No matter how you feel about the pro-choice/anti-choice issue, it's always been difficult to examine data on the number of legal abortions in the U.S. on a state-by-state level. Now The Guardian newspaper's DataBlog has performed a real service in pulling together the latest numbers (from 2005) on the number of abortions state-by-state.
They both confirm certain things you might expect (abortions tend to happen more often in big, blue states) but also prove surprising (the large number of red states where anti-choice is strongest but where the abortion procedure, it turns out, is quite common).
Then there is this number: 233. That's the number of abortions per 1,000 live births. That high number may surprise quite a few people. I suppose it will confirm for the anti-choice side that the procedure is out of control -- as the "religious right" just today made new moves in Washington -- while to others indicating that is too widespread to be denied without massive repercussions.
Even in small, conservative, allegedly anti-choice Kansas, for example, there were over 10,000 legal abortions in 2005. In deep-red Utah, which had a relatively low rate, there were over 3500 in that one year, or about 10 per day.
Actually, the national percentage is probably even higher, as The Guardian was unable to secure numbers for California. Even so, that 233/1000 is the lowest number in these stats since 1973. The national total hit 820,000 legal abortions in 2005 year and has not topped 1 million since 1997. The numbers all come from the Centers for Disease Control.
These red or reddish states have high numbers for frequency of abortion, just under the national "233/1000" average: Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas.
Right at or above the norm: Georgia, Kansas, Nevada, N. Carolina, Virginia.
The smaller, redder states also tend to have the highest percentage of mothers under the age of 19 electing to have abortions. Among the leaders: Montana, Alaska, North Dakota. Vermont.
States with the highest rates of legal abortions, at 400 per 1000 lives births or greater: New York, then Florida and Rhode Island. The rate for New York City is over 700/1000.
Today, a protester threw a film box at Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who was discussing being banned from taking communion because of his views on abortion.
Go here for more and for video on Baltimore City Council passing new law making "pro-life" counseling center post notices that they do NOT provide referrals for abortions.
Greg Mitchell's latest book is "Why Obama Won." He is editor of Editor & Publisher. He also blogs here.