In an article published today, Secular Pro-Life shows in detail how “compared to pro-life states, pro-choice states have more insurance coverage of contraception yet have roughly the same rates of unintended pregnancies and much higher rates of abortion.” In addition, SPL states, “Pro-choice people repeatedly claim that if we truly care about lowering abortion rates we should support pro-choice policies and politicians who promote contraception access. As I’ve written about previously, this theory isn’t backed by the evidence.”
SPL points to a heavily slanted 2015 article in the Washington Post which claimed that states considered “pro-life” have greater rates of unintended pregnancies than “pro-choice” states. But the Wash Po author only looked at two data points to arrive at this skewed and inaccurate conclusion. When all points are considered, the numbers are almost exactly the same between the two types of states. SPL writes:
… [W]hen you look at the whole data set (instead of only Mississippi compared to Massachusetts, or only the top 10 pro-life states compared to the top 10 pro-choice ones), there appears to be no relationship at all between views on abortion and unintended pregnancy.
Secular Pro-Life points out that if it is true that “the best way to decrease abortion is not through outlawing [it] but through better access to contraception,” then pro-choice/pro-contraception coverage states “[should] also have lower unintended pregnancy rates.” Instead, SPL found that “there’s no obvious relationship between states’ contraception coverage requirements and their unintended pregnancy rates.”
The popular pro-abortion talking point is that if we give women more access to contraceptives, we will have fewer unintended pregnancies. According to SPL, this appears to be simply that… a mere talking point not actually based in fact:
The states with zero contraception coverage requirements had the lowest abortion rates at 9.68 abortions per 1,000 women age 15-44. States with 2, 3, and 4 contraception coverage requirements had rates of 14.58, 15.14, and 14.00, respectively.
This result could imply that contraception access actually increases abortion rates, and many pro-lifers try to make that claim. Their theory is that whenever you have a desirable but risky action (sex), the more you lower the risk, the more often people will take that action. If people think the risk is lowered more than is actually the case (e.g. if the contraception they’re using or the way they’re using it isn’t as effective as they think), then they may be actually increasing their risk exposure by taking a risky action more often without proportionally decreasing the risk in each instance.
This theory is plausible because states with more contraception access requirements do not have lower unintended pregnancy rates. Perhaps these populations lower the risk of a given instance of sex by using contraception, but increase their overall risk exposure by having sex more often without using contraception consistently or correctly.
Another theory is that perhaps states with higher contraceptive rates also have high abortion rates because they’re pro-choice states. SPL says those higher abortion rates “may be due to social influences” in those states. After all, if women are surrounded by mostly pro-choicers (and pro-choice laws), they may be less likely to choose life.
Regardless, adds SPL, state abortion restrictions — not contraceptives — seem to reduce abortion rates:
There’s some research to suggest contraception access—especially access to long acting reversible contraception—can help, but so far, the evidence I’ve found continues to show that the abortion rate decreases more when there are more abortion restrictions than it does when there is more access to contraception.
Read the entire, well-written and detailed article at Secular Pro-Life.