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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Contraception and Abortion

Just how does one relate to the other? There seem to be two major schools of thought on that: increased contraception means decreased abortions, or increased contraception means increased abortions.

The first seems reasonable enough: if you don't conceive, you don't have anything to abort. Right? Not necessarily (note: I italicized certain lines for emphasis):

 within particular populations, contraceptive prevalence and the incidence of induced abortion can and, indeed, often do rise in parallel, contrary to what one would expect. .. In societies that have not yet entered the fertility transition, both actual fertility and desired family sizes are high (or, to put it another way, childbearing is not yet considered to be "within the calculus of conscious choice"3). In such societies, couples are at little (or no) risk of unwanted pregnancies. The advent of modern contraception is associated with a destabilization of high (or "fatalistic") fertility preferences. Thus, as contraceptive prevalence rises and fertility starts to fall, an increasing proportion of couples want no more children (or want an appreciable delay before the next child), and exposure to the risk of unintended pregnancy also increases as a result. In the early and middle phases of fertility transition, adoption and sustained use of effective methods of contraception by couples who wish to postpone or limit childbearing is still far from universal. Hence, the growing need for contraception may outstrip use itself;4 thus, the incidence of unintended and unwanted pregnancies rises, fueling increases in unwanted live births and induced abortion. In this scenario, contraceptive use and induced abortion may rise simultaneously.
 Source: C. Marston and J. Cleland, Relationships Between Contraception and Abortion: A Review of the Evidence. International Family Planning Perspectives, 29(1), March 2003.

I note the position that abortion increases along with contraceptive use because more people are getting into the no-more-children mentality, so they may seek abortion when a child is conceived. The culture of contraception takes hold at first, and people's fertility preferences swing towards fewer children. It takes a while for the utilization of contraceptives to catch up. During this phase, the rate of pregnancies remain constant but fewer of them are welcomed. Each case where the pregnancy is not welcome is a potential case of abortion. In the last phase, contraceptive use will catch up with contraception preferences, at which point, the need for abortion, and therefore its occurence, falls. It's a bit technical but at the heart of it, really, is the cultural phenomenon of contraceptives. To the authors of the study, the bottom line is that the path to reducing abortions is in increasing contraceptive use. In my mind, the bottom line is that this is a huge deception. This is not about contraceptives being the silver bullet the reduces abortions. It is the bomb that ushered in a culture that trivializes the gift of having children. It is entirely deliberate that the battleground is in the attitude of people.

I also note that one detail is missing: at the same time that the contraceptive mentality is gaining ground, sexual activity increases.

Read that again: the contraceptive mentality carries with it an increase in sexual activity. The logic is straightforward: people are lulled into a false sense of contraceptive security. There is a problem with the growing demand for contraceptives that compounds the incidents of contraception failure even when the failure rates remain steady. Any form of artificial contraception has a chance to fail. Condoms are only up to 94% effective, assuming proper use. The actual number of potential abortion cases will increase despite the use of contraceptives at every occasion since, for example, the result of 6% failure cases of X goes up as X goes up. 6% of 1,000,000 is 60,000. 6% of 2,000,000 is 120,000. Before the advent of contraception just before the sexual revolution, the number of abortions (illegal) per year in the US ran up to about a hundred thousand. In more recent times, despite the decline in abortions being reported all, the actual number is still close to nine hundred thousand.

This increase in sexual activity carries hidden implications:

  • The likelihood of conception increases. Each sexual act naturally carries that risk, and there is no artificial contraception out there that is guaranteed to block conception every time. When conception happens, and the parents are deeply into the contraceptive mentality, there is a considerable tendency to take it to its logical conclusion: terminate the pregnancy through abortion.
  • STD risks increase. After all, certain STD viruses can pass right through condoms -- up to 10 abreast -- and condoms can have failure rates of up to 12%. And if they're using other means of contraception, e.g., pills, then STD exposure is 100% -- assuming that one of the couple has got STD.
  • Teenagers who are too young to consider all factors, including self-esteem and long-term implications, will be convinced that they get a free pass. The 12% failure rate of condoms is probably not enough to deter most of them. That's like telling them not to go to a casino because their chance of winning the jackpot is only at 88%. And when the contraceptive does fail, what happens next? Deep in the contraceptive culture, they may take this to the logical conclusion and seek abortion. Or they may come away with AIDS.
  • Mental teenagers (adolescents in their 20s, 30s and even 40s) will likewise feel free to fool around. Marital infidelity will skyrocket, divorce rates will go up and so will the devestating costs of divorce settlements, counselling, and most of all, broken hearts and dreams.

Isn't it amazing what details are hiding between the lines?

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