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Evidence Check

Claim that Most Abortion Clinics Are Located in Black or Hispanic Neighborhoods Is False (July 9, 2014)

Background

Antiabortion activists often claim that most abortion clinics are located in predominantly black or Hispanic neighborhoods. However, this claim—offered as supposed proof that abortion providers “target” minority women—is false.

Key findings

  • About six in 10 abortion providers are located in neighborhoods where more than half of residents are white.
  • Fewer than one in 10 abortion providers are located in neighborhoods where more than half of residents are black.
  • Some 13% of abortion providers are located in neighborhoods where more than half of residents are Hispanic.

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Debunking a Critique of Guttmacher’s Methodology To Estimate Unsafe Abortion (July 30, 2012)

In a report published in the May 2012 issue of the journal Ginecología y Obstetricia de México, Elard Koch, of Chile’s Catholic University of the Most Holy Conception, et al., criticized a methodology developed by the Guttmacher Institute to estimate the number and rate of induced abortions and complications from unsafe abortions in countries where the procedure is highly restricted. However, Koch, et al. fail in both their attempt to discredit the Guttmacher methodology and their effort to present an alternative methodology for estimating abortion incidence in countries where the procedure is highly restricted.

  • Koch, et al. attempt to raise doubts about Guttmacher’s methodology by seriously distorting and misrepresenting many aspects of it. Guttmacher rejects these false criticisms and stands by the validity of its methodology.
  • Koch, et al.’s proposed alternative methodology is based on scientifically unsound and illogical assumptions and contains such serious errors that its results are not valid.
  • The Guttmacher-developed methodology bases its estimates on country-specific data and has provided consistently reliable estimates. It follows a rigorous scientific and realistic approach. Studies using this methodology have been peer-reviewed by independent experts multiple times (that is, each study has undergone peer review) and published in a number of respected journals. This approach and the findings it has generated have also been used by international organizations such as the World Health Organization.

…read more in English and Spanish.

Advisory: Review of a Study by Koch et al. on the Impact of Abortion Restrictions on Maternal Mortality in Chile (May 23,2012)

A new study by Koch et al. asserting that the expansion of abortion restrictions in Chile in 1989 did not lead to an increase in the incidence of abortion-related mortality has serious conceptual and methodological flaws that render its findings invalid.

  • Chile’s pre-1989 abortion law was already highly restrictive, thus no conclusions can be drawn about the impact of a change from liberal to restrictive laws.
  • The authors rely on a far too narrow, unreliable evidence base.
  • The argument that restrictive abortion laws do not have a negative impact on women’s health is not supported by the existing body of evidence.
  • The authors underestimate the incidence of hospitalization for complications from unsafe abortion in Chile.

…read more in English and Spanish.

Advisory: Life Dynamics Inc. Confirms Guttmacher Findings, Then Attempts to Move the Goalposts (August 31, 2011 )

In August 2011, Life Dynamics Inc., an antiabortion rights group, published a report which purports to counter a previous Guttmacher’s analysis of the location of abortion providers.

  • The basic takeaway from the Life Dynamics report is that it confirms Guttmacher’s findings—abortion providers are overwhelmingly not located in predominantly African American or Hispanic neighborhoods.
  • No longer able to support its previous talking point, Life Dynamics expansively redefines the meaning of “minority” neighborhoods. The new definition is so broad that even zip codes where only, for example, 10% of the population is African American or Hispanic suddenly qualify as minority neighborhoods.

...read more

Abortion and Mental Health (updated January 2011)

For two decades, the highest-quality scientific evidence available has led to the conclusion that abortion does not cause mental health problems for most women.

  • This was the bottom-line conclusion of two major, comprehensive reviews conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA).
  • Women report feeling a range of emotions after having an abortion. While relief is the most common reported emotion, some women also experience feelings of sadness or guilt. A woman’s mental health before she faces an unwanted pregnancy is the best indicator as to her likely mental health after an abortion.
  • Not all studies on the mental health impact of abortion are created equal; in fact, according to the APA, methodological flaws are “pervasive in the literature on abortion and mental health.”1(p. 92) Antiabortion activists often attempt to capitalize on the fact that the public and many policymakers cannot distinguish between studies that allow legitimate conclusions to be drawn about the effects of abortion and those that show only associations between abortion and mental health outcomes.

