The recent uproar over Planned Parenthood’s callous treatment of unborn babies has certainly been appropriate. How can you not be outraged when one of Planned Parenthood’s top official’s words and demeanor convey a repulsive message along the lines of, “You know, I crush below and I crush beneath so I can preserve the organs, and, wow, this salad is amazing!”
Rightfully so, millions of people have been outraged by a mindset that treats human beings like junk cars, valuable only for their “parts.” But, perhaps overshadowed amidst all of the debate about Planned Parenthood, is the heartening fact that abortions are declining in practically every state in the country. So, yes, we need to continue to investigate Planned Parenthood, but we also need to continue to pursue other avenues to even further reduce the number of innocent lives lost to abortion. And, in many ways, Utah is leading the nation.
According to an Associated Press survey of states released last month, Utah’s abortion rate dropped 16 percent between 2010 and 2014, while the country as a whole saw a 12 percent decrease. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks Utah seventh for lowest abortion rate in the country.
Utah is in the top third of states for number of major restrictions placed on access to abortion. In 2012, for example, the Utah Legislature enacted a law requiring a woman to wait 72 hours after a face-to-face meeting with an abortion provider before proceeding with the abortion. Representative Steve Eliason (R-Sandy), told The Salt Lake Tribune the law is intended to provide a “‘a cooling-off period,’ during which [Eliason] hoped women who felt pressured to get an abortion by a husband or boyfriend would be able to reconsider.”
But it’s not just states with a high number of restrictions on abortion that have seen a decrease. All of the 18 states with three or fewer abortion restrictions also saw major declines in the abortion rate. Hawaii, for example, saw a decline of 30 percent, and New York’s abortion rate declined 15 percent.
So the decrease in abortions can’t just be attributed to public policy. Other possible factors include things like the economy. In hard economic times, many couples might be more sensitive to the costs of having a child, and so will try all that much harder to avoid becoming pregnant. But abortion rates don’t always decline with a declining economy.
Others point to increased use of contraceptives, and there is evidence that supports the idea that as contraceptive use increases, abortion rates decrease. Implicit in the use of contraceptives is the idea that if a child is not desired, it is better not to get pregnant at all. The reasoning for some might be one of convenience. But for others, the desire to avoid pregnancy when a child isn’t wanted is due to the reality that an unborn baby really is a human being, and killing that child is a repulsive idea.
And, lastly, here in Utah at least, we can safely say there exists a culture that values life. Once again, Utah is leading the nation in this regard. As the second most religious state in the nation, Utah is full of communities that believe unborn human life deserves protection. Take Utah County. It is one of the most religious counties in the state, and has an abortion rate of 22.9 abortions for every 1,000 babies born. In contrast is the much less religious Summit County, where the abortion rate is seven times as high as Utah County’s.
But you don’t have to be religious to believe abortion is wrong. As Timothy Jackson adroitly explains in an article on The Federalist blog, “If the unborn is not alive, an abortion would not be necessary. If the unborn is not a human being, what kind of being is it?”
In the end, whatever the reasons, there are fewer babies being killed via abortion in the United States. I, for one, fail to see how anyone could consider that a bad thing. For Sutherland Institute, I’m Dave Buer. Thanks for listening.
This post is a transcript of the Sutherland Soapbox, a 4-minute weekly radio commentary aired on several Utah radio stations. The podcast can be found below.
Receive this broadcast each week directly to your iTunes by clicking here.
Photo: detail from drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, Views of a Fetus in the Womb.