Think Straight, Not in Circles

I wrote a commentary to this letter that appeared in the Inquirer. First the letter, then my response.

 

In his letter “Breathtaking infatuation for the RH Bill,” (Inquirer, 6/9/11), Raul Nidoy argues against the proposed law, falsely claiming that scientific evidence—including research conducted by the Guttmacher Institute—supports his position. What he actually does is distort the evidence to support his personal views.

First, the Guttmacher Institute, a highly regarded independent research organization, has found that the abortion rate in the Philippines would be reduced by 83 percent if all women who wanted to avoid pregnancy were able to access modern contraceptive methods and use them correctly and consistently.

Second, the birth control pill only serves to prevent a pregnancy; it does not terminate a pregnancy. It is blatantly false and against all scientific evidence to claim that the pill is an abortifacient.

Third, Nidoy misrepresents the findings of the Guttmacher study “Relationships Between Contraception and Abortion: A Review of the Evidence” by failing to mention that the study found that in cases where abortion and contraception rose simultaneously in a given country, it was because fertility desires were falling and contraceptive use was not increasing fast enough to meet the desire for smaller families. The study also found that once fertility rates stabilized, abortion rates fell as contraceptive use continued to increase.

Lastly, Nidoy ignores the wealth of evidence demonstrating that access to family planning services dramatically reduces unplanned pregnancy and, thereby, dramatically reduces abortion. Around the world, unplanned pregnancy and abortion rates tend to be low where effective contraceptive use is high, and vice versa. A recent Guttmacher Institute analysis, for example, shows that the two-thirds of US women who use contraception consistently and correctly account for only 5 percent of unintended pregnancies.

If the RH bill should be debated based on the facts, as Nidoy suggests, the evidence clearly points to the benefits of its passage. While Nidoy has a right to his views, distorting that evidence so as to deny Filipino women access to reproductive healthcare is not acceptable.

SHARON CAMP

President and CEO

The Guttmacher Institute

 

JESSICA MALTER

Senior Communications Associate

The Guttmacher Institute

125 Maiden Lane,

7/F New York, NY 10038

 
In her letter of July 4, 2011 to the Inquirer, Ms Sharon Camp of The Guttmacher Institute presented as scientific certain findings of studies conducted by their institute. She claims that their study “found that once fertility rates stabilized, abortion rates fell as contraceptive use continued to increase.” And so she claims that the use of contraceptives will result in fewer abortions.

As someone who studied physics for my bachelor’s degree I know that scientific conclusions depend on one’s assumptions and theories. In the case at hand, The Guttmacher Institute studies assume that the incidence of contraceptive use directly influences the incidence of abortions. This assumption is at the basis for their conclusion “that access to family planning services dramatically reduces unplanned pregnancy and, thereby, dramatically reduces abortion”. This conclusion in turn is based on statistics of the incidence of contraceptive use and the incidence of abortion.

A careful analysis will reveal that this is a circular way of thinking: assuming what you are trying to prove. It is not real science. It is pseudo-science. Real science will search for the real causes of the lower abortion rates. What are they? Could it be that more people decided to keep their babies? Could it be that more people have become aware of the monstrosity of abortion? Could it be that support groups for teen-age pregnant women have been more active in this field? There are so many other possible reasons for lower abortion rates but the Guttmacher Institute studies did not include any of these in their studies.

As to a direct cause and effect relationship between the use of contraceptives and abortion one can read a study by Stanley K. Henshaw and Kathryn Kost, “Abortion Patients in 1994-1995: Characteristics and Contraceptive Use” (http://www.jstor.org/pss/2136189) which reveals that 58% of the women who had abortions during the period studied were also using contraceptives during the time they had their abortions. This simple data shows that since these women using contraceptives did not want to have a baby at all costs, when their contraceptives failed they resorted to abortion as their backup plan. This demonstrates that at the personal existential level contraception does not prevent abortion but rather leads to it. Once the anti-life mentality sets in, abortion is just around the corner.

 

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