Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com

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Associated Press released a survey they did of states that report abortion statistics where they found that while most states saw reductions in their abortion rates, states that passed no restrictions on abortion since 2011 had larger decreases in the number of procedures reported than red states touted by anti-abortion advocates as “pro-life” champions.

Despite anti-choicers passing several abortion restrictions under the bogus premises of “safety” and “informed consent”, Arizona saw a modest decrease in abortions since 2011, less than half the national average.

Preliminary statistics from the Arizona Department of Health Services for 2014 show Arizona saw a 5 percent decline in abortions since 2011, from 13,606 abortions in 2011 to 12,900 last year.
That compares with a 12 percent decline nationally since 2010, according to the AP survey of all 45 states where abortion reporting is required. Arizona changed its reporting requirements in 2010, so figures before 2011 are not comparable.

Abortion rights advocates say the small drop in Arizona compared with many other states shows that women are not dissuaded from having an abortion once they have made up their mind.

“As you’ve seen across the country, what it doesn’t seem to be related to, at least not very much, are these draconian regulations that state Legislatures attempt to put in place,” said Jodi Liggett, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Arizona. “And I think what you’re seeing in Arizona is despite the intentions of the sponsors of these bills, they’re not actually moving the needle very much.”

Abortion foes disagreed.

“I feel like we have moved the needle — a five percent decrease is still significant,” said Aaron Baer, communications director for the Center for Arizona Policy, which has backed a series of bills targeting abortion that became law. “And at the end of the day, we view it as Arizona’s efforts to pass common-sense laws to protect pre-born children and their mothers have been successful.”

Baer probably shouldn’t be so confident about the (comparatively pathetic) success of those CAP laws for two reasons: One is that Arizona is bordered by states that still have liberal abortion laws (California is actually getting more expansive) so it’s entirely possible that some women from Arizona are traveling to those states for their procedures so as to avoid the hassles of getting them here. The other is that we border Mexico, where there is a booming black market trade in abortion pills.

Leaving aside the availability of more effective birth control methods, which many experts attribute the continuing decrease in abortions nationwide, the ability of some women Arizona women to travel to New Mexico or California to get abortion care, or to get misoprostol from Mexico, could easily account for a reduction of 700 abortions performed in Arizona in 2014 versus 2011. It’s silly to assume that those abortions simply didn’t happen because they weren’t done here by legal providers. But then, I would never expect wisdom from the forced birth crowd. By the way, this stat doesn’t exactly speak well to the efficacy of all those Crisis Pregnancy Centers that have popped up around the state, does it?

If anti-abortion activists in Arizona want to deny the possibility of women traveling outside the state then they also have to ignore that their counterparts in Louisiana and Michigan making that exact claim for why the number of abortions in those states have increased.

In both Louisiana and in Michigan, where abortions rose by 18.5 percent, the increases were due in part to women coming from other states where new restrictions and clinic closures have sharply limited abortion access. Anti-abortion groups said many Ohio women were going to Michigan and many Texas women to Louisiana.

Lori Carpentier, chief executive of Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan, argued that one factor in Michigan’s increase was inadequate public funding for family planning.

Genevieve Marnon of Michigan Right to Life said the increase resulted in part from new licensing and inspection regulations that prompted several abortion clinics to close a few years ago. She said some of these clinics had failed to report many of the abortions they performed and that women in those communities were now going to clinics with more scrupulous reporting practices. In all, about a dozen clinics closed; Marnon said 19 remain in operation.

Both sides agree that one factor in Michigan’s upsurge in abortions is an influx of women coming from Ohio, where several abortion clinics recently closed. According to Michigan’s health department, abortions for nonresidents jumped from 708 in 2013 to 1,318 in 2014.

Northland Family Planning, which operates three abortion clinics in southern Michigan, has been openly soliciting business from women in Ohio and Indiana. Its website notes that one of its clinics is less than 60 miles from Toledo, Ohio.

An influx of women from out-of-state also was cited as a reason for Louisiana’s increase. Ben Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, said abortions for nonresidents jumped by more than 1,200 between 2010 and 2012, and suggested new restrictions in Mississippi and Texas were a factor.

But what if there were a state, one that had not passed any abortion restrictions in the past few years and that also was not bordered by any other states? It would help if said state were not exactly easy or cheap to travel to for any reason…

…Oh wait, there is such a state. Hawaii.

The biggest decrease in abortion, percentage-wise, was in Hawaii, where abortions fell from 3,064 in 2010 to 2,147 in 2014. Laurie Temple Field, government relations director for Planned Parenthood in Hawaii, said more women there were getting access to health insurance and affordable contraception. She also credited the state’s policies on sex education in public schools, which includes information to help teens avoid unplanned pregnancies.

Go figure! It’s highly probable that the way blue states are being sensible about sex and unplanned pregnancy prevention does a better job of reducing the number of abortions than the overwrought shitshow we’re being treated to in Red America.

Five of the six states with the biggest declines — Hawaii at 30 percent, New Mexico at 24 percent, Nevada and Rhode Island at 22 percent, Connecticut at 21 percent — have passed no recent laws to restrict abortion clinics or providers.

Nancy Northup, who as CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights has overseen some lawsuits against state restrictions on abortion, said, “All of this effort is being spent on passing legislation and on litigation, when in fact what those states should do is take a look at the blue states and what they’re doing right in decreasing abortions.”

Good luck with that. My experience with right wingers is that when it’s a choice between preventing abortion and punishing women for having sex, they will go with the latter, every time.

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