The Contraception-Abortion Connection

By Andy Kirchoff

In my personal experience as a pro-life activist, I’ve witnessed people from both sides of the pro-life/pro-choice divide express reservations about the pro-life opposition to contraception.  The “fence-sitters” (those with an expressed indifference to either side of the abortion debate) especially express consternation and even frustration with the pro-life position on this particular issue. “Why oppose contraception?” They ask. “It stops pregnancy, thereby preventing the need for abortion in the first place!”

Pro-choice apologists, for their part, often seize on this particular perceived weakness of the pro-life worldview; they frequently point to a veritable smorgasbord of statistical evidence showing a correlation between an increase in contraceptive use and a decrease in the number of induced abortions. Take, for example, this study conducted in Kazakhstan cited in an FHI report, or this report from Planned Parenthood’s very own research arm, the Guttmacher Institute, regarding a global study that corroborates this same claim.

Neglected in these aforementioned reports and other such studies, however, is the fact that many “contraceptives” (such as the so-called “morning-after pill”) are, in fact, abortifacients – that is, instead of preventing the fertilization of an egg and sperm, these “contraceptives” can and do sometimes  actually destroy a zygote that has already been fertilized. In other words, they can cause an abortion.

Since the wide breadth of studies showing a correlation between increased contraception availability and a corresponding decrease in the number of induced abortion doesn’t acknowledge that many of these prevented pregnancies were, in actuality, abortions, pro-lifers have, at the very least, a strong case for the inconclusive nature of such data. But pro-lifers would also do well to examine the numerous studies that show contraception usage tied to an increase in induced abortions.  For example, the British Medical Journal published a study conducted in the UK in 2006 showing that contraception did absolutely nothing to curb the abortion rate in the country; on the contrary, it showed that abortion rates increased with the increased usage and availability of contraceptives! “Despite  significant increases in the use of emergency contraception in the U.K. over the past 20 years, abortion rates continue to rise, and in Sweden and France the same holds true,” said Anna Glasier, head of the director of family planning and well woman services at Lothian Primary Care National Health Service Trust.

Similar studies were conducted in Washington state here in the USA, where abortions have increased despite public campaigns and state-funded programs aimed at promoting contraceptives and increasing their availability.

Perhaps most telling, however, are the recent findings from the Guttmacher Institute (published in May 2010) that show that 54% of all abortions were performed on women actively using a contraceptive of some sort during the month they became pregnant. These abortions were contingent upon the failure of the contraception; since pregnancy was unwanted during the act of intercourse itself, this “contraceptive mentality” now extends itself to when pills, condoms and diaphragms no longer have any efficacy. Abortion is seemingly the only option left to avoid the unwanted consequence of sex: an unborn child.

Even by Planned Parenthood’s estimates, then, millions of pregnancies occur annually simply due to the failure of contraceptives to act as intended. As long as the failure of even non-abortifacient contraceptives (and, by extension, the “contraceptive mentality” in general) continues, abortions will continue to occur – and so will the pro-life opposition to contraception. Every life is sacred and precious; even one abortion is one abortion too many.

References:

Westoff, C. “The Substition of Contraception for Abortion in Kazakhstan in the 1990s. DHS Analytical Studies No. 1. Contraception and Abortion Trends in Kazakhstan 1991-1998.”  Calverton, MD: ORC. Macro, 2000.

Wind, Rebecca. “Abortion and Unintended Pregnancy Decline Worldwide as Contraceptive use increases.” Guttmacher Institute.

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Morning-after Pill – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Web. 30 Dec. 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/morning-after-pill/MY01190

Ertlet, Steven. “Abortions Rise at Washington Planned Parenthood despite Fewer Pregnancies.” Life News. 18 Nov. 2008.
http://www.lifenews.com/2008/11/18/state-3648/

“Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States.” Guttmacher Institute. May 2010. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

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