’re leaving out of Group 3 is that if the woman has no access to a third-party provider, it’s likely that she’ll try to secretly self-abort, whether with herbs/chemicals or by time-tested measures like “accidentally” throwing herself down the stairs.

    That’s part of what drives me nuts in these conversations. Even without meaning to, we end up sounding as though women always seek out someone to help them abort, and if they don’t find anyone, they continue the pregnancy. In reality, desperate women will do damn near anything to end a pregnancy that they don’t want, up to and including committing suicide.

  31. harlemjd
    harlemjd October 19, 2007 at 11:47 pm |

    JivinJ and Bunny –

    There are a lot of reasons why a pregnant woman would get an illegal abortion even after Roe. Roe did not mandate abortion on demand up until labor, no matter what Operation Rescue says. Rather, it said that there can be no undue burdens (a term the court didn’t start defining until later cases) on a woman’s access to abortion when the fetus wasn’t yet viable, and that post-viability, women’s health had to remain a serious priority (ie. allowances for necessary abortions)

    Many states immediately passed laws putting all sorts of limits on abortion: parental consent, spousal consent, waiting periods, laws that abortions can only be performed in hospitals (as opposed to clinics). Some of those laws were eventually struck down, but it took a while. In the mean time, there would have been women who couldn’t get their abortions legally, even post-Roe. My guess is that illegal abortions wound down after-Roe, but they didn’t stop overnight.

  32. harlemjd
    harlemjd October 19, 2007 at 11:48 pm |

    JivinJ and Bunny –

    There are a lot of reasons why a pregnant woman would get an illegal abortion even after Roe. Roe did not mandate abortion on demand up until labor, no matter what Operation Rescue says. Rather, it said that there can be no undue burdens (a term the court didn’t start defining until later cases) on a woman’s access to abortion when the fetus wasn’t yet viable, and that post-viability, women’s health had to remain a serious priority (ie. allowances for necessary abortions)

    Many states immediately passed laws putting all sorts of limits on abortion: parental consent, spousal consent, waiting periods, laws that abortions can only be performed in hospitals (as opposed to clinics). Some of those laws were eventually struck down, but it took a while. In the mean time, there would have been women who couldn’t get their abortions legally, even post-Roe. My guess is that illegal abortions wound down after-Roe, but they didn’t stop.

  33. Sailorman
    Sailorman October 20, 2007 at 9:25 am |

    Mnemosyne Says:
    October 19th, 2007 at 8:30 pm
    A big chunk of what you’re leaving out of Group 3 is that if the woman has no access to a third-party provider, it’s likely that she’ll try to secretly self-abort, whether with herbs/chemicals or by time-tested measures like “accidentally” throwing herself down the stairs.

    Not really: A woman who will abort “no matter what” is in Group 1, not group 3. Anyone who will try to secretly self-abort is, from the standpoint of the model, just the same as someone who will try to get an abortion with assistance.

    It seems odd at first, but the groups are defined by the womens’ actions, not by their desires.

  34. Helen
    Helen October 21, 2007 at 7:59 am |

    Shankar Gupta Says:
    October 18th, 2007 at 6:01 pm
    I’m struggling to think of an example in American history where a ban on consensual behavior (in this case, consensual between a woman and her doctor) has actually decreased the incidence of that behavior. It certainly has not worked on drugs, alcohol, prostitution or gambling.

    Your equation of abortion (a serious life decision requiring a medical procedure) and drugs, alcohol, prostitution or gambling (recreational activities) is truly insulting, as well as completely useless as a comparison.

  35. Emily
    Emily October 21, 2007 at 4:11 pm |

    B.A. Says:

    What was the effect of Roe v. Wade on the abortion rates in the 15 states where abortion had previously been legal? That might be a fairer comparison point.

    Just a guess, but I would think those rates decreased. After abortion was made legal in all 50 sheets, people would not have had to cross state borders to get an abortion. Therefore, the clinics in the original 15 states where it was legal would only have to provide services to their own residents. I could be wrong. Does anyone have data on it?

  36. Elizabethe
    Elizabethe October 22, 2007 at 11:00 am |

    Just a guess, but I would think those rates decreased. After abortion was made legal in all 50 sheets, people would not have had to cross state borders to get an abortion. Therefore, the clinics in the original 15 states where it was legal would only have to provide services to their own residents. I could be wrong. Does anyone have data on it?

    I actually did research on a single city – Cincinnati, Ohio- and the answer is “sort of.” Even though abortion was now legal, that doesn’t mean that abortion clinics sprung up the next day. In Cincinnati, there were a few small start-up clinics that were plagued with lawsuits and protests (Cincinnati was the birthplace of National Right to Life), and it took almost a full year for a stable abortion clinic to be established by Planned Parenthood. Before that, the local Planned Parenthood was still assisting women in travelling to other cities where abortion clinics had been established, as far away as New York. I would expect that the changes would be more gradual over a few years.

  37. JivinJ
    JivinJ October 22, 2007 at 12:03 pm |

    Zuzu,
    I’m sorry but I don’t take those stats (which Radical Mama provided) seriously. Do you even know the methodology which acquired those statistics? If not, then why are you acting like they’re somehow accurate or definitive?

