800,000, 63 million ... what’s the difference?
Time to Log Off is a weekly series documenting the many ways our political figures show their whole asses online.
The right-wing jubilation over the Supreme Court’s looming decision to nullify Roe v. Wade — and their unsubtle feints at their next project of eroding the rights of marginalized people even further — is deeply horrifying, unfunny stuff. There’s nothing to laugh at when millions of people face the prospect of losing their bodily autonomy sometime in the coming months. It’s a cataclysm and a tragedy and will go down as one of the most horrific moments in American history.
There is, on the other hand, something perversely amusing about just how badly certain figures in the conservative media ecosystem have screwed the pooch on their own grotesque victory laps. And when I say certain figures, I mean Fox News’s “Judge Jeanine” Pirro — the network’s legal gadfly and failed reality show hostess.
Here’s Pirro, who went from being an ostensibly pro-reproductive health advocate to calling third-trimester abortions “the legalization of infanticide,” running interference for the Supreme Court in the wake of the leaked Roe ruling this week.
Now, there’s something to be said for Pirro’s screw up — not because it’s ridiculously incorrect, but because if she’d committed even a single sputtering neuron to thinking about the words cascading from her head, she would have known immediately how dumb her stats were. Sixty-three million people a year? Ma’am, do you honestly think one-fifth of the entire country is getting pregnant and then having an abortion every single year? As The Washington Post’s Philip Bump calculated, those stats get even more ridiculous the more realistically you drill down into them:
[O]f course, not every woman is able to become pregnant. Looking solely at the age range of 15 to 49, we see that it included about 74.6 million women that year. Per Pirro, the equivalent of 84% of them become pregnant and have an abortion each year.
As it so happens, abortion rates have been steadily declining lately, thanks to upticks in contraceptive use, broader health insurance coverage, and fewer teens having sex in general. All told, the Guttmacher Institute calculates the average number of terminated pregnancies is somewhere in the 800,000-900,000 range.
So not only was Pirro wrong. She was spectacularly, hilariously wrong. So wrong, in fact, that I have no choice but to recommend she log off — off the air, and off whatever website she used to get those “stats that I heard” — and spend a little more time learning how to do basic math and reasoning instead.