Monday, March 06, 2006

What's with the parental consent study?

The blogosphere is abuzz over the New York Times article, "Scant Drop Seen in Abortion Rate if Parents Are Told".

The New York Times looked at data from six states, and found "a scattering of divergent trends".
For instance, in Tennessee, the abortion rate went down when a federal court suspended a parental consent requirement, then rose when the law went back into effect. In Texas, the rate fell after a notification law went into effect, but not as fast as it did in the years before the law. In Virginia, the rate barely moved when the state introduced a notification law in 1998, but fell after the requirement was changed to parental consent in 2003.

What I find interesting is that the New York Times based their conclusions on data from six states, when fully 34 states have parental involvement laws in effect. Are we seeing a little data massage going on here?

So, I looked elsewhere.

"Using Natural Experiments to Analyze the Impact of State Legislation on the Incidence of Abortion" noted that data "indicate that when a parental involvement law is enacted, the abortion rate decreases by 16.37 abortions for every thou sand live births and the abortion rate decreases by 1.15 abortions for every thousand women between the ages of 15 to 44. Parental involvement laws that are passed by a legislature and then later nullified by the judiciary result in modest increases in the abortion rate and a modest decline in the abortion ratio."

Religious Tolerance: "Parental Consent and Notification Laws for Teen Abortions: Pro and Con" noted mixed results.

What this all boils down to is this:

1. That we have no clear data on the impact of parental involvement laws on teen abortion rates is old news.

2. Contrary to abortion proponents' prognositications, we've not seen hoards of coathanger-impaled teenagers strewn across the front lawns of states with parental involvement laws.

So whatup with all this buzz? It's as if the New York Times published a study indicating that cats catch mice, and everybody got in to a tizzy about it. There's something odd going on here.

And I'm gonna place a bet: The next time a parental involvement law comes up in a legislature or in court, we'll still hear the cries of how the law in question will lead to massive carnage among the teen population.

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