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Yet more billboard statistics

February 26, 2010

Now that the “1 in 2 black babies are aborted” meme is picking up speed among elected representatives, I might as well point out that it is wrong. The phrase should be “For black women, 2 out of 5 pregnancies end in an abortion.”

I think this erroneous statistic started with, whose front page displays the following:

The purpose of this web site is to expose the disproportionate amount of Black babies destroyed by the abortion industry. For every two African American women that get pregnant one will choose to abort.
A Black baby is 5 times more likely to be killed in the womb than a White Baby.

That “one out of two AA women that get pregnant will chose to abort” morphed into “1 in 2 black babies are aborted.” But, for black women in 2004, the abortion ratio was 42.0, i.e there were only 2 abortions for every 5 black women who became pregnant and then either gave birth or received an abortion.

The abortion ratio for non-Hispanic whites was 15.4.

42.0/15.4 = 2.7.

So a black woman’s pregnancy is only 2.7 times as likely to end in abortion as a white woman’s pregnancy.

So are the people who run dishonest? They may just be sloppy, because I am pretty sure I know where they got “1 in 2” and “5 times more likely.” They mistook the abortion rate (the number of abortions per 1,000 black women aged 15-44) for the abortion ratio (the number of abortions per 100 pregnancies that end in a live birth or abortion).

The black abortion rate was 49.7 (which is where they get their “1 in 2” – but a rate is not a percent!). The white abortion rate was 10.5.

49.7/10.5 = 4.7     which is where they get their “5 times more likely” claim.

Would showing “2 out of 5” and “2.7 times more likely” to the people make them change their tune? Definitely not. But does this tell us something about


All statistics reported in this post come from page S16 of Trends in the Characteristics of Women Obtaining Abortions, 1974 – 2004 by Stanley K. Henshaw and Kathryn Kost.


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