The ProLife Team Podcast | Episode 54 with Tessa Longbons | Talking About Abortion Data

The ProLife Team Podcast
The ProLife Team Podcast | Episode 54 with Tessa Longbons | Talking About Abortion Data
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Listen to Tessa Longbons and Jacob Barr talk about data surrounding abortion the spell out the story of how pregnancy clinics are making a huge impact for life.  Also hear how this data is breaking down false beliefs that are promoted by Planned Parenthood.

Summary

This is Jacob Barr, and on the Pro-Life Team Podcast, I had an enlightening conversation with Tessa Longbonds, a senior research associate at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. We delved into the significant role of data in understanding and addressing abortion trends in the United States, particularly in light of the increasing prevalence of chemical abortions.

Tessa highlighted the challenges in gathering comprehensive abortion data due to varying state-level reporting practices. She pointed out that while abortion rates have declined since the 1980s and 1990s, there’s been a recent uptick due to the rise of chemical abortions. The pandemic and changing FDA regulations, especially regarding the distribution of abortion pills through the mail, have contributed to this increase.

A concerning trend noted was the miscoding of chemical abortion complications as miscarriages in medical records. This miscoding potentially affects the quality of care women receive post-abortion and highlights the risks associated with chemical abortions.

We also discussed the impact of state laws on abortion trends. While some women travel to pro-abortion states, laws restricting abortion significantly contribute to decreasing abortion rates. This shift underscores the crucial role of pregnancy centers in providing alternative support to women.

Tessa emphasized that abortion is not a ‘normal’ part of women’s reproductive lives, contrary to what the abortion industry suggests. Our conversation touched on Planned Parenthood’s role in the abortion industry, debunking the myth that abortion constitutes only a small fraction of their services.

Lastly, Tessa and I discussed the valuable impact of pregnancy centers across the country. These centers have saved hundreds of thousands of lives and are likely to have an even greater impact following the recent pro-life legal changes.

The data-driven insights provided by Tessa Longbonds shed light on the current state of abortion in the U.S. and the critical role of informed research in guiding pro-life efforts.

#Hashtags:
#ProLifePodcast, #AbortionDataInsights, #ChemicalAbortionRisks, #PregnancyCentersImpact, #StateAbortionLaws, #LifeSavingAlternatives, #PlannedParenthoodDebunked, #ReproductiveHealthResearch, #DataDrivenProLifeMovement, #UnderstandingAbortionTrends.

Transcript

The transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors.

Jacob Barr :

Welcome to the pro-life Team Podcast i’m Jacob Barr i’m here with Tessa Longbonds, and we’re going to be talking about data about abortion in our country and in the in our States and how the data is showing that Prezi clinics are making a huge difference for life, as well as how this data is breaking down false beliefs promoted by Planned Parenthood. Well, welcome Tessa i am so excited to talk to you and to meet you and to sort of hear, Yeah, I hear you’re pro-life about your pro-life research and how you’re connected with the pro-life world. So I was wondering, would you introduce yourself as if you were talking to a small group of pregnancy clinic executive directors and leadership teams?

Tessa Longbons :

Sure well, thank you so much for having me on the podcast, Jacob i’m really excited to be here and to talk to your listeners. And I’m Tessa Longbonds i’m a senior research associate here at the Charlotte Loser Institute, and we are the research and education arm of Susan B Anthony pro-life America. So our motto is science and statistics for Life and we try to just do just that we have a network of associate scholars that are experts in everything from medicine to science to law, and they help us direct our research and we cover topics like the impact of abortion on women, the increase in chemical abortion across the United States, what the science says about life. And in my own particular role, I get to help a lot of our scholars with their research. And I really enjoy getting to learn from some of the leaders in all of these different fields about what they’re working on and what they’re learning. So yeah, there’s a lot of information, a lot of information to support the fact that science is pro-life and it’s a really good group of people to work with.

