Politics

These Tweets Reveal a Problem with the March for Life

At the 43rd annual March for Life, a pro-life demonstration held in Washington D.C., Vice President Mike Pence declared on Friday that "life is winning in America." It's unclear what he means by that exactly, but if it means fewer abortions, he's right: abortions in the U.S. are at a historic low.

But as evangelical writer Amy Sullivan points out, anyone implying this has to do with "pro-life" policies (or pro-choice polices, for that matter) should know that the actual reason why isn't so clear cut.

The legalization of abortion that followed the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade heralded in a new era for reproductive rights. It paved the way to expanded access to contraceptives, which has contributed to the decline in abortions across the U.S., numerous studies have found. The rate of teen pregnancies has also steadily dropped, which is not coincidental.

Opponents of abortion have passed laws that restrict access to the health services, crediting the closing of health clinics that provide abortions and narrowing the window of time pregnant women have to seek those services for the decline.

nurse-holding-stethoscope

There's evidence debunking that claim, though. A 2016 study published in The Lancet, comparing abortion rates in 58 countries where the service is illegal and 63 where it's legal, found that countries which prohibit or severely restrict abortion access have 37 abortions per 1,000 childbearing women on average, whereas countries that permit abortions have 34 per 1,000.

"The level of unmet need for contraception is higher in countries with the most restrictive abortion laws than in countries with the most liberal laws, and this contributes to the incidence of abortion in countries with restrictive laws," the study determined.