Monday, December 01, 2008

The Leading Cause of Death In Spain

LifeSiteNews reports that the leading cause of death in Spain is now abortion. In a nation where there are no real restrictions on abortion, the report notes that, “the equivalent population of a mid-sized high school disappears every three days. Every twenty days the death toll equals the annual number of people killed in car wrecks. The total death toll, more than a million Spaniards since 1985, is the equivalent of multiple Spanish provinces.”

Some of the rest of the report:

Abortion is now the number one cause of death in Spain, and represents the most common type of violence against women in the formerly Catholic country, according to a new report by the international Institute for Family Policy (IPF).

The report, which was issued on the International Day of Violence Against Women, notes that Spain has one of the most liberal abortion laws in Europe, allowing women to kill their unborn child for "psychological" reasons at any time during their pregnancy.

Under Spain's practically nonexistent restrictions, abortions have more than doubled since the mid 1990s, climbing from 51,006 in 1996 to over 120,000 in 2007. The abortion rate is now approaching one in five pregnancies (18.3%), according to the report.

Although purely elective abortions are not technically legal under Spanish law, the vast majority (97%) were undertaken due to a purported psychological or physical risk to the mother.

Undercover investigations by Spanish media in late 2007 showed that abortion clinics in Spain maintain financial ties with psychologists who automatically issue assessments to abortion clinic customers stating that the woman is psychologically at risk from her pregnancy.

Our nation’s laws may be headed in the same direction with the likely enactment of FOCA (the Freedom of Choice Act). What is FOCA and what does it do? There is a great detailed description of it on the Between Two Worlds blog with links to the legal statues and legislation behind it all.

Bottom line, FOCA will eliminate all legislated restrictions on access to abortion, effectively putting us in the same legal boat as Spain. And as we now see with Spain, the old canard that the broader the liberty to chose abortion the fewer there will be, is totally without any merit.



Anonymous said...

Hey Phil - quite agreed about FOCA. Seems to be a terrible idea, undoing even the weakest of policies (I wouldn't even call them 'restrictions') related to abortion. I very much hope it doesn't get enacted.

About the relation between abortion legislation and abortion rates, it seems very hard to tell what to make of (i.e. how to explain) the data. Europe had one of the highest abortion rates in the mid-90's, and some of the fewest legal restrictions. But the great bulk of those abortions came from Eastern Europe, where the rate was something like 90 abortions per 1000 women. Western Europe, meanwhile, had one of the lowest abortion rates in the world (about 11-12 per 1000). The legal status of abortion didn't differ much between Eastern and Western Europe. So, obviously, other factors seemed to play a much larger role than abortion laws. About 5 years ago, Latin America - with some of the strictest abortion laws - led the world's abortion rate, although not by much. So it's not easy to see how much of a country's abortion rate (or even how much of the *change* in a country's abortion rate over time) is due to legal differences/changes. Access to reproductive planning, e.g. birth control, does seem to be fairly strongly correlated with a lower abortion rate, but there are exceptions to that general rule as well.

Know of any good sites/sources that have information on the effect of abortion law changes (liberalization/restrictions) on the abortion rate? I imagine that sort of info is very hard to come by, since there are so many factors that (can) affect abortion rates. But it seems to be very important information. If, for instance, it turned out that certain social policies, or access to birth control, or certain types of education (abstinence-only, non-abstinence-only, etc.), or certain social supports, or certain cultural/religious values/institutions, or certain legal details, etc. played larger or smaller roles in affecting the abortion rate, that would seem to be extremely significant for people to know. Everyone wants to reduce the abortion rate; is focusing on legal restrictions the most promising route? Will giving everyone a condom do the most toward that end? What would having access to various health services do? Etc... It seems that people of all political backgrounds in this country could find some common ground, perhaps, in the common desire to reduce the number of abortions, if everyone knew the relative effectiveness of various strategies, no?

Brian B

Phil Steiger said...


I think you are right that it is obviously true that the factors contributing to abortion rates are many, intertwined, and complicated (and probably hard to sort out). It might be that Eastern European abortion rates are affected by struggling economies as much as anything else, and in another nation the significant factor may be the cultural weight of a given religious point of view. Given any society, the economic outlook, the strength of various religious beliefs, legislative factors, and so many other things play their roles.

On a legislative and legal level, however, a nation/state may only be able to change a small handful of those key factors, and whether their consequences are small or great I believe the nation/state is responsible for their policies.

It seems to me, on the face of it, that reducing barriers to abortion can only have the consequence of either encouraging more or actually allowing more abortions. It may be the case that if a law like FOCA is enacted and abortion rates actually go down, that will likely be because of other factors. I just don’t see either the practical or logical link directly between “make abortion more available” and “there will be fewer abortions.”

In fact, I don’t see the logical link between “I want there to be fewer abortions” and “make abortion more available.” What makes much more sense to me is the belief “I want there to be fewer abortions” leading to the political consequence of “make abortions harder to get.”

Maybe I am a bit cynical at this point, but because of considerations like these I am not so sure there is a real hope for common ground. I believe the goals of laws like FOCA are not practical (i.e. reducing the abortion rate) but ideological (i.e. “choice” is a right, even an unmitigated good). And because the crux of the debate is ideological rather than practical, there is a much deeper divide than which policy suites our similar practical goal. The fundamental difference between, say, supporters and detractors of FOCA, is not about how to reduce the number of abortions, but which is a greater value in our society – life or choice.