The Associated Press recently revisited U.S. abortion data, a troubled area of public-health reporting with significant gaps and omissions, and reported persistence of what are now embedded patterns. A majority (54 percent) of women and girls who obtain abortions were using contraceptives at the time they became pregnant. The majority are also unmarried, in their 20s and 30s, have a child, report a religious affiliation, and are poor.
Most of these factors continue longtime characteristics, except for the growth in unmarried status for 20-year-olds, among whom what even the Guttmacher Institute refers to as a lack of “stable partner relationships” is a factor in a high abortion rate. The AP says that total abortions are “nearly 1 million,” but this number almost assuredly misses California, New Hampshire, and other states with dismal or no reporting laws. The true number of abortions has lingered in the 1.2 million to 1.3 million range since the late 1990s, and no reason exists to think that final numbers for 2011 and 2012 will be better.
Societally, a lethal cul de sac appears to have been reached. A stagnant economy with high unemployment among recent college graduates, a retreat from marriage, daunting debt, an antagonistic culture between the sexes, and persistent racial disparities in abortion rates — all combine to put more women and children at risk.
Solutions must tackle each of these problems in turn. Pregnancy resource centers must continue to expand an encouraging urban presence that does not yet match the scale of the problem. A vision of holistic sexuality needs more of the actualization that is happening now at places like the Gianna Centers in New York and New Jersey. Moreover, the debt crisis for young graduates must be recognized as a major threat to marriage and family life.
The next generation is our hope, but to meet its potential it must have hope.
— Charles A. “Chuck” Donovan is the president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute.