Thursday, January 17, 2008

Going to the Mountian- Births up Abortions down and the ensuing spin

Hi all, I am back from a long hiatus in Europe. For those of you who may not recall, Tito was kind enough to grant me guest posting privileges a few months back after I retired my own blog, so I could still on occasion toss my two cents into whatever issues caught my attention. I believe it was Homer (Simpson) who once said, "Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!" To prove that point, the Guttmacher Institute recently released a study concerning life and death, that is to say birth and abortion, in America. What is most useful about this study is that it dispels the myth that the abortion rate went up during the Bush presidency. Friend of the blog, Jay, has a fine post up which intends, "to finally, once and for all, put to lie the notion that the number and/or rate of abortion has gone up." While Jay does what he can on that front, I thought I'd say a few words on the media spin pertaining to these studies. You didn't think any news along the lines of an increase in babies being born as well as a decrease in America's most common surgical procedure was simply going to be reported as a step in the right direction did you? Case in point, we have two articles, from the same paper, dealing with the same topic, and by the same author. In a December 21 piece entitled "U.S. Fertility Rate Hits 35-Year High, Stabilizing Population" Rob Stein of the Washington post informs us that... "For the first time in 35 years, the U.S. fertility rate has climbed high enough to sustain a stable population, solidifying the nation's unique status among industrialized countries." No argument there, but it was rather interesting to read the possible reasons for this laid out in the article. "The reasons for the unusual U.S. fertility rate are the focus of intense interest. Experts can only speculate, but they cite a complex mix of factors, including lower levels of birth control use than in other developed countries, widely held religious values that encourage childbearing, social conditions that make it easier for women to work and have families, and a growing Hispanic population. The nation's religiosity also contributes to the higher fertility rate, which varies geographically, experts said. Red states tend to have both more religious people and higher fertility rates. 'Americans are much more religious than Europeans: They believe in God more. They go to church more,' said Charles Westoff, a Princeton University demographer. 'That sort of religious attitude or set of values is strongly correlated with fertility.'" While organizations representing immigrants were not quoted in the article, and it took an Ivy League professor to point out any kind of link between religion and family, doom and gloom hippies were given a bully pulpit in the article, declaring, "The world is now consuming resources faster than the Earth can sustain over the longer term...Forests are shrinking. Fisheries are collapsing. Water tables are falling. Large parts of the world's grasslands are deteriorating. The U.S. is already disproportionately responsible for that because of our very high consumption levels." Very similar to the Washington Post article is a more recent one from the AP. It does contain a few quotable gems though... "Experts believe there is a mix of reasons [for the increasing fertility rate]: a decline in contraceptive use, a drop in access to abortion, poor education and poverty." Also interesting to note according to one of the quoted professors, "Clearly, U.S. birth rates are not what they were in the 1950s and early 1960s, when they were nearly twice as high and large families were much more common. The recent birth numbers are more a result of many women having a couple of kids each, rather than a smaller number of mothers, each bearing several children." This is a matter of perspective. Is a woman who has four children "having a couple of kids," or "bearing several children." What about a woman with three kids, or five? I am not sure it is intentional or not but the professor did seem to do a nice job setting up a false divide between these hip and fun women who do have a "couple of kids," and those dour, barefoot, roundheads "bearing several children" In fairness to the professor though, I have been hearing that 3 is the new 2, for number of children in many circles these days. Just as the case in the Washington Post article, it falls to a professor to explain the religious angle of things, apparently no religious leaders could be reached. "'The influence of certain religions in those latter regions is an important factor,' said Ron Lesthaeghe, a Belgian demographer who is a visiting professor at the University of Michigan. 'Evangelical Protestantism and Mormons,' he said." My only point here is a small one about us Catholics not getting any sort of credit (blame?) for this one. After two articles telling us that the US birthrate is highest in Latino families Evangelicals and Mormons are the only religious groups which are pointed out to value the notion of family? I know those two groups have made some in-roads in the Hispanic community, but come on! Anyway this brings us to the most recent article, one again, Rob Stein, Washington post... "The number of abortions performed in the United States dropped to 1.2 million in 2005 -- the lowest level since 1976, according to a new report." Deo gratias! In terms of tone though, much of the article goes downhill from there. "The report did not identify reasons for the drop in abortions, but the researchers said it could be caused by a combination of factors. 