Marc Barnes

Guttmacher Institue overestimates illegal abortions by over 1000%: study

Marc Barnes
By Marc Barnes
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December 10, 2012 (BadCatholic) - One of the more exciting hobbies of The Guttmacher Institute — besides receiving annual donations from Planned Parenthood — is demanding greater legal access to abortion in countries where abortion is restricted. This demand blooms from studies of these countries — usually Guttmacher’s — which consistently find high numbers of illegal abortions and abortion-related maternal deaths.

Their message is simple: Legalize abortion, for there exists a massive need for it, and women are dying in their attempt to meet that need with unsafe, illegal abortion. And for the past thirty years or so, we’ve all nodded dutifully, thanked Guttmacher for their hip-as-all-get-out videos explaining this, worked up compassionate faces, and legalized abortion.

Here’s the issue: The methods with which The Guttmacher Institute and researchers of the same vein use to procure these drastic numbers are decisively moronic.

A study published recently by Koch et al. in the International Journal of Women’s Health entitled “Fundamental discrepancies in abortion estimates and abortion-related mortality: A reevaluation of recent studies in Mexico with special reference to the International Classification of Diseases” — which I will be quoting from — politely points this out.

The Guttmacher Institute determines the number of induced abortions in a given country through the use of surveys.

First, they pass out what’s called a Health Facilities Survey to subjects who work in — you guessed it — healthcare facilities, asking them “to remember the total number of women who received post-abortion care ‘in the average month and in the past month.’” Once this recalled number is obtained, they move on to stage two — the Health Professionals Survey.

Guttmacher surveys healthcare professionals “selected on the basis of their professional affiliation, training, experience and specialization on the subject.” (1) Who these people are remains unavailable, as do their qualifications (what counts as specialization?), as do the questions asked in the survey (and whether those questions contain any relative bias), thus rendering the survey unrepeatable — an issue for any scientist. But the Guttmacher Institute is resolute, well-funded, and undeterred by such trifles. The Health Professionals Survey is used to estimate “an expansive multiplier of abortion rates (x3, x4, x5, etc)”, which is then applied to the numbers obtained by the Health Facilities Survey. Voila, the number of abortions.

Even a layman like myself can see why this is iffy at best. As Koch et al. state, such “estimation methods are subjective in nature and extremely subject to selection and recall bias”, that is, to the intentional or unintentional manipulation of answers by those biased on the issue of legalized abortion. Furthermore, there is no information on how the subjects of the Health Professionals Survey were selected, and if the sample size is enough to represent the total population of medical professionals in Mexico.

Don’t take my word for it though. The numbers show how drastically this survey-method of “counting” abortions overestimates reality.

Guttmacher — using their surveys — estimated that for the year 2006 in the Federal District of Mexico (Mexico DF) there were between 137,145 and 194,875 induced abortions. Normally their word would have been taken as gospel truth, but because Mexico DF offers abortion on request to any woman up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy — one of the few Mexican states in which abortion is legal – there exists another way of counting abortions in the same area — actually counting abortions via the required reporting of abortion rates by hospitals.

The number of recorded abortions in 2007 — the year abortion was legalized in the Mexico DF — was 10,137. This number, for those interested, is less than 137,145 and 194, 875. We are left with two options.

Option 1: Either immediately upon abortion being legalized in the Federal District of Mexico, from 2006 to 2007, the abortion rate experienced an epic, up to 2000% decrease. This would be bizarre, given that, as Stanley Henshaw of the Guttmacher Institute itself has explained, “In most countries, it is common after abortion is legalized for abortion rates to rise sharply for several years” (2) and that it defies common sense.

It wouldn’t be a bad argument to make that, since legal abortion was new in the year 2007, there were still illegal abortions taking place, abortions that would have been included in the Guttmacher surveys but missed by the actual counting of legal abortions. However, as the study points out:

…the figure of legally induced abortions carried out in the five cumulative years from April 2007 until April 2012 (ie, a period of time probably long enough to replace illegal abortion with legal procedures in Mexico DF) was 78,544; which is nearly 50% of the original estimate by the [Guttmacher Institute] for only a single year [2006].

We move, therefore, to Option Two: The survey method of obtaining abortion rates is inaccurate, verging on ridiculous. Yet still it continues:

[The Guttmacher Institute] have recently conducted another study insisting on the use of the same methodology and showing figures of induced abortion overestimated by approximately 1000% for 2009 (ie, estimating 122,455 induced abortions instead of the actual figure of 12,221 for Mexico DF in 2009) despite the existence of epidemiological surveillance on this matter by an independent non-governmental agency.

