Saturday, August 07, 2010

Two Stats to Horrify

Two statistics I discovered or was told this week...

1. One in three women under the age of thirty have had an abortion. Someone please tell me this isn't true.

2. Ten per cent of people aged between 18 and 29 admit to driving a car while under the influence of illegal drugs.


Mirtha Tidville said...

Alarming I`m sure but not as frightening as the defence cuts the `Boy George` seems to be planning eh!!!...

Joe Public said...

Neither statements are true:

They're 1 in 2.95 & 11%

Weygand said...

The abortion figure cannot be true in any normal understanding of the situation see official Dept of Health stats for 2009

If about 190,000 women of all ages have abortions in the UK each year (and it is specified that one third of these are women who have already had at least one abortion) then at a net 125,000 'new' women pa the figures do not add up whether for women under 30 or women full stop.

Mr Eugenides said...

Over 1 in 3 of 45 year-old women - so, not quite.

Wallenstein said...

All the stats re. abortion here (2008 figures):

Page 14 has the rate by age tables.

The rate for 19 y/old women is highest at 36 per 1000 (3.6%), but you'll need to add the overall figures to get the full rate for under-30s.

Page With A View said...

Not a surprise. Many teenagers and young women see abortion as just another form of birth control,like the morning after pill.

The quaint idea of family 'planning' is long gone - planning doesn't fit in with the modern culture of instant gratification - good sex, rather than relationships.

And a lot more than 10% of younger people use drugs so of course they drive whilst high as a kite too.

Both stats illustrate a lack of personal responsibility. Because they don't know any different, schools and parents gave up on teaching them years ago.

Tapestry said...

It isn't true. Some of them have had two or more abortions.

Dick the Prick said...

Can't believe the first one but the 2nd one seems a bit under, frankly. Glasgow University have a major drug research centre and their methodology suggests that drug use is significantly greater than any statistics available to public services as, err, most drug users neither seek treatment or consider their usage problematic.

But, yeah, the abortion stat has got to be bollox, surely?!?! (Although, presumably, there should be data available to corroborate - crickey!)

Leia Organa said...

One in three women under the age of thirty have had an abortion. Someone please tell me this isn't true.

I have no idea, but why would it matter if it was?

Macheath said...

There's something familiar about no.1; a couple of years ago, reports were circulating that 1 in 3 men aged 18-25 has a criminal conviction.

This seems to have been arrived at by dividing the total number of convictions by the number in the age range and taking no account of repeat offenders.

As for no.2 - anything that goes by the subjects' own admission should be taken with a substantial pinch of salt.

Big Blinding Blogger said...

@theblinder on twitter

1: I also hope your facts are wrong about abortions.

2: I reckon as a Taxi Driver the 10% is hugely underestimated and is more like 45% sadly.

3: 7 out of 10 drivers that are on the road after dark have been dazzled by the new bi-xenon headlights. That in my opinion is dangerous.

big blinding blogger

at blindinglights etc

Anonymous said...

Iain, until you tell the source of your 'stats', they AREN'T statistics, they are just saloon-bar rumour and gossip that you heard last night from a mate over a pint.

I think you should quote where you heard this, even before you use words like 'horrify'.

Does the abortion figure include *every* woman in that age group, or just the ones in a particular category? And what about the drugs? What sort of drugs?

I love listening to Radio 4's 'More or Less' programme, which picks apart and analyses these sorts of statistics.

The trouble is, too much policy is made on the hoof and in response to such scare stories.

Sean said...

If I were you, I'd trace the source and see if it's credible before blogging it.

Osama the Nazarene said...

I drove a car after 6 pints, 40 years ago.

Experience haunts me to this day. Never out of 1st gear, sitting very upright leaning over the steering wheel.

Mikey said...

I'm pretty sure the first is incorrect, it doesn't take into account women who have more than 1 abortion. (A report last year found one women who had got into double figures).
The one in 3 is based on total number of abortions for under 30's divided by women under 30

AndrewSouthLondon said...

