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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Dubious abortion statistics, courtesy of RH bill supporters

From Filipinos for Life:

AFTER BEING caught using old data on maternal deaths, pro-RH lobbyists have again been found playing loose with statistics, this time with the number of abortions.

The group Filipinos For Life (F4L), in a statement, welcomed Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s recent admission that the figure 570,000 abortions mentioned in her sponsorship speech for the Reproductive Health (RH) bill was merely an “extrapolation.”

“Fresh from their debacle on the debunked ‘11 maternal deaths a day’ statistic, pro-RH groups should now come clean on how they came up with their dubious abortion figures,” F4L said.

F4L bared that the methodology used by the pro-RH lobby involves a “magic multiplier,” the basis of which is “doubtful, at best” – small, non-random surveys and anecdotal evidence or “personal knowledge.”

“This is hardly empirical,” F4L said.

The methodology, developed by New York-based Guttmacher Institute and the UP Population Institute, simply multiplies the number of women hospitalized for complications due to abortion by 6 or 7, based on multiple assumptions that cannot be validated.

Santiago’s figure comes from the 2009 Guttmacher-UP study “Meeting Women’s Contraceptive Needs in the Philippines” that estimated 3.371 million pregnancies in 2008. Out of this, 17% (573,000) supposedly ended up in “induced abortions.”

There were 90,000 hospital admissions due to induced abortions in 2008, the study claimed, which meant that the multiplier used was between 6 and 7 to produce an inflated figure of 573,000 induced abortions.

‎The study’s authors themselves stated that “available information does not permit estimation of regional-level multipliers.” F4L asked: “Why was the non-empirically derived multiplier used to create a national guesstimate?”

F4L pointed out that Guttmacher-UP’s methodology did not change since an earlier study that used data for the year 2000, and no efforts were exerted to get more reliable counts.

In the older study “The Incidence of Induced Abortion in the Philippines: Current Level and Recent Trends,” published in 2005, Guttmacher-UP claimed 78,901 women were hospitalized due to abortion complications in the country in the year 2000. It inflated the figure to arrive at 473,408 induced abortions in 2000, using a multiplier of 6.

Even the hospital numbers are highly questionable, F4L said. For more than a thousand hospitals, the study simply assumed that the number of abortion-related hospitalizations would be one-half of the number of the top 10th cause of hospital admission, whatever it was.

For hospitals with incomplete records, the number of patients was simply adjusted to follow the proportions based on the number of months reported. “Mathematical equations, meanwhile, produced around 6,000 abortions in hospitals with no records at all,” F4L noted.

F4L said fudging data was the same tactic used by lobbyists to legalize abortion in the United States, pointing to the testimony of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) who later turned his back on the pro-choice movement and produced the anti-abortion documentary “The Silent Scream.”

“At NARAL, one of our favorite tactics was to distort and magnify statistics. We would say, for instance, that there were one million illegal abortions and that 10,000 women died in the United States [because of these illegal abortions], when actual studies would show something like 200,000 illegal abortions and only 200-300 died,” Nathanson said in a 2002 story published in a local magazine.

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