Friday, January 07, 2011

Statistics, Or, When Does Life Begin, Exactly?

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Archbishop Timothy Dolan is pretty steamed about the large percentage of abortions occurring in New York City. Admittedly, the number provided by the city Department of Health is a bit chilling: 38.7%. More than a third of pregnancies ending in abortion? Why aren't people using birth control??

But the Archbishop claimed an even higher number:

“That 41% of New York babies are aborted, a percentage even higher in the Bronx and among our African-American babies in the womb, is downright chilling,” said the archbishop, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in New York City. “I invite all to come together to make abortion rare,” he added.

Where does the Archbishop get 2.3% more abortions from?

According to the WSJ:
The numbers were released by the Chiaroscuro Foundation, a not-for-profit supporting alternatives to abortion... Foundation officials didn’t include miscarriages in their total pregnancy number, resulting in the different rates.
If a pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, it wasn't included as part of the total number of pregnancies. The number of abortions remained constant, but the Foundation shrunk the total pregnancy number, accounting for the slightly higher percentage of abortions.

There's no valid statistical reason for the Foundation to do what they did. A pregnancy that ends in miscarriage is still a pregnancy that could have ended in abortion instead. So it should be included in the total pregnancy figure.

Unless the Foundation, and the Archbishop, believe pregnancies that end in miscarriage don't count as pregnancies.

That's what the figures they're using imply: a failed pregnancy was never a pregnancy at all. And if they believe that, then does that mean there was never any baby at all? By leaving out the pregnancies that ended in miscarriage, the Foundation and the Archbishop posit that pregnancy only counts as pregnancy if a baby could have come out of the womb alive. And we know there's no 100% guarantee of that at any stage of pregnancy, no matter how well a fetus is progressing. If a miscarriage was never a pregnancy, does this mean the Foundation and the Archbishop are tacitly acknowledging the gray area that exists between conception and birth?

Either the Chiaroscuro Foundation and the Archbishop left out the miscarriages to deceptively goose the abortion rate higher, or they're unsure as to when "life" really begins.

And if even the faithful are unsure, then how can anyone create a law defining it?

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