Safe, legal, and not rare enough

Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) latest American abortion survey contained much toastworthy news. It also had a few nasty, racially-tinged surprises for us.

Let’s start with the news-for-celebration. It is real and, frankly, a whole lot more pleasant to contemplate:

  • The authors of “Abortion Surveillance” note that in 2010 (the latest year for which statistics are out) the “total number and rate of reported abortions…decreased 3% and reached the lowest levels for the entire period of analysis.”
  • “From 2001 to 2010, the total number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions decreased 9%, 10%, and 8%, respectively.”
  • Over that same longish period, “the percentage of all abortions accounted for by adolescents and the adolescent abortion rate decreased.”
  • This drop in abortions among teens coincides with a drop in teen pregnancies. American girls are waiting longer to have sex and consequently not getting knocked up as often.

That abortion has undergone a long decline is something that most Americans, from pro-lifers to those who believe with former President Bill Clinton that abortion ought to be “safe, legal and” — like this publication — “rare,” ought to applaud.

In spite of a permissive legal environment for abortion, one mandated by the Supreme Court and almost unmatched in the developed world, Americans are exercising their right to choose in record numbers — by not having abortions.

Americans are preventing pregnancies in the first place through restraint or contraception. And they’re bringing babies to term that would have been goners in the not-so-distant past.

Less praiseworthy is news of abortions among African-American women. The authors put this as delicately as possible. The decreases “for non-Hispanic black women were smaller than for other groups,” they explain.

Of the total abortion pie chart, “non-Hispanic white women and non-Hispanic black women accounted for the largest percentages of abortions” — at “36.8% and 35.7%, respectively.”

That doesn’t sound awful until you consider America’s ethnic pie chart. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2012 America was 63.9% white versus 13.1% black.

So a group that is less than a fourth as large as America’s largest racial category is putting up basically the same number of abortions.

Now, imagine the issue was anything other than abortion: black incarceration rates, death penalty convictions, dropout rates, loan rejections, etc.

Given such a bombshell of a government report, we might expect countless headlines in the New York Times, CNN, and other mainstream news outlets questioning the racially “disparate impact” of American law, accompanying stories that asked experts how this problem might best be addressed.

Abortion is treated differently by the mainstream press for some reason. So we’re mostly left to look to conservative and pro-life publications to give us some sense of What It All Means.

Here are some of those recent, sobering headlines:

Jeremy Lott About the author:
Jeremy Lott helped found and manage four publications for the Real Clear Politics family of websites. He is the author of three books and an e-book, as well as the recognized ghostwriter of former Maryland governor Marvin Mandel’s memoirs. Follow him on Twitter @jeremylottdiary
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