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November 01, 2004

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*Raise* the question, not beg the question, please. (see http://strongbrains.com/pages/essay26.htm )

Eek! Yes, Edward: please sign on to my 'protect 'beg the question'' crusade: there is only one short way to say "presuppose your conclusion in the course of your argument", but zillions of ways to say "raise the question".

Interesting about the abortion rate, though.

Something told me the 'abstinence' tactic our government has been pushing would backfire. Forthright reproductive education and easily available birth control for the poor will do the trick if a new administration is in place next year.

NPR had a report this AM on "abstinence-only" education in Texas. (Where else?) One conservative interviewee stated with great confidence that abortion rates had been dropping over the past ten years, thanks, of course, to the glories of "abstinence-only" education programs. Too bad the reporter didn't have this little statistic in hand. It would have been fun to see the gal squirm.

Studies done in the UK tend to show that the one reliable method for lowering teenage pregnancy rates (and hence teenage abortion rates) is to (a) ensure teenagers have a reasonably informative sex education at school, and (b) ensure teenagers are allowed free access to free contraceptives.

You can't stop kids from having sex. You can make sure that they don't get each other pregnant.

are there any reliable public health statistics about the number of abortions before and after Roe? Probably not, eh?

*Raise* the question, not beg the question, please.

Eek! Yes, Edward: please sign on to my 'protect 'beg the question'' crusade:

Alright, alright, I've changed it. Grammar lesson much appreciated.

hilzoy/brian -
as an adjunct to your crusade, you should strongly encourage the use of the original phrase "beggar the question," which, while still a bit obscure, at least suggests the real intention, and is not as easily confused meaning-wise with "raises/demands the question."

Unfortunately that obsolescent construction will be heard by many as "bugger the question", leading to accusations of indecency.

will be heard by many as "bugger the question", leading to accusations of indecency.

But at least avoiding the abortion issue.

Shows the difference between "pro- life" and "anti- choice" pretty strongly. "Pro- lifers" want to reduce the overall number of abortions; "anti- choicers" want to have the courts enforce their "morality". Especially against uppity women.

But at least avoiding the abortion issue.

I was going to try and get this back on thread, hoping someone would criticize or defend Dr. Stassen's data, but when there's the seemingly irresistible blend of grammar and buggery to consider instead...hey, who am I to object.

Kerry has it right in my opinion: "legal, safe, and rare" should be the goal. Those who wish to emphasize the "rare" part I'm very happy to support, so long as they don't undercut the other two.

"But the clear increases in the states noted do raise the question of what's going on there. Why are abortion rates higher than they were under Clinton?"

The framing of the question presupposes that it has anything to do with presidential policy. If, and it is an enormous 'if', it has anything to do even with the economy, the popping tech bubble is surely as much to blame as any presidential policy.

I also want to mention my general loathing of how statistics are reported in the media. This article has a number of red flags for me.

I really wish he talked a bit more about the numbers which he uses for 'abortion rate'. Normally such a figure would be expressed in abortions per 10,000 pregnancies or some other such number. But at the beginning of the article he talks about absolute numbers as representing the 'rate'. He also talks about absolute numbers in the paragraph right after his state abortion rate quotes.

For the states with the largest increase in what he calls 'abortion rate', if he is looking at absolute numbers the change could be largely due to increasing population (Arizona and Colorado) especially if the increasing population is in young people (which I know it is for those two states). Note that migration patterns would also explain the largest drop, Alabama, if he is making this mistake. I'm not affirmatevly claiming he is making that mistake, I'm just saying that his way of talking about it sets off alarm bells. He says he is trained in statistical analysis so I am surprised to see him talk about rates in such a loose way.

I also want to mention my general loathing of how statistics are reported in the media.

Ditto. I tried to make clear that these numbers are sloppy. Still, his central argument (as I see it "It's not enough to want abortions to be decrease, one needs to consider the causes and address those as well), is a good one I believe.

"It's not enough to want abortions to be decrease, one needs to consider the causes and address those as well), is a good one I believe."

Sure. That is true in most areas of political analysis.

Not 100% topical but a fascinating paper: Roe v Wade's effect on crime.

The framing of the question presupposes that it has anything to do with presidential policy. If, and it is an enormous 'if', it has anything to do even with the economy, the popping tech bubble is surely as much to blame as any presidential policy.

You simply don't understand. Everyone knows that in the oval office, there is a large, steel control panel with buttons, levers, dials and switches. The "Set Employment Rate" dial is actually right next to the "Increase/Decrease Abortions" lever.

Sebastian Holsclaw: Normally such a figure would be expressed in abortions per 10,000 pregnancies or some other such number.

Abortions-per-pregnancies would exclude all those who avoided unwanted pregnancy in the first place, making that an even worse metric than real numbers. Abortions per capita seems like a better measure.

Jonas Cord: You simply don't understand. Everyone knows that in the oval office, there is a large, steel control panel with buttons, levers, dials and switches. The "Set Employment Rate" dial is actually right next to the "Increase/Decrease Abortions" lever.

Yeah, "A Reformer with Results" was so last election. Bush's theme for this election is "Stay the Course".

This statistical massaging takes no account of the fact that in 1990 when the decline began, the cohort of young women (who are those mostly likely to have abortions), would be those from the late 1960's and early 1970's - aka the baby bust. Fewer women equals fewer abortions.

On the other hand, the women most likely to have abortions now would be the echo boomers born in the late 70's and early 80's - a larger cohort of women, and thus a larger number of abortions.

Of course, this doesn't make for a nice political soundbite.

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