Contraception can’t halt abortion’s rise

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Sharon Camp, president of the Guttmacher Institute, said the increase of the number of abortions should serve as an “urgent message” to policymakers that access to contraceptive services should be increased to prevent unintended pregnancies. On the other hand, pro-lifers who oppose abortion say the way to reduce unintended pregnancies is through abstinence (“Rise in abortions during recession stalls longtime drop,” Nation, Tuesday).

The reality is counterintuitive: Contraception actually increases the abortion rate. This has been known for decades. In 1970, Malcolm Potts, a former medical director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, said, “Abortion and contraception are inextricably intertwined in their use. As the idea of family planning spreads through a community there appears to be a rise in the incidence of induced abortion at the point where the community begins to initiate the use of contraceptives.”

Ms. Camp said it was clear that black and Hispanic women continued to account for a disproportionate share of abortions because they had relatively high rates of unintended pregnancies. Since the 1970s, Planned Parenthood has targeted blacks and Hispanics by placing its facilities in urban areas, making contraception readily available to them. Sixty percent of black pregnancies and 40 percent of Hispanic pregnancies in New York City end in abortion, clearly showing that abortion is being used as the ultimate contraceptive. Even the Supreme Court in the 1992 Casey decision recognized that surgical abortion is a necessary backup for contraception because Americans “for two decades organized intimate relationships … on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.”

Policymakers should take note that contraception does not reduce abortions and will not eliminate the more than $360 million Planned Parenthood receives annually from the federal government alone.

JOHN NAUGHTON

Silver Spring, Md.

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