Check the small print first, if there is any
I worked with Health Statistics for some time and I know abortion figures always need qualifying.

Its the case that many girls from other coutries, Catholic ones in particular (like Ireland) would come to the UK for an abortion, inflating the figures unless you adjust for overaes residents. Also many abortions are done in the Private and Charitable sector,favoured by middle class parents, and not the NHS - which is often the source of figures for only NHS-funded abortion.

Then there are the "our men won't use condoms for cultural reasons" bunch who have multiple abortions. You can probably guess which culture.

Unknown said...

Iain... grammar... "One in three women under the age of thirty HAS had an abortion..."

It may well be true. Would you rather they were all single mothers?

JMB said...

There is an item in The Times archive about it from earlier in the year.

It says this

"The one in three statistic cited by Marie Stopes comes from a Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists paper, which in turn cites a pamphlet written more than 15 years ago by the Birth Control Trust, an organisation that soon after folded and left no trace of the pamphlet."

Then waffles around without actually saying whether it believes the figure is true.

Good one for the next weries of Radio 4's More or Less perhaps?

I am always suspicious of any statistic like that which is a nice round figure rather like the dodgy 1 in 3 car accidents caused by speeding figure trotted out by the plod frequently.

Danny Law said...

According to the Dept of Health 'abortion is the sign of how civilized we are as a society'

Im sure all the dead foetuses would agree

Brian said...

Iain, as men we're fortunate that we wouldn't ever be in the position where we had to decide whether or not to have an abortion, but it is legal even if it may offend your (and in most circumstances, my) moral code. How would you feel if another blogger wrote that they were horrified that 5% or whatever of the population are homosexual?

Anonymous said...

Dear Ian

I am moved to say

1) Why have you conjoined the two shock horrors?

2) What right do you have to be question (by Red Top type "shock and horror") the right of women to exercise control over their bodies; don't you do that over yours?

3) What is your measure upon which you base your opinion?


Iain Dale said...


1. They were two stats mentioned on my LBC show this week.

2. I gave a statistic. End of.

Iain Dale said...

Galli, if you aren't horrified by that statistic I feel truly sorry for you.

Woman on a Raft said...

If you got the stat from Nadine, you should know better by now.

Iain Dale said...

I didn't.

lilith said...

If one in three women has had an abortion that must mean that hardly any men are using condoms.

Brian said...

Iain, many thanks for your concern, but it is possible to accept the law and public policy but diasapprove of an activity if it offends one's personal ethics. It's the old render unto Caesar thing.

Unknown said...


Surely more horrifying is the level of inequity re: abortions.

My former partner aborted a child, my child, without any indication until immediately after the event. We had talked about the baby, begun planning {financially and logistically} and I was {although at only initial stages} an expectant father.

My rights were, effectively, reduced to the level of a sperm donor until such time as a child may have been born, at which time my rights would have been either by agreement or a level set by the court. And those rights would have come with a requirement I contribute to the child's upkeep, despite being able to have no influence over the presence, or otherwise, of that child on this earth after my initial "donation".

Anonymous said...

Dear Mirtha Tidville --

The reason we need defence cuts is that Labour have left us with a deficit of £155 billion and a national debt rising to £1.4 trillion over the next few years. Clearly thats not alarming enough for you

So rather than spew out snide ignorant gratuitous comments, why not put blame where it belongs??

Oh and re defence in particular I read that labour have left us with a host of procurement contracts but a small matter of £79 billion shortfall in funding. That's a £79 billion black hole in defence alone.

Goodwin said...

In many countries abortion is a socially acceptable form of contraception so why not here? Given the number of chav-benefits-scum being bred in this country, I personally wish the rate was much higher. PS Who are you to preach on a subject which as a gay man you cannot possibly know anything about or understand.

DiscoveredJoys said...

And yet, strangely, the world hasn't come to an end.

