Thursday, October 09, 2008

So much for that idea, right?

HT: Thoughts of a Regular Guy

New Study Shows More Contraception, Birth Control Don't Reduce Abortions. Something we've known for decades.

AGI, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, released a new report showing that abortions are done at higher rates on black, poor, and older women. (Emphasis mine)

At the same time, it shows that young women who are in college or slightly older or younger obtain the highest number of abortions. (Emphasis mine)

Wright contends this is a group of people who have the easiest access to contraception and the most knowledge about birth control because they grew up in a culture where it has been prevalent.

"The majority of women who are having abortions are those in their twenties," Wright told OneNewsNow. "These are college career women. These are not women who lack access to contraception or lack knowledge of contraception."


Last month, government figures in Sweden showed the number of abortions has increased 17 percent from 2000 to 2007 despite higher sales of the morning after pill increasing during the same time period.

Though at first this may seem counter-intuitive. How can means of preventing pregnancy lead to more abortions? But you have to take behavior into account.

The use of a contraceptive method will decrease the odds that any given act of sexual intercourse will result in pregnancy. However, ready access to contraception increases the frequency of sexual intercourse.

If the increase in frequency of sexual intercourse is enough to offset the reduction in risk of pregnancy, you'll get more pregnancies.

Let's say that you have invented the Bounce Safe. It's to prevent fatal construction site accidents. You have extensively tested the Bounce Safe. If it's maintained properly and worn properly, it will prevent death in 99% of construction site falls. So you figure that introducing Bounce Safe will reduce fatal construction site falls by 99%, right?

But it turns out that you didn't consider the human factor.

People don't take such good care of Bounce Safe. They don't always clean it after wearing it. They don't always return it properly to its case between wearings. These two factors alone significantly reduce the efficacy of the Bounce Safe. Also, many people don't put the Bounce Safe on properly. They don't fasten it properly. They don't make the proper adjustments to the fitting. They just put it on and go. This also reduces the efficacy of Bounce Safe.

And, worst of all, having the Bounce Safe eliminates the fear of falling. Construction workers stop putting up proper safety guards. They walk onto unstable surfaces. They take all manner of risks, confident that their Bounce Safe gear will protect them. Worst of all, they develop these bad habits -- and they practice the bad habits even when they've forgotten to put the Bounce Safe on at all.

So, in actual practice, construction sites that make the Bounce Safe readily available actually wind up having a higher rate of fatal falls than sites that don't have the Bounce Safe.

So, your intentions in creating and distributing Bounce Safe don't play out into the real world. Human factors end up making sites with Bounce Safe gear more deadly than sites that reject Bounce Safe.

What do you do? Do you keep pushing for Bounce Safe, regardless of the real-world results?

That's what we've got with contraception. People don't use it properly or consistently. People that embrace it are the most likely to take risks. They end up with more pregnancies that they didn't intend than people that reject contraception.

What do you do?

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Anonymous said...

Happens all the time. Not just in contraception.

Edward Tenner's Why Things Bite Back: New Technology and the Revenge Effect doesn't touch on contraception but it goes through -- thoroughly -- why things can have less effect than you expect, or even the reverse.

Kathy said...

Excellent post and analogy!!

GrannyGrump said...

Thanx, marycatelli. Here's a link. I'll have to check out that book!

whatev4 said...

So what's the solution? Oppose access to contraception? Will THAT decrease unintended pregnancies? I don't think so. You are not taking consideration of human behavior: When people want it badly, they will have it no matter what. So I'd rather them do it safely and with the proper precautions than do it without.

Christina Dunigan said...

whatev4, I just pointed out that it's the Contraception as a Magic Bullet crowd who are failing to take human behavior into account.

Or mayne some of them ARE taking human behavior into account and profiting from it. An bortion clinic pushinh the Pill as prevention WILL generate more ill-timed pregnancies and thus more abortions and more revenue.