Over the past several days, a variety of media outlets have taken a new study published in The Lancet as proof that pro-life laws fail to reduce abortion rates. However, in his review of the study, prominent pro-life researcher Michael New argues that such claims are politicizations of the actual facts.
“[T]he Lancet article is one of a long line of studies that use global public-health data and purportedly find that incidence of abortion has little correlation with its legal status,” he says, but explains that such a conclusion relies on comparing incomparable countries: “most countries that restrict abortion are in Africa, South America, and the Middle East and have much higher poverty rates and a higher incidence of other social pathologies that might increase the demand for abortion.”
New goes on to note that abortion advocates have failed to acknowledge “considerable variation in abortion trends,” particularly that “between 1990 and 2014, contraceptive-friendly Western Europe actually saw its abortion rate rise 35 percent, the largest increase for any region analyzed in the Lancet study.”
Contrasting the media narrative, New cites a 2004 Journal of Law and Economics study which “analyzed how changes in abortion policies in post-Communist Eastern Europe affected abortion rates,” and “concluded that modest restrictions on abortion reduced abortion about 25 percent.”
Live Action News’s past analysis of the subject has cited Poland and Ireland as examples of countries more comparable to the United States where prohibiting abortion has effectively and dramatically reduced abortion rates, as well as pointed out that abortion advocates substantially exaggerated the number of illegal pre-Roe abortions in order to paint American abortion prohibition as pointless.
In addition, Live Action has found that ultrasound laws and waiting periods have been effective in reducing abortion rates. In 2012, Patheos blogger Marc Barnes found that states rated hostile to abortion “rights” by NARAL Pro-Choice America tended to have lower abortion rates.