Sunday, December 03, 2006

Finally, some data

After insulting the intelligence of anyone who dared question him, John Bambenek has updated his anti-feminist tirade at his blog to include the studies he used in his DI editorial. So lets take a look at what he's basing his opinions on.

His first point was that "99% percent of all abortions" are for "sexual convenience." Unfortunately, the link he posted is broken, so it's hard to judge that. But, he said that he used the Guttmacher Institute for his data. Instead, lets take a look at an article they list in their Abortion section: Lawrence Finer, et al. "Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives" Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. 2005, 37(3):110–118. The reasons that women have abortions are varied and complicated, but the largest reasons are that a child would interfere with the mother's education, job, or their ability to care for their current children. Seventy-three percent said they wouldn't be able to afford to care for a child. (Respondents could select more than one answer.)

Bambenek wraps all of these up in the petty-sounding description of "convenience," as this reason is not listed anywhere in the study. It's a term that he's invented, he's defined, and which he can use to over-simplify this complicated into a nice, tidy sound bite. I'm not sure how in anyone's mind "I can barely feed the children I have now, and I'll get fired if I have to take off time from work to have another baby" can reasonably be called a matter of "convenience." Obviously, Bambenek concern here is to trivialize the reasons women have abortions to make them sound petty and selfish.

The Guttmacher paper also says that 25% of women cited concerns with their health or the health of the fetus as a consideration. Bambenek casually disregards these concerns with:

Now I don’t regard "health" of the mother as particularly indicative of anything because pregnancy is, by definition, a HUGE factor for the health of the mother and comes with no small share of risk. It’s used flippantly in debates and I have no reason to see the same crowd doesn’t use it flippantly in research.

Wait, what? First he says that pregnancy is a "huge factor for the health of the mother" and then disregards these concerns as "flippant." In other words, there's this huge issue, which one in four women consider when having an abortion, and Bambenek is just going to ignore it because he finds it inconvenient.

Well, next time my cousin in lying in the hospital with pre-eclampsia, pumped full of steroids to where she looked like a balloon so that the baby's lungs would develop enough that he would be able to survive when they delivered him prematurely, I'll make sure to tell her to stop whining because she's being "flippant."

Actually, it looks like Bambenek's choice of the word "convenience" may be part of a tactic of the anti-choice movment as a whole. Quoting from the Guttmacher paper:

Yet some broad concepts emerged from the study. A crosscutting theme was women’s responsibility to children and other dependents, as well as considerations about children they may have in the future. Most women in every age, parity, relationship, racial, income and education category cited concern for or responsibility to other individuals as a factor in their decision to have an abortion. In contrast to the perception (voiced by politicians and laypeople across the ideological spectrum) that women who choose abortion for reasons other than rape, incest and life endangerment do so for "convenience," our data suggest that after carefully assessing their individual situations, women base their decisions largely on their ability to maintain economic stability and to care for the children they already have.

(I was also going to look at the studies he offers showing how women become emotionally "devastated" if they have sex, but I just don't have time tonight. More later.)


Fig said...

Yay! you're hitting on some of my favorite subjects. Keep it up!!

Narc said...

You might share your insight into this topic, since I suspect you might actually know what you're talking about.