The statistics may be surprising, but they are only horrifying if they have dire consequences for other people. Do they?

And before anyone criticises me, I too deplore the number of abortions and people driving while under the influence. I just that huffing and puffing about such things achieves nothing.

ms_tor said...

Why are you horrified about the abortion statistic? Accidents happen - no method of contraception is 100% effective - but would you prefer that young women bring children into the world without the means or support to raise them properly?
Additionally, the statistic has no context. Why did these women choose to have abortions? It could have been for medical reasons or the pregnancy could have been a product of sexual abuse. And yet you judge without knowing or, seemingly, caring.

Patrick said...

its a fairly simple and quick procedure... isnt it?

Unsworth said...

@ Osama the Nazarene

Must've been you causing all that Ag yesterday on the M25 clockwise between junctions 8 and 9. THREE HOUR delays at one stage.

Good thing I was travelling in the opposite direction - I'd probably have murdered someone.

Little Black Sambo said...

Anji says of the abortion statistic, I have no idea, but why would it matter if it was?
Well, if you have to ask, any attempt at an explanation would be a waste of effort.

Unknown said...

thing about it is... (Little Black Sambo) that if you're a bloke, you have no say. It's not your body. End of.

Anonymous said...

Strangely the world has not come to an end??

You must live in a different world to me.

Unknown said...

Patrick - simple and pleasant are entirely different things. It is horrifying to think of or experience {feel free to google how it's done and how the foetus is actually aborted}

Unknown said...

Well I can share a personal story as this is all anonymous. About 4 years ago when I was 18 my girlfriend forgot to take her pill for one day, the pill pack on the back said if you forget one day then just take 2 the next day and you don't require extra backup contraception. So we carried on as normal and wouldn't you know she missed her period, we went straight to the pharmacy and got two or three pregnancy tests. She was pregnant, at 17.

Horrifying stuff, I didn't know what to do and neither did she. We talked about it and decided that we were barely able to look after ourselves let alone a baby. We decided that bringing up a child outside of a stable relationship where neither parent is responsible enough to look after a child was a bad idea. So we went to the clinic and talked to the doctor and told them our problems and he agreed and gave her a pill called Mifegyne. It was almost like emergency contraception according to her, and a week later she took a pregnancy test to be 100% and it came out negative.

If it happened again (it won't she has an implant now!) I think the decision would be much harder as we both have well paying jobs, are looking to buy a house soon and get married eventually. I think the decision would go the other way. I don't regret the decision and she doesn't either, our lives would have been very different for both of us and we would not be in the same position as we are now, ready to settle down and raise a family properly. Chances are we would have quit university to take low paying jobs and gone to the local housing assoc. for somewhere to live. I wouldn't want to bring up a kid in those circumstances, I want my kids to have the opportunities I had, not to grow up on a housing estate to teenage parents.

Anonymous said...

1 in 3 women under the age of 30?
Does that include women who are 15? 13? 12? 5? 2?

The stat doesn't ring true to me at all.

Rich Johnston said...

How many under the influence of legal drugs?

Unknown said...

@Macha Macguire:

"thing about it is... (Little Black Sambo) that if you're a bloke, you have no say. It's not your body. End of."

It is his child, just as much as it is the mother's. I bet you'd jump up and down screaming if the mother's wishes were not considered in relation to her child.

happiness said...

Neither statistic horrifies me.

Anonymous said...

At least one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage.

Shock, horror!

We should be handing out condoms and birth control pills to anyone remotely fertile to end this terror


Maybe not.

Anonymous said...

To be serious for a moment, and to mention some of the times I was at risk of pregnancy (I apologise for unpleasant information):

* The times I've had diarrhea;
* The times I've vomited shortly after taking my pill;
* The times I've gone travelling, forgot my pills behind, was unable to get more because they are strictly prescription (I had to get emergency contraception -not as effective);
* The time I was prescribed an antibiotic that -I found out later- reduces pill effectiveness.
* The time I was prescribed an antibiotic that can actually cause birth defects;
* The time there was a mishap with a condom (my pre-pill days)
* The times I've forgotten to take the pill because, when you are taking it every day for years, even decades, it happens.

