I recently saw this headline claiming that abortion rates increased after Texas defunded the abortion provider Planned Parenthood in 2011. After claiming that the new policy resulted in the closure of some “women’s health clinics,” The Huffington Post article stated, “the abortion rate among teenagers in the state rose 3 percent over what it would have been had the clinics remained open.”
That sentence set off alarm bells in my head. Note what it didn’t say; that the abortion rate actually increased. The “would have been” language is usually code talk for statistical gymnastics in order to justify a position or theory that can’t be proven by the facts.
That is certainly the case here. In this research, the obvious point being made by the researcher is that by cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, Texas conservatives actually achieved the opposite results they intended: an increase in teen abortions. That would be news; except it isn’t true. Though that didn’t stop the HuffPost’s headline writer from writing that is was.