Friday, April 01, 2011

The Guttmacher Institute Teaches Rick Santorum

Worth spelling it out, I guess:
Santorum is quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying, “Well, a third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion." Leaving aside questions about whether Social Security is indeed facing insolvency, and, if it is, whether the major problem is that there are too few people to support it, there are a number of serious problems with Santorum’s statement.
First of all, he got the facts wrong. One-third of pregnancies do not end in abortion, as Santorum claims. In 2008, the most recent year for which data are available, 22.4% of pregnancies (excluding those that result in miscarriages) ended in abortion.
More importantly, however, there are two main reasons why it is simply wrong to assume that every abortion reduces the U.S. population by one person: One, most women obtaining abortions are younger than 30 and are postponing childbearing. They typically want to wait to have children, or already have one child and don’t want another at that time. In either case, the abortion delays a birth, it does not eliminate it—and there is no impact on the overall population.


But where Santorum really misses his mark is his failure to grasp a very simple idea: Most Americans want two children, and they try to time childbearing and space their births so that they have those children when they feel best capable of taking care of them. Overwhelmingly, this is accomplished through contraceptive use. When faced with an unwanted or mistimed pregnancy, some women decide to obtain an abortion. But the key point is that whatever demographic challenges Social Security may be facing, they are not due to abortion, but rather to the fact that most Americans desire—and generally achieve—small families.
Despite the title of this post, Rick Santorum will not learn anything. It is because he doesn't care what most Americans desire and he certainly doesn't care about what women desire. He only listens to the god he has created.

He is not alone in that. The veritable flood of anti-choice proposals coming out in all the Republican-managed states makes me wonder if I somehow slipped into a parallel reality where the Republicans indeed campaigned on limiting reproductive choice. I remember reading all those exit polls where anything having to do with abortion was far, far down the list of the topics the government should address. But we get what the radical right wants, not what voters want.