Progressive Revival

When contraception use goes up, abortions go down. That is the not so surprising findings in the report Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress on the declining number of world wide abortions coming out of the Guttmacher Institute this week.  As the Christian Science Monitor Reported:

Contraceptive use is up worldwide, and with that has come a decline in abortions and unintended pregnancies, according to a report by the Guttmacher Institute released Tuesday.

Between 1995 and 2003, the number of abortions performed worldwide fell from 45.5 million to 41.6 million. The global rate of abortions fell as well: from 35 abortions for every 1,000 women of reproductive age (15-44) in 1995, to 29 per 1,000 women in 2003.

The decline corresponds with a growth in contraceptive use worldwide. The proportion of married women practicing contraception rose from 54 percent in 1990 to 63 percent in 2003, Guttmacher reports. Unmarried, sexually active women are also more likely to be using contraception.

What spurred the increase in contraceptive use?

“In the course of social and economic development, women and couples increasingly want smaller families, and so in a broad sense those are some of the contributors to uptake of contraception,” says Gilda Sedgh, a senior research associate at the New York-based Guttmacher Institute and a coauthor of the study.

“That of course is not possible without access to contraception. So it’s service provision and international investments in family planning programs that have made it possible.”

The findings of the report entitled: Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress confirm what is obvious to most of us – if you want to stop abortions then make contraception and family planning options readily available.  Yes, this is consequentialist thinking but in this case the effort of All OF US should be about the consequences of not stopping unwanted or intended pregnancies before they happen.  For those who view abortion as the equivalent of murder then shouldn’t all efforts be made to make sure that there is no conception from sex to begin with?  Likewise, those concerned with the health of the woman should be shocked by the statistic that 70,000 women are dying from the consequences of botched illegal abortions. 

While in a utopian moralistic universe people would only have sex when they wanted to have children, but that is not the universe where real people live and it is time to admit that and to turn to a more pragmatic approach.  Availability to contraception and family planning sould be supported by all sides in the abortion debate.