Jacob Barr :

Awesome yeah, there’s a lot there so when it comes to the data, the trends and that science, yeah, science is pro-life or it supports the truth. And so that’s really cool. Where would you like to start out of all the areas of your expertise and research and these ideas? What would you like to talk about first?

Tessa Longbons :

Well, there’s a lot to cover. Like you said, there’s just a lot of research and at CLI we focus on many different things. But one of the things that I one of my projects and I think this may have already been touched on by one of your previous guests, Doctor Harrison who is an OBGYN who works frequently with us and we’ve really benefited from a lot of her knowledge and research but the increase in chemical abortion across the United States so if you want, we could spend some time just talking about some of the latest abortion trends and what we’re seeing and how the Dobbs decision might impact things going forward.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah well, so, yeah, so tell us so when it comes to the abortion trends, we’re how it where would you say that we’re at today and how will we’ve got how what’s the data look like to where we are and where do you think we’re going.

Tessa Longbons :

Yes so well, the 1st to answer your question. First, we have to look at the quality of data that we have and unfortunately in the United States, our data isn’t very good. It’s collected at the state level and states determine what and if they will collect any abortion data. And then states will share some of their aggregate statistics with the CDC to be included in annual reports. But some states, California, maryland New Hampshire, don’t collect any data at all. And then other states are incomplete in their data collection, don’t require abortion providers to report important information such as the age or the race of the woman who’s getting the abortion, the type of abortion, things like that. And so our data is incomplete, which makes it difficult to really see exactly what’s going on in the United States. But from the states that do report, we do know that the good news is that abortion rates have dropped from their height in the nineteen eighties and nineteen. Nineties but that unfortunately, thanks to chemical abortion and how increasingly prevalent it is in the US, abortion rates have started to tick back up over the past few years. And that’s definitely caused by many different things. Certainly the plant, the pandemic played a huge role, but just this increase in chemical abortion driving up abortion rates overall and that’s something that is going to increase these two issues, both chemical abortion and the poor data in the next few years since in 2020 and 2021 we had the FDA rolling back long standing regulations on chemical abortion that said that it had to be dispensed in person, could not be dispensed via telemedicine, could not be sent through the mail. And now that the FDA has pulled back those regulations, there has been this entire network of online abortion pill providers that have sprung up to make these drugs available through the mail and so there’s certainly been an increase in focus on this in the wake of the Dobbs decision and it’s going to be just an increasing, increasingly prevalent method of abortion going forward but we know that these that these websites are active in about half the state’s growing number of States and are just increasingly mailing pills this way. And so that’s going to make it even more difficult to see what’s going on and also continue to drive up the number of chemical abortions.

Jacob Barr :

Are any of the states that what might be marked as like pro abortion? What are any of them included in the in the states that are actually providing a large amount or a good amount of data? Or are all of the pro abortion states falling into the camp of not collecting data or not much data?

Tessa Longbons :

That’s a good question so certainly some of what we might think of as the more pro abortion states do a good job collecting data. They have requirements in place that abortion providers have to report data to the state on every abortion that they perform, just like they might report other vital statistics information like births, deaths, things like that. But then other states do a much poorer job. For I mentioned California doesn’t collect any abortion data at all, which is concerning because California, such a large state, has one of the highest abortion volumes of any state across the country. Maryland, New Hampshire also fall into that category. And together these states make up about a fifth of all abortions and they are all late term abortion states, California and Maryland in particular. So it is kind of concerning that we don’t have data from these States. And this is something that CDC, the Guttmacher Institute, which is pro-choice research organization Olive, acknowledged that accurate abortion data is important for research, for public health, for tracking things like unintended pregnancy and determining whether contraceptive programs are being effective so everyone agrees that it’s important to have high quality, reliable abortion data. And so the fact that we don’t have this data that states aren’t required to report and that many states have chosen not to do so or have chosen not to enforce their reporting requirements or make sure that they’re collecting all the information that’s important to have means that our picture of what’s going on is incomplete. But then certainly want to give credit to the states that are doing their best to do a good job to collect the data to make sure that it is accurate. And many of those are pro-life states but then there are some pro some pro-choice states too, like states like Minnesota does a really good job of collecting reliable data and making sure that they’re collecting a good breadth of information. And so I want to give credit to all of the states that are that are working hard to make sure that we do have good data to work with.

