Nov. 13, 2012
Libby Anne, of Love, Joy, Feminism, recently blogged about “How [She] Lost Faith in the ‘Pro-Life’ Movement.” Marc Barnes addresses Libby Anne’s statements in a three-part blog post series. I won’t speak to his first two posts, but the third, entitled “Does Contraception Reduce the Abortion Rate? (Rebuttal Part 3),” addresses the oft-repeated argument that if pro-lifers are unhappy about the number of abortions taking place in the United States, we should make sure condoms show up as an item on adolescents’ school supply lists and not complain about the HHS mandate that insurance plans cover contraception without copay.
Mr. Barnes covers a variety of arguments, including the apples-to-oranges nature of comparisons of Eastern and Western Europe’s contraception use/abortion rates, but here’s one reason he argues contraception may not actually reduce abortion:
As Guttmacher researcher Stanley Henshaw noted in his review Unintended Pregnancy in the United States, contraceptive users appear to have been more motivated to prevent births than were nonusers. The CDC has consistently reported that the majority of abortions are performed on women who were using contraception at the time of their last menstrual cycle, that is, at the time they conceived. If contraceptive users are more motivated to have abortions than non-contraceptive users, then it is not ridiculous to posit that the increased use of contraception in the USA was a major factor in the simultaneous increase in abortions…The use of contraception is the attempt to have sex while avoiding having children. To conceive a child despite using contraception means that that attempt has failed. If the attempt fails, then that newly created human life naturally represents a failure. The contraceptive mentality a mentality I believe can exist whether or not one uses specifically uses contraceptive devices while having sex carries over into pregnancy. If I want to avoid a child while having sex, chances are I will want to avoid a child when my partner becomes pregnant.
The author goes on to state that, of course, not all couples who use any form of contraception will go on to abort their child, should they conceive. I would argue this is particularly true among Evangelical Christians, many of whom have not been advised by their clergy to eschew contraception but most of whom oppose abortion. Regardless, Mr. Barness point stands: It may be that members of a society lulled into a false sense of security about its ability to have sex without consequences are more likely to abort than those not using contraception at all.