Myth that 1 in 3 women have abortions persists despite hard evidence to the contrary
Lauren Enriquez | November 28, 2014
The latest in a pro-choice effort to normalize and de-stigmatize abortion among women is the 1 in 3 Campaign. It’s set up the same way as Not Alone; women share stories of why they’re happy they had abortions. The 1 in 3 Campaign’s entire premise is that abortion is normal and good because 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime.
But, here’s the thing: that’s not true.
Some pretty basic math demonstrates that the real number – far from being the over 33% required to claim “1 in 3 women will have an abortion” – is under 28%. Here’s the breakdown:
The current abortion rate in the Untied States (with the most recent data coming from 2011) is 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44. This information comes from the pro-abortion research organization, the Guttmacher Institute.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 45% of these abortions are repeat abortions, meaning that they are not an individual woman’s first abortion; she has had at least one other abortion in the past. This means that 55% of abortions are first-time abortions.
We must count the first-time abortions each year to figure out how many unique women in total will undergo the abortion process in their lifetime. To do so, we take 55% of the 16.9 per 1,000 total abortion rate. This gives us 9.295 first-time abortions per 1,000 women annually.
Based on the 15-44 age range, there is a 30-year span included in the Guttmacher statistics. 30 years times 9.295 = 278.85, or 279 women out of 1,000 who will have at least 1 abortion in their lifetime. 279 of 1000 = 27.9% not 33%.
A new website called Not1in3 is working to debunk the myth that 33% of women will have an abortion in their lifetime. The website is an initiative of Secular Pro-Life, and is endorsed by many other pro-life organizations. They state:
Yesterday’s abortion statistics are not ironclad rules that dictate the lives of tomorrow’s young women. In the mid-1990s, abortion researchers predicted that nearly half of American women would have an abortion at some point in their lives. Thankfully, that prediction turned out to be wrong.
This history demonstrates that Americans can successfully come together to prevent abortions, and that’s exactly what is happening. When looking at abortion statistics in context, it is readily apparent that the “1 in 3″ claim is inflated. That’s great news for everyone, pro-life or pro-choice, who cares about young women in America!
Go here to read the 2011 study that gave rise to the misinformation upon which the 1 in 3 myth is based. Then, visit Not1in3 to find out what the authors of that study have stated in hindsight about its inaccuracy.
Despite the authors’ own admission that their projections were flawed, pro-choice organizations and their allies in the media have continued to trumpet the misnomer of “1 in 3.”