If you are not from Massachusetts, you may not realize that we are voting for our new Senator to replace Ted Kennedy next Tuesday. The papers have been full of articles for and against each candidate. Today I read something in the Boston Globe where the letter to the editor said "With 25% of pregnancies ending in abortion, I can only support Scott Brown who is against abortion."
Let’s look into these numbers, shall we?
According to the CDC1, in 2005, there were 6,408,000 pregnancies. Of these, there were 4,138,000 live births, 1,206,000 induced abortions and 1,063,000 fetal losses.
The fetal losses refer to spontaneous abortions, often referred to as "miscarriages". So, doing the basic math, there are 64.58% of pregnancies end in a live birth, 18.82% of pregnancies end in an induced abortion and 16.5% of pregnancies end in a miscarriage. I had 2 miscarriages. One fell in the "fetal loss" category. The other fell in the "induced abortion" category.
Wait. Did you read that right? Did I have a miscarriage or an abortion? Well, turns out BOTH. I contacted the CDC a while ago and asked, "When you report the induced abortion rates, do these cover abortions with a live embryo/fetus only or also incomplete spontaneous abortions (aka, missed miscarriages)?" The answer bothered me. The answer was "We cannot separate out the differences. The hospitals and clinics report the number of induced abortions that terminate a pregnancy. The state of that pregnancy is not reported".
My first pregnancy was after a long year of trying. We became pregnant. I started spotting. Being paranoid, we went in for an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed a 5w2d baby. The doctor reviewed the results with me. The baby should be 7w by now. And they didn’t see a heartbeat. I remember her drawing a little heart on the piece of paper in front of her. It was the traditional heart shape, not the anatomically correct version. She wanted me to wait a week and come back for a follow up. "it’s too soon to tell" A week later, Jay was in Arizona at a telescope, observing. I went alone. The baby was now 5w2d. It was clear, she had died(no, I don’t know if it was a girl or boy). The next week, it was arranged for me to have a D&E. At the hospital, Jay asked where we had to go. The woman at the front desk was stern and rude. She made me ask where to go because "he might be forcing you to abort this pregnancy". I think I burst into tears. Jay said something to her about this being a miscarriage. I wish I had to balls at that time to tell her to go to hell. I had just lost a child and my body had not noticed. For 3 weeks, it had not noticed.There was a medical emergency that prevented the doctor from coming. When she did arrive, she explained the procedure. I had to sign parental forms for the disposal of my child. Jay was ordered to leave and he was able to return when they brought me awake. It was one of the worst days in my life.
Was this a miscarriage? Yes, in my mind. Was this an induced abortion? Yes. Medically, there is no difference between this procedure and the procedure if the fetus was still developing. (Yes, I am deliberately not saying "alive" because I know that a 12w fetus can’t live outside of the mother.)
So let’s look at the CDC numbers again.
The accepted rate of miscarriages is 25-30% of all pregnancies.(and it is often thought it is up to 50%, but let’s go with the 25-30%)
So that would be, in 2005: 1,602,000 miscarriages (taking the lower number of 25%). Take away the number of fetal losses, you have 539,000 induced abortions that are probably miscarriages. This lowers the number of induced abortions (with a developing fetus) to 667,000 or 10.4%.
Wow, big difference between 18.82% and 10.4%. (BTW- take the 30% number and you get down to a 5.5% of pregnancies are actually aborted with a developing fetus).
I personally feel that 10.4% is still high. However, there is NO WAY to determine how many of that 10.4% were terminated for medical reasons for the mother or child. I know several people who have done both (some cases, the child was deformed and damaged from a chromosomal defect, others, the mother was dying from preeclampsia). Also, I feel it is a woman’s choice to make and the best thing our society can do is work to lower that number, not criminalize it based on one particular religion.
The thing is, I worry when people use statistics to push their cause without thinking about it. The 25% is an outright lie. 19% I could see being put forward, but once you look into it, 11% is more accurate. Let’s be rational people here. Numbers are only useful if you understand them. Regurgitating a statistic without looking into what goes in is not rational. Research, learn, be proactive.
I am pro-choice. Again, I state that our society would do better in finding ways to lower the abortion rates instead of punishing doctors and patients. It would do better in accepting that pregnancy complications can actually KILL a mother. It would do better in accepting that depression is a disease and pregnancy and depression can go hand-in-hand and that it can be a medical reason to abort a pregnancy. And for those who feel there is never a real risk to the mother, please read the stats HERE. Again, you should stop, and think about the statistics. What does it mean that 18% of US maternal deaths are caused by this? What are the real numbers? Are we willing to sacrifice women’s lives for a religion? When does the life of the unborn trump the life of the living?
Just some food for thought.