Jacob Barr :

Interesting. Yeah so in the back of my mind, I’m wondering, you know, is there any likelihood of California tracking this kind of data better in the future or starting to track some of these numbers at all in the future and what would be the process for that to take place is that a state, you know, a state senator, you know pushing that through with a bill or is that more of a health group bringing that to the state i’m wondering like what would who would be the agent of change for a state that’s not collecting data to start collecting that kind of data?

Tessa Longbons :

I think it can come from multiple avenues. Certainly, like you said, the state would need to put those requirements in place legislatively. But then also to have groups within the state encouraging the state to make it a priority for the Department of Health in California, to make it a priority and to really make sure that everyone understands that this is important data that needs to be collected is all important. But one thing out of California that we do have is California is one of 16 states to use its own state tax dollars to fund abortions for Medicaid eligible women. And so at the federal level, the federal government does not fund most abortions through Medicaid due to the Hyde Amendment. But other states can choose to use their own tax dollars to cover elective abortion that would otherwise not be covered by Medicaid and California is one of the states that does. And so through Medicaid, through CMS data, we can see some of what’s happening in California and other states that pay for abortion. And so that’s been something that we’ve been focusing on at the Charlotte Closure Institute is looking to see what Medicaid data can tell us about abortion. Because since our abortion data overall is incomplete or missing information from states like California and other states that don’t report, looking at the Medicaid data can give us a really good case level view of what’s happening. And so that’s one good source of data that we can use and that we’ve actually been publishing a lot of papers out of since it’s the best source of abortion data that we have in the US.

Jacob Barr :

So what does Medicaid get involved with an abortion is that when if Medicaid is funding the abortion or how would how would those numbers show up?

Tessa Longbons :

Yes so these are all claims data. When the provider performs whatever service they’re getting reimbursed for from Medicaid, it gets reported to CMS. And CMS makes this data available to researchers who are studying public health, studying, studying really anything related to Medicaid in the United States. And so all of the claims data for all the Medicaid Services are in this data set, not just abortion but because we don’t have a lot of abortion data from other sources, we decided to look and see what it could tell us about abortion and its impact on women and their health and their overall reproductive lives. And so just looking at this data, we can see all of these abortions that have been billed to the state and then reported to CMS along with all of the other healthcare that women have received through Medicaid. So it’s a really rich data set of all of these services that women have been receiving just their interactions with the healthcare system and can help us really get a good look at what’s going on. We had mentioned chemical abortion earlier. That’s a recent study that we did looking at women’s follow up care after chemical abortion. Specifically, we had wanted to see if a woman has a chemical abortion, if she has a surgical abortion, how many of these women end up in the emergency room within a month following their abortions? And that’s something that the Medicaid data is really helpful in showing us because it does have all of these interactions with the healthcare system in there so we could start with what we knew was an abortion that had taken place because it had been billed to the state. And then we could follow 30 days to see whether the women, the woman had gone to the emergency room for any follow up care or for another reason and allowed us to see how many of these abortions were resulting in emergency room visits so definitely a really valuable source of data.

Jacob Barr :

Ok. So when it comes to the type of data that’s being collected by the Medicaid, what sort of stories have you been able to extrapolate or what kind of numbers are being collected through this claims data through Medicaid?

Tessa Longbons :

So we’ve looked at millions of records, millions of pregnancies in this latest study that I mentioned looking at emergency room visits. We started with over 400,000 thousand abortions and followed them to over a hundred thousand emergency room visits within 30 days