Total number of abortions in 1992: 12,685

By Marilyn Burge To Michael Hardy
 MH> To a point I agree with you. But with abortion we are, IMO,
 MH> talking about human life. We as a society do generally
 MH> approve of prohibitions on the taking of human life.
No, we aren't talking about a human life; we're talking about MANY human lives. I have gotten some numbers from the Oregon Vital Statistics people. Let's break down that 1.6 million that is waved around constantly into more manageable and understandable subunits.

If you are willing to assume that Oregon is something akin to a microcosm for the U.S. in general, we can work from that assumption. Although it may not be a perfect microcosm, we have our Bible Belt, our backwoods areas where there is interbreeding and the genetic disasters that are the fruits of that activity, a large metropolitan that comprises about half the population of the State as a whole, and a wide representation of ethnic groups, religious groups, and other various subgroups that are, for the most part, to one proportion or another, also present in the country as a whole.

The table from which these numbers come are more detailed than what I am presenting here, but I input numbers all day, and don't relish coming home to the same activity, so I'll break the numbers down (or aggregate them, as the case may be) into what I consider to be in some way representative of what I am trying to say.

Total number of abortions in 1992: 12,685

Out of a population of some 3,000,000, that is truly a small percentage of the population as a whole that succumbed to the temptation to have an abortion. Taken from this perspective, abortions are not considered to be that viable an option by most of the population in any given year (about 99.6 percent).

Now for a further breakdown of the numbers by age:

Less than 15        79
          15 - 19 2637
          20 - 24 4375
          25 - 29 2570
          30 - 34 1635
          35 - 39  926
          40 - 44  259
          45 +      11
          unknown  193

Now comes the interesting parts:

no previous abortions:          6813
one previous abortion:          3538
two previous abortions:         1351
three previous abortions:        465
four or more previous abortions: 277
So, as you can readily see, the number of abortions decreases fairly dramatically with each one. This tells me that women who have had an abortion are, for the most part, truly trying not to get pregnant again.

Now some of the things that I find truly shocking about these numbers, once theya re broken down:

There are 151 women who had five or more abortions before they were 30 yeaars old! Let's do something to better educate women so they don't have to go through that! Let's teach our little girls to respect themselves enough so they won't WANT to destroy a piece of themselves, simply so they can have a good time on a given night!

More interesting numbers:

Number of living children:  6147
Total women with children:  6420
one live child:             3106
two live children:          2266
three live children:         721
four live children:          245
five or more live children:   82
I also think that these numbers are significant. Although Oregon has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the Nation at the moment, the story was quite different in 1992. And, there are pockets of real poverty, because of a dying wood-products industry that has particularly hit small milltowns mercilessly.

How does a laid-off millworker with no training for any other job, and the only other available jobs requiring a high-tech education support four, five, or more children? In these poverty pockets, people have precious little in life to look forward to besides the comfort of each other. Given that, and the fact that they can afford no other human contact (a drink at the corner bar costs money, as does a Saturday night dance and the like), it is a miracle that there aren't MORE abortions among the millworkers. But, judging from the numbers, there really can't be all that many.

So what group can we make the most headway with in truly changing attitudes and behavior? We can assume that a certain percent of the >15's were impregnated by either their father, their stepfather, or a mother's boyfriend. There is precious little we can do to educate the girls so that this doesn't happen, unfortunately, given the fact that many mothers refuse to believe their daughters when they tell such a tale, for fear of losing a boyfriend or husband themselves by believing them. In fact, often the girls end up getting kicked out of the house because the mother accuses them of seduction.

Except for the college-educated, it is nearly impossible to properly raise more than three children, and provide for them an education that gives them a shot at a decent life. And realistically speaking, it is most unlikely we are going to make much headway in talking a married couple to give up a fourth or fifth child, just because of financial hardship. That is just a fact of life we'll have to live with, whether abortion is legal or not. Forcing these women into illegal abortions is much more likely to make orphans of the children that are already born, thereby exponentially increasing the hardship on both them and their father.

Even the college-educated aren't situated enough to start a family until they have a substantial down payment on a home, adequate health insurance, a little money in the bank, and a job they can depend upon. Nowadays, in realistic terms, that means that they can't start a family and give it any kind of promise for the future until they are in their late 20's or early 30's -- perhaps even later. We can talk about the necessity of a woman staying home and rearing the children once they are born all we want to, but the reality is that few couples will EVER have the kind of income from one parent to make this ideal a reality and still provide for a decent future for their children.

So, reality has changed since the days of Beaver Cleaver, if indeed that "reality" ever actually existed at all. You can only rob your current children of just so much in order to put that one more potato in the pot for the one that's coming, until everybody in the family is starving.

I agree that abortion isn't a good answer to a difficult problem, but unless we are prepared to do a heckuva lot more to provide services for young parents, it is a reality we'll just have to live with, whether abortion continues to be legal or not.

The one thing we can do is change OUR attitude about whether or not a family is truly a family, even if it contains no children. I believe there are a certain number of married couples who would undergo sterilization, if it weren't for the pressure they get to multiply from parents, little old ladies in the supermarket, and many other sources within society as a whole. I remember my BEAUTICIAN trying to convince me that a pregnancy would make my marriage more secure, despite me saying nothing that would lead her to believe my marriage wasn't already glued pretty tightly! It is THIS mentality that we must rid ourselves of as a society. If a couple truly does not want children, they should perceive no pressure from any source to the contrary.

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