Published in the U Matuna, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Agana, Guam, 3/10/13.
The number of abortions on Guam were down slightly in 2012 - from 295 in 2011 to 275 last year. There are no changes in trends: most abortions occur during the first trimester, young adults ages 18-22 have the most abortions, and Chamorros account for the largest share (62%) of abortions. But what do these numbers mean and how can we bring them down?
Some advocate for better education of our youth. But the youth, ages 13-17, account for only 2% of abortions. Some call for greater access to contraception. But contraception is more readily available than ever before. Others would like to see more opportunities for adoption. But there is already a waiting list at CPS of hopeful parents waiting to adopt. Some say we need to improve the economy, but in general, wealthier economies have higher abortion rates.
So, what to do? First, we must put everything on the table. For several years now, our abortion reports have defied the myths that abortions on Guam are either procured by teens or outsiders. They are not. As mentioned, teens account for only 2% of abortions, and “locals” account for more abortions than all other ethnicities combined.
As Catholics, we must further admit that since 85% of “locals” identify themselves as Catholic, abortion is a Catholic problem. Also, for a culture that still largely prides itself as family-oriented and one which has traditionally cared for the children of relatives who were unable to care for their own, we must ask why the number of Chamorro children aborted by their mothers continues to escalate even while the percentage of the Chamorro population on Guam continues to decline.
In short, we must get rid of our myths before we can proceed. I personally tire of hearing “but they’re Catholic” when one learns of a certain lawmaker’s obstruction of pro-life legislation, or the now tired and transparent mantra about the culture being “family-oriented” given the staggering incidence of family violence we are constantly confronted with. Even more wearisome is the talk about the need to reach our teens when it’s the adults who account for 98% of abortions.
Our first reaction is usually “we have to talk about this more.” But as Catholics, we already talk about it “more”: no organization has defined doctrine condemning abortion as clear as ours, no group organizes more public protests, and no group is as active in the charitable ministries which address the social issues thought to be the causes of abortion. Yet our abortion numbers rise, and Catholics throughout the U.S., not just Guam, increasingly accept abortion even while the rest of the nation is heading in the other direction.
Some think that the number of abortions procured by Catholics is high because of the the Church’s teaching against the use of contraception. However, access to contraception has not only NOT slowed the abortion rate, it can be easily proved that contraception’s failure rate has contributed to increased abortions. According to the FDA, condom use, the most common form of contraception, will result in pregnancy 18% of the time, and oral contraceptives, 9% of the time. And of course - thinking “I’m protected” - contraceptive use leads to more frequent sexual activity which increases the number of contraceptive failures leading to more abortions.
It is difficult to battle the rate of abortion when one of its main causes (contraceptive use) is seen as the solution. But telling the truth about contraception’s failure and battling government initiatives to further inject it as a social solution is critical to any effort to decrease abortion.
However, I hold little hope for this. Contraception is a “sacred cow”. Our culture desires sex without consequences - and contraception, despite its glaring failure rate and the monstrous spread of disease, proposes to hold the magic key.
Of course, in the end, women are the losers. Contraception liberates men not women. It’s the woman who end up with a “problem pregnancy” and in the abortion clinic when contraception fails. And in many cases she is drug there by the man who impregnated her.
The Elliot Institute documents that nearly 64% of abortions are coerced. And when the woman is unwilling, she is often beaten or killed: homicide is the leading killer of pregnant women. Also, coerced abortions may account for why the post-abortive woman is six times more likely to commit suicide.
Yet, often the most ardent advocates of increased legal protections for women are also the most ardent advocates of increased access to contraception and abortion. Contraception enables bad men to more easily use and discard women. And when contraception fails, abortion allows men to destroy the evidence. How fortunate for them that so many women believe these both to be “rights”.
The 2012 Guam Abortion Report can be accessed at www.esperansa.org.