Do Pro-Life States Really Have Fewer Abortions?

What Women Really Think
June 2 2009 4:19 PM

Do Pro-Life States Really Have Fewer Abortions?

Stats sweetheart Nate Silver ran abortion-rate data from the CDC and has found that states with higher numbers of people who identify as pro-life have lower rates of abortion than pro-choice states . But, this finding is somewhat deceptive. As anyone who receives Guttmacher Institute press releases knows, 87 percent of counties do not have abortion providers , and the CDC data does not always count state of residence, only the state where the abortion is performed. Additionally, since CDC abortion data is self-reported by each state, as Silver notes, "Some states, like Florida and Louisiana, do not report their abortion statistics, and in other cases ... [data collection] may be subject to various sorts of imperfections, as the reporting of abortion statistics can have some political implications."

But the Silver stats show something less blatantly obvious than states with no abortion doctors having lower rates of abortion:

Advertisement
The Guttmacher institute data...suggests that abortion providers in pro-life states carry a larger caseload. Abortion clinics in the 15 most pro-life states performed an average of 949 abortions in 2005; those in pro-choice states performed an average of 576 ... This may imply that there are either too few providers in pro-life states to meet the demand for abortion (or too many in pro-choice states)-although clearly many women who want an abortion are willing to travel for one.

Silver does not draw any pat conclusions from this research, but ends his article with a difficult and important question. "If it's a three-hour drive to the nearest clinic, how many women will ultimately wind up forsaking an abortion (and how many will have an illegal abortion instead)?"

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Lifetime Didn’t Find the Steubenville Rape Case Dramatic Enough. So They Added a Little Self-Immolation.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.
Behold
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.