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Review of New Study on a Theory-Based Abstinence Program (February 2010)

An abstinence-only intervention aimed at young, urban African-American adolescents successfully delayed sexual initiation among participants in the program, according to a well-designed new study by John B. Jemmott and colleagues.

  • While the evaluated program is the first abstinence-only intervention to demonstrate this positive impact in a randomized control trial, it was not a rigid “abstinence-only-until-marriage” program of the type that, until this year, received significant federal funding.
  • The evaluation, therefore, adds important new information to the question of “what works” in sex education, but it essentially leaves intact the significant body of evidence showing that abstinence-only-until-marriage programming that met previous federal guidelines is ineffective.

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Advisory on the Impact of Parental Involvement Laws (October 2008)

Antiabortion activists claim that state laws requiring parental involvement (such as notification or consent) for minors to obtain abortions have been a major contributing factor to declining abortion rates among minors in the United States. However, most studies on the subject have serious flaws and are not able to substantiate the claim.

  • There is no strong evidence that parental involvement laws have prevented many minors from obtaining abortions and most studies purporting to show a significant impact of such laws suffer from a range of serious methodological flaws.
  • Minors’ abortion rates have been declining steadily for years, both in states with and without parental involvement laws. The decline in minors’ abortion rates is largely the result of fewer teen pregnancies, which, in turn, reflect better contraceptive use among adolescents.
  • Even in the absence of parental involvement laws, some six in 10 minors involve at least one parent in their decision to have an abortion. Mandating this involvement can be harmful to some minors.

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Review of Key Findings of "Emerging Answers 2007" (November 2007)

In November 2007, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy released “Emerging Answers 2007,” an authoritative and comprehensive review of research findings on the effectiveness of comprehensive and abstinence-only sex education programs. This report includes two key findings (please note that these are not direct quotes from the report):

  • To date, no abstinence program of the type eligible for funding under the federal government’s $176 million abstinence-only-until-marriage program has been found in a methodologically rigorous study to positively impact teen sexual behavior. Therefore, there is no evidence base to support continued investments of public funds in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
  • A substantial majority of the comprehensive sex education programs reviewed—which receive no dedicated federal funding—are effective. The positive outcomes included delaying the initiation of sex, reducing the frequency of sex, reducing the number of sexual partners and increasing condom or contraceptive use. Also, the report shows that comprehensive sex education programs do not promote promiscuity, nor is their message confusing for adolescents.

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Advisory on Zogby Poll Commissioned by NAEA (July 2007)

In May 2007, the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA) released a survey conducted on its behalf by Zogby International that purports to show broad public support for abstinence-only education.

  • The survey’s questions are biased and misleading and its findings should not be cited as accurately representing public opinion. The survey relies on outright falsehoods in its representation of abstinence-only education, for instance giving the false impression that abstinence-only programs provide balanced and complete information about contraception.
  • In contrast, polls that accurately describe the content of different sex education programs consistently find that Americans strongly support comprehensive sex education that both promotes abstinence and protective behaviors—and that parents overwhelmingly oppose the extreme abstinence-only-until-marriage approach promoted by the NAEA.

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Advisory on ACF Review of Comprehensive Sex Ed Curricula (July 2007)

In June 2007, the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released a poorly conducted report on the content and effectiveness of nine comprehensive sex education curricula. The ACF’s report should not be viewed or described as a credible or unbiased assessment of the content of comprehensive sex education curricula.

  • The ACF’s content analysis would never pass peer review by an established journal. Its rudimentary approach simply counted how often 89 words or phrases were used in each curriculum, a methodology that significantly undercounts the extent to which the programs addressed topics that go beyond the very limited word identification.
  • Despite the study’s overall bias against comprehensive sex education, its literature review acknowledges that seven of the eight examined comprehensive sex education curricula had positive impacts on delaying sexual debut and/or increasing condom use among sexually active teens; it also found that the “medical accuracy of comprehensive sex education curricula is nearly 100%.”

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