'It could be more women using contraception and not having as many unintended pregnancies. It could be more restrictions on abortions making it more difficult for women to obtain abortion services. It could be a combination of these and other dynamics, said Rachel K. Jones of the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health research organization." As Jay pointed out, the pro-choicers have been saying abortions are on the rise for several years, now that the evidence has totally disproven them. Quick to try to grab some credit for the decline in abortions was America's foremost provider of abortions. "'This study shows that prevention works, and that's what we provide in our health centers every day,' said Cecile Richard of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America." Have they no shame? Also worth noting, "The abortion rate varies widely around the country, tending to be higher in the Northeast and lower in the South and Midwest." Alright, so where am I going with this? Aside from some of the minor qualms I already pointed out, there is some major dissonance between these articles, let me spell it out in simplest terms. 1-The fertility rate in America is on the rise, according to the MSM and company, a major reason for this is "poor education" about contraception, implicit in this point is that religious people and immigrants are uneducated. 2-At the same time the abortion rate in America is down, according to the MSM and company, a major reason for THIS is "more women using contraception" apparently thanks in large part to the educational efforts of Planned Parenthood. 3-Furthermore, since apparently contraception use and secular outlooks are synonymous with education and the key to preventing abortion, why is it that in the Northeast, a region both articles seem to think rather highly of, the fertility rate is the lowest, and the abortion rate is the highest? Could it be that some Northeasterners are slipping through the cracks of the contraception education establishment and thus have to rely on the back-up plan of abortion, to maintain the region's dubious honor of being home to the fewest children? So which is it? Are abortions going down because of more contraception use, or is the birthrate going up because of less contraception use? Didn't Stein think about this as he wrote these articles? The truth seems to be that no matter what happens to the abortion and fertility rates in America, the "culture of death" establishment gets all the credit in the media! I guess if the mountain won't come to Mohamed, Mohamed will go to the mountain. Lip service is paid to to the role of religion, but the pro-life movement and the Catholic Church are not even mentioned here. I guess you can hardly expect the paper to interview a woman who changed her mind and did not go through with an abortion because of the efforts of pro-lifers. This happened in a recent movie and the powers-that-be on the editorial pages were angry enough. I probably don't even need to tell you what the real story is here with the rise in fertility and the decline in abortions. First of all there is immigration, and the family centered culture many of the immigrants come from. Second, is the so-called "Roe Effect." As nearly everyone born after 1973 is the result of their parent's rejection of having an abortion, the percentage of children born to families that lean religious/conservative/pro-life is going to make up a greater chunk of each succeeding generation. In political terms think about it like this. George Bush barely won Florida in 2000. Had Roe v. Wade been handed down in 1975 say, would most of the thousands of additional 25 year old voters coming mainly from families with pro-choice leanings have voted for Bush or Gore? As Catholics of course, we need to keep focus on doing as St. Francis said, "Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society." We Catholics must educate each other on Church teachings regarding sanctity of life, this means Priests in their homilies, parents to children (at an appropriate age), Catholic school and CCD teachers to students, and even one Catholic friend to another, etc. Remember many Catholics who disobey or oppose Church teachings are not hostile to them, rather they have never heard them before in the fullness of their truth! Also, we need to live these teachings in our families and in our station in life, and back this teaching and living up with fervent and humble prayer. If we do this, we will see articles about declines in abortions year after year!

5 comments:

Welcome back, FD. Outstanding analysis!

Tito said...

Great posting.

And welcome back to America!

Darwin said...

Good to see you back, Fidei, and great analysis.

Anonymous said...

And, of course, we need to spread the word on politicians that are strongly against abortion. To not do so would seem a grievous sin!

Ms. FIT's Confession of Faith (in Huckabee)

Laurie said...

Welcome back, FD!

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