What kind of women are having abortions?

| January 18, 2008 | 2 Replies

Mike the Mad Biologist reports on a new report by the Guttmacher Institute.  He concludes:

61% of women who have abortions already have children. So much for the ‘irresponsible slut’ propaganda.

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Category: American Culture, Reproductive Rights

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Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Not to dispute the findings of the Gutmacher Institute–I tend to agree with most of their conclusions–but I have trouble with claims that seek to extrapolate to the population at large based on sucdh a small sample. They interview 38 women.

    Part of my skepticism of such stats comes from the nagging suspicious that the kinds of people who answer to polls like this are largely self-selected. The sort of person who would agree to this study are precisely the sort of people who would fall into the category thus determined.

    It's like studies about the consequences of bad childhoods—by and large, the only people who answer the studies are those whose lives have been wrecked as a result of abuse or neglect on the part of the parents. The surveyors even seek them out. We rarely hear from the "survivors" who actually manage to live good lives despite the rotten childhood.

    I tend to see these studies as subsequently lopsided and somewhat unreliable, even when they confirm something I strongly suspect it true. 38 test cases just doesn't seem suffieient to make such a broad claim. 3800 would be a lot more convincing.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Mark: I haven't read the full report (I haven't invested the $15 necessary to obtain a copy), but Guttmacher also states this:

    This study was based on in-depth interviews with 38 women who obtained abortions in the United States in 2004. These women were a subsample of larger study focused around the reasons for and context in which women are making decisions about abortion.

    I don't know how much larger that larger study was. I do know that Guttmacher is well-respected for doing its research properly.  

    See http://www.guttmacher.org/media/nr/2008/01/07/ind

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