Wanted, unwanted babies?

Abortion rates are down and unwanted pregnancies are up. What gives?

Published December 22, 2005 1:30PM (EST)

Results of a recent survey show that more unwanted American babies are being born and -- surprise, surprise -- conservative groups are touting these results as a sign that women are becoming less supportive of abortion. Indeed, citing the findings from a yet-to-be completed study by the Guttmacher Institute, antiabortion activists have begun proclaiming far and wide that the correlation is clear-cut. "I don't think there is any mystery here," said Susan Wills, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "It shows a real pro-life shift."

The shift, they claim, is backed up by evidence collected in 1995 and 2002 that compares the number of U.S. women of childbearing age giving birth to babies they didn't want when initially conceived. Though Guttmacher declined to discuss the findings before the official results have been published, assumptions are already being made about the greater societal implications.

Maybe it's just us, but isn't it a no-brainer to assume that as long as women continue to face greater restrictions on abortion care, the numbers of abortions will continue to decrease? Karen Pearl, interim president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, says the study has more to say about "access to family planning, medically accurate sex education and access to abortion than it does about societal values." Parental notification, intimidation at clinics, harassment and government restrictions all impact access to choice. And the past decade has brought a staggering reduction in the number of abortion providers, from 2,400 in 1992 to 1,800 in 2000.

So while it may be reassuring to think all these babies are more wanted after birth, for their sake, we just hope it's true.

By Juliana Bunim

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