    Just accepting those numbers without even knowing their source or methodology shows a true lack of seriousness on your behalf.

    Again, the 1.5 million number is for 1979, not 1973, so just stop saying that it was 1.5 million in 1973.

    Strawman city. When did I say there were 1.5 million abortions in 1973? I’ve asked you specific questions on how many abortions (illegal and legal) you think occurred before and after Roe because in order to believe the number of abortions didn’t dramatically increase – you have to believe some rather odd things.

    Which is the entire point of the Guttmacher/WHO study, and which you seem desperate to deny.

    Have you read the Guttmacher/WHO study? Do you know how they got the illegal abortion numbers? What was their methodology?

    You’re the one who seems desperate to accept statistics which align with your beliefs even though you likely have no clue how they were acquired.

    Thomas,
    First, you’d have to accept there were 1.2 million abortions in 1972. I don’t. But lets look at the statistics anyway. According to the CDC, the abortion rate rose from 13 in 1972 to 24 in 1979. Now, this obviously doesn’t include illegal abortions and it is likely there is some underreporting for the numbers. It’s true the number of women between 15-44 rose between 1972 and 1979 but not enough to equate for difference. In order to believe the abortion rate didn’t change dramatically, I think you have to accept a large number of illegal abortions were occurring.

    Harlemjd,
    You’re mistaken about a number of things. First, “health” having to be a seriouspriority. “Health” with regards to abortion is defined by Doe v. Bolton as “the medical judgement may be exercised in the light of all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age, relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.”

    Second,

    Many states immediately passed laws putting all sorts of limits on abortion: parental consent, spousal consent, waiting periods, laws that abortions can only be performed in hospitals (as opposed to clinics).

    Which states immediately passed laws like that which were effective immediately. It wasn’t until 1992 (in Planned Parenthood v. Casey) that the U.S. Supreme Court said a number of Pennsylvania’s abortion restrictions (parental consent, informed consent with waiting period) were constitutional. Which state has a law which says abortions can only be performed in hospitals?

    I don’t where you got this from but it’s all wrong.

  38. JivinJ
    JivinJ October 22, 2007 at 4:09 pm |

    Zuzu,
    Really? You think that’s me saying there were 1.5 million abortions in 1973? Huh??? That makes so little sense I have no clue where you’re coming from. I was trying to figure out how many illegal abortions you thought occurred after Roe. Even if there were 500,000 illegal abortions in post-Roe 1973 (a thought I find absolutely ludicrous) there would still have only been 1.2 – 1.3 (7-800,000 legal, 500,000 illegal) million abortions total in 1973.

    I downloaded the pdf and read it the day it was in the news. Their assertions of their methodology? Such as “WHO periodically estimates the incidence of unsafe abortion for each region of the world….Unsafe abortion can only be estimated with indirect techniques that draw on all available evidence, including information on complications treated in hospitals, studies on conditions of unsafe abortion, and women’s reports in in surveys….Because there are gaps in the evidence base, there is degree of uncertainty and imprecision in country-specific estimates, which are, therefore used solely for the purpose of aggregation to regional and subregional levels.”

    They have to estimate how many unsafe abortions there were by getting a number of complications, then estimate for underreporting of complications, then estimate for what percentage of unsafe abortions would have resulted in complications, etc.

  39. JivinJ
    JivinJ October 23, 2007 at 10:55 am |

    Yes, I wrote a sentence that doesn’t say anything about 1.5 million abortions in 1973. How you can think this –

    You can’t honestly believe around 500,000 illegal abortions (how were they illegal, by the way? Non-physician? Self-induced?) occurred in 1973 post-Roe?

    is me saying I think there were 1.5 million abortions in 1973 is beyond me. I don’t think any rational person could honestly take that and come up with what you’ve come up with.

    Women weren’t dying from botched back-alley abortions at anywhere near the same rates as before.

    But they were still dying from legal abortions. The CDC lists the number of abortions deaths from illegal and legal abortions prior to and after Roe. They list 39 illegal abortion and 24 legal abortion deaths in 1972. They list 19 illegal abortion and 25 legal abortion deaths in1973. They list 26 legal abortion deaths and 6 illegal abortion deaths in 1974. 29 legal and 4 illegal in 1975, 11 legal 2 illegal in 1976, 17 legal and 4 illegal in 1977.

    My point regarding the estimates is that you’re taking their estimates which you have no clue of the accuracy of or if the methodology they used to come up with those estimates is accurate and treating it like its gospel.

  40. Hector B.
    Hector B. October 23, 2007 at 1:32 pm |

    My point regarding the estimates is that you’re taking their estimates which you have no clue of the accuracy of or if the methodology they used to come up with those estimates is accurate and treating it like its gospel.

    Unlike the late lamented Weekly World News, The Lancet is a peer-reviewed journal. Other MDs and scientists review the submissions, so bloggers and other jamokes don’t have to.

  41. JivinJ
    JivinJ October 24, 2007 at 2:40 pm |

    Zuzu,
    Yes, but the question of how many illegal abortions there were (or you think there were) post-Roe is still unanswered.

    Hector B.,
    I doubt you’d take that line with the results of some peer-reviewed journal you disagreed with. The peer review process is hardly foolproof.

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