Which, by and large, was dumb. Now that legal abortion is available in Federal District of Mexico, and has been legal long enough so as to make illegal abortions a negligible percentage of total abortions, the Guttmacher Institute still demands we believe that abortion rates are 1000% higher than reported. There have been problems with underreporting regarding the recording of legal abortion rates, but there is no serious consideration that underreporting could be this low. As Koch et al point out:

We acknowledge that underreporting of legal abortions may limit the reliability of estimations based on actual records in Mexico DF. Nevertheless, Mexican health authorities have been actively working towards decreasing the underreporting of maternal mortality statistics which, at least in terms of MMR, have decreased to a negligible percentage since 2003. Even if such efforts have yet to be translated into a decrease in the potential underreporting of legal abortion records in Mexico DF, especially within the private sector, the figures proposed by [the Guttmacher Institute researchers] would still be overestimated. For instance, speculatively assuming an underreporting of 1- to 3-fold, the figure proposed by these authors would be overestimated by 2.5 to 5 times.

Now there is a similar issue with the method by which researchers currently determine induced-abortion-related mortality, that is, the number of women who die from abortions.

Abortion-related mortality is determined by dividing the number of abortion-related deaths by the number of live births.

The International Classification of Diseases considers abortion-related mortality to include deaths by “all pregnancies with abortive outcome”. While this may sound straightforward enough, the reality is complicated, for death by all “pregnancies with abortive outcome” does not necessarily indicate death by botched illegal abortions, but refers to “causes of death ranging from abnormal products of conception to unspecified, and other abortions.” This, as Koch et al show, includes such complications as miscarriage, “hydatidiform mole [and] ectopic pregnancy”.

Again, the study does the universe a favor by pointing out the obvious:

[These] should not be included in the assessment of abortion mortality, particularly when the focus of the study is to address the influence of illegal abortion on maternal health. For example, if one wanted to measure the deleterious effects of alcoholism on the liver, one would want an indicator specific to alcoholism. If that indicator instead included liver damage caused by fulminant hepatitis, Wilson’s disease, and drug-related liver damage, then the specific damage attributable to alcohol would be obscured. Similarly, if one wants to determine mortality from induced abortion, then deaths from other causes (such as hydatidiform mole or ectopic pregnancy) should be excluded.

But studies such as Schiavon et al, “Analysis of maternal and abortion related mortality in Mexico over the last two decades” do include these “abortion-related deaths”. Thus their frightening conclusion, that “(u)nsafe abortion continues to represent a significant proportion of all maternal deaths in Mexico” is rendered a skeptical one.

When Koch et al. removed the “abortion-related deaths” that were not specific to induced abortion — which, after all, is what was being studied — and looked at the numbers again, they found the following:

When taking this into consideration, even though the AMR shown by Schiavon et al displays discrete changes between 1990 and 2008, unspecified abortion (O06) combined with other abortion (O05) between 2002 and 2008 shows a downward trend, with a 22.9% overall decrease from 1.44 to 1.10 deaths per 100,000 live births. This observation further supports the notion that the apparent lack of progress in abortion-related maternal mortality in Mexico is likely to be related to causes other than unspecified abortion (O06) and other abortion (O05), and therefore seems to be unrelated to illegal induced abortion. (Emphasis my own.)

The study goes on to suggest that the apparent lack of progress in abortion-related maternal mortality seems more strongly correlated with an increase in violence against pregnant women in Mexico.

Obviously, there is much more to the study, including recommended alternatives to Guttmacher’s surveys and the the general use of ICD codes to determine abortion-related mortality. But these two points represent a paradigm shift in the way we view the legalization of abortion. If the primary method of establishing abortion rates in countries that restrict abortion is flawed, producing impossibly exaggerated numbers, the oft-repeated argument that legalizing abortion is a dire necessity is rendered null. If the primary method by which researchers determine the number of women dying from illegal abortions is flawed, including deaths that are not the result of induced abortion, then the oft-repeated emotional argument that women are dying from the lack of legalized abortion is similarly called into question. In fact, the argument sidetracks the conversation, and detracts resources away from the issues that truly do effect maternal mortality, such as the “adequate medical treatment of conditions such as hemorrhage, gestational hypertension, eclampsia, and indirect causes of maternal death, mainly characterized by pre-existing chronic diseases.”

The importance of this study cannot be understated. The lessons of Mexico should, at the very least, curb our enthusiasm for the widespread legalization of abortion.

1. Singh & Bankole, Ginecol Obstet Mex 2012;80(8):554–561. Article in Spanish
2. Stanley Henshaw, Guttmacher Institute (16 June 1994)

Reprinted with permission from Marc Barnes’ blog on Patheos.


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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

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By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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