Dana Milbank’s Flawed “Roe Week” Hit Piece

Lindsay Beyerstein

Dana Milbank tries to discredit a new report commissioned by New York abortion provider Merle Hoffman and presented at a press conference during the annual pro-choice lobbying week on Capitol Hill.

The report (.pdf) makes the uncontroversial claim that abortion rates tend to rise during bad economic times.

Milbank scoffs:

There was just one problem with this hysteria: The data in the study she presented were from 2008 — before the impact of the recession was felt. The sweeping conclusions came, rather, from journalistic reports,” as well as seminal studies” (no pun intended, apparently) at Hoffman’s own clinic in New York — where, as she eventually admitted, abortion rates were relatively stable” the last two years.

The meltdown economists call the Great Recession began in December of 2007. As this chart shows, the national unemployment rate skyrocketed during 2008.

As you can see, the unemployment rate is even higher today than it was then, though joblessness has declined slightly from its peak in late 2009. This, coupled with data on abortion rates during previous recessions, suggests that today’s bad economy is keeping abortion rates higher than they otherwise would be. The report also cites more recent anecdotal evidence that many women are choosing to abort for economic reasons.

All this bolsters Hoffman’s argument that pro-choicers should be vigilant about defending reproductive rights at a time when demand remains high and state legislatures are spewing out abortion restrictions at an unprecedented rate.

Hoffman 1; Milbank 0.

Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times’ City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (http://​www​.hill​man​foun​da​tion​.org/​h​i​l​l​m​a​nblog), a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.
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