Prominent Democrats Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Howard Dean have publicly stated over the last few months that abortions have increased since George W. Bush took office in 2001.
Talking to a group of family-planning providers in New York Sen. Clinton tried to compare the abortion rate under Mr. Bush with the rates under hubby Bill, alleging that rates are higher now than then. She cited three states where rates are higher, and left the clear impression that the experience of those three states was representative of the nation as a whole. In fact, the national average is lower now than under Mr. Clinton.
Defeated Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry said on NBC’s Meet the Press back in January, “and do you know that in fact abortion has gone up in these last few years with the draconian policies that Republicans have” implemented. That statement went unchallenged by moderator Tim Russert. Like Sen. Clinton's statement, it is also untrue.
Just last week Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean said on Meet the Press, “You know that abortions have gone up 25 percent since George Bush was President?” Again Tim Russert failed to challenge the statement, or even question Mr. Dean on it, leaving viewers to believe the 25 percent figure was accurate. It is a gross misstatement.
According to the respected Alan Guttmacher Institute, a 20-year decline in abortion rates has continued since Mr. Bush took office, and unlike Clinton, Kerry and Dean, Guttmacher has the data to back it up. Actually, not long after Mr. Clinton took office there was a pause in the rate of decline for about a year, after which the decline has continued steadily.
The bad data picked up by the three amigos and grossly exaggerated by Mr. Dean came from an article published in the Houston Chronicle, which apparently did not fact-check the data. Obviously, neither did Clinton, Kerry or Dean.
One marvels at the spectacle of Howard Dean. The term “loose cannon” may actually have been created just for him, but it fails to adequately describe his lack of passion for the truth. As for Ms. Clinton and Mr. Kerry, well, what more needs to be said?
Two points need to be made here. First, it is certainly positive for society that abortions are decreasing. Even if you buy into the rationalization that abortion is something other than the killing of a future person, it is difficult to argue that doing less of it is a bad thing. And the fact that Democrats, the champions of abortion rights, use high abortion figures as criticism is a step in the right direction, even if they only use it for short-term political gains.
And second, the press is once again guilty of failing to do its job. Publishing incorrect data on any subject and taking the word of any political party as gospel without checking out its claims are just irresponsible. But that is nothing new for the mainstream media, whose recent history is something akin to Swiss cheese.