I've been very diligent about contraception. I am intelligent and have access to information. Yet any one of those times, I could have ended up pregnant. So unless they are handing out Plan B on street corners, I would not be that shocked to find out that many women, at some time in their lives, find themselves pregnant when they don't want to be.

You will not face this situation, nor will any partner of yours. There are many in this country that would judge you harshly, who do not understand the situation you may be in. Why are you so judgemental yourself?

Many of the people you berate have taken personal responsibility for their mistake/misfortune and not left it to "society" to sort it out. Is personal responsibility not part of your ethic?

David Cotton said...

The following is about the abortion 'statistic'. NB: I am a male.

Firstly, as others have pointed out, the statistic seems odd, and it is hard to come to conclusions without further information. Please, oh please, provide links so that people can *see* the data. Iain, your blog is usually very good, but you have a large, intelligent readership, and have a responsibility to provide information to back up your opinion. Rant as you like, but try and make the ranting based on fact and not what someone has told you. Give your opinion, but let your readers make up their own minds based on firm information.

Secondly, it is not horrifying. Unfortunate and regrettable, yes. Horrifying, no.

Thirdly, we are all human. Mistakes happen, and it comes down to what is the best thing for a woman to do in her individual circumstances. It is only 'horrifying' if abortion becomes a lifestyle choice that is used rather than contraception - and I doubt that happens much.

Fourthly, some more meaningful metrics may be:
*) Percentage of women having abortions in various age groups (e.g. <16, 16-21, 22-30,>30 etc)
*) Number of women who have had 1,2,3,4 or more abortions.
*) Time at which abortions are performed (e.g. 1-10 weeks, 11-20, 20-24 weeks)

Fifthly, think about what this means. At 30, a woman has been legally able to have sex for fourteen years. This means that you are criticising them for what could be one mistake (forgetting to take a pill or to ask their partner to use a condom); bad luck (condoms and the pill are not 100% effective); bad judgement (poor choice in partner); illness; change in circumstances (e.g. losing job), or any number of other reasons. That has to happen once in a woman's most fertile fourteen years, at a time when they do not want a child.

Sixthly, consider abortions for medical reasons. Are they horrifying?

Seventh, some women are raped and fall pregnant. Should they not have the right to have an abortion within the time limits prescribed by law? Surely the rape is the horrifying act, and forcing a woman to have a child she did not want would be a travesty. Yet such cases will all be contained within the statistic you are 'horrified' by.

Eighth, the only sure alternative for a woman who does not want a child is abstinence. I quite like the theory of abstinence; I always have. Unfortunately it is exceptionally hard to maintain in practice for many people, especially when you are in a loving relationship. There are many couples who find sex to be a wonderful and comforting experience, but for whom the time is not yet right to have children.

Ninth, several women have confided in me that they have had abortions (one in each case). None regretted it, but none enjoyed the fact that they had had one. Their reasons were understandable, and in each case the decision had been well thought through. Much better thought through than your original post, as it happens.

Finally, you are gay. I do not know if you have ever had a girlfriend, or if you realised that you were gay later on (I recall that you once wrote that you only came out in your thirties). Getting a woman pregnant is therefore something you do not have to worry about very much. For many people it is; they do the right things and pregnancies still occur. Practising safe sex can be hard enough with two consenting, intelligent adults (as someone ably commented above). Often an abortion, although regrettable, is better than the alternative of having an unwanted child.

The abortion debate is complex and understandably evokes high emotions. Therefore it is something that should be approached with a great deal more tact and compassion than either the original post or some of the comments here.

................................. said...

How many people your age have driven whilst pissed out of their heads, Iain?

You're not quite of the "ooh the youth of today" generation yet, surely...