In Abortion Statistics Commentary, blog, viral

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If you read the blog post we published yesterday morning, as soon as the latest official NZ abortion statistics were released, you will remember that I made the following prediction:

“Despite what some people will try and claim, this decrease in abortion numbers is NOT largely due to contraception or morning-after pill successes.”

And sure enough, the ink had barely dried on those words (metaphorically speaking) when the Abortion Law Reform Association of NZ (ALRANZ) issued the following press release:

“Better contraception appears to be playing a role in the continued decline in abortions, but much more can be done to make the newer contraceptives accessible and affordable, president of the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand, Dr. Morgan Healey, said today.”

True to form, and as predicted here yesterday, ALRANZ have tried to attribute the decrease in NZ abortions to contraception successes.

The only problem with this claim is that it is completely unsubstantiated – and ALRANZ even admit this in their own press release about a paragraph later when they state (emphasis added):

Anecdotal evidence about rising use of long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) together with today’s statistics suggest these new methods may be helping to reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion,” Dr. Healey said. “We’d like to see more research that could confirm these links…”

What ALRANZ is clearly stating here is that there is ZERO RESEARCH WHICH BACKS UP THEIR THEORY about why the abortion rate in NZ is decreasing.

But it doesn’t end there, because there are actually other reasons to wonder about the validity of the claim that better contraception is the reason for the decline in the NZ abortion figures.

ALRANZ state in their press release that “[long term contraceptive implant] Jadelle has been funded since 2010″, and that sales of Jadelle and Merina (an IUD contraceptive) have only increased “over the last few years”.

But when you look at the NZ abortion statistics you can see that this decrease has actually been going on for five straight years in a row now. It began back in 2008, a full two years prior to the commencement of the funding of Jadelle, and several years before sales of Jadelle and Merina began their increase.

There’s no doubting that increased availability of long-term sterilizing devices (and all the health risks and unknowns associated with them) is going to have SOME effect on abortion rates, but to try and suggest that they are the sole reason WITHOUT ANY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE is simply overreaching.

In order to prove the validity of this hypothesis, you’d need to engage in quite a complex excercize which would not only need to show that the number of conceptions in NZ had decreased, but you’d also need to show that the decrease in conceptions was caused directly by the long-term sterilizing implants, and also that the women using these implants would have definitely aborted their babies had they become pregnant while using the devices.

But I actually think that something more is going on here.

I think that we are witnessing the genesis of a quiet cultural revolution away from abortion.

Just think about all of the ultrasound pictures that now regularly get posted up on Facebook; or the amazing graphics featured in modern documentaries about human development; or the massive growth in pregnancy related websites and the detailed information they offer to women, as well as the baby apps which chart fetal development week-by-week that are now available for smartphones and tablets.

And then you add to this the fact that less and less women are signing up to militant pro-choice groups like ALRANZ, while young adult pro-life organisations are experiencing a springtime of growth in new young members.

The humanity of the unborn child, and the ugly reality of what abortion truly is is now becoming harder and harder to escape from, and this is shaping people’s attitudes. Once upon a time your immediate family and close circle of friends might have viewed the ultrasound image of your baby, but today everyone on your Facebook friends list or Twitter feed sees it, and stuff like that is a cultural game-changer.

I would actually suggest to you that something significant is going on quietly beneath the surface here in NZ. That there is a new group emerging, who would not class themselves as pro-life, yet at the same time definitely do not embrace the tired old slogans of the pro-choice movement either, and who have a nagging and growing unease with the true reality of what abortion actually is.

But militant pro-abortion groups like ALRANZ can’t bring themselves to admit that this is what is going on, so instead they use a moment like yesterday as a political tool to try and further their particular agendas and ideologies.

There seems little doubt that yesterday’s press release from ALRANZ was prepared well in advance (just consider the mention of their prior communications with Bayer, the wholesalers of Jadelle and Merina in NZ, or the technically detailed and lengthy nature of the press release). The strategist in me also says that even if yesterday’s NZ abortion statistics had shown an increase in abortions ALRANZ still would have published the same press release, just with a minor change – they would be claiming that the increase in abortions was proof that more funding was needed for Jadelle and Merina.

The one glaring inconsistency that no one in the media seems to have picked up on is this: if ALRANZ truly do consider abortion to be a totally safe and perfectly ethical act, then why would they go to such lengths to promote long-term contraceptives as the silver bullet for reducing our national abortion numbers?

If, as ALRANZ consistently claims, there is nothing risky or ethically wrong with abortion, then why would it matter to ALRANZ that so many abortions are taking place in this country each year?

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Showing 2 comments
  • Someone
    Reply

    This is a lovely strawman argument, but perhaps you should read what ALRANZ actually says. They are not ‘pro-abortion’ – like any other medical procedure, it is preferable to not require it. So of course it is preferable that we have less.

    It is also preferable that we have strong, stable, educated families. http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/01/did_the_pro_life_movement_lead_to_more_single_moms.html

  • rachael
    Reply

    I wonder if the falling abortion rate is because there are less men than women in new zealand and therefore less acts of unplanned sexual intercourse. Married couples are having less sex too according to a lot of lifestyle articles I read and thus most of the pregnancies that are happening in nz now are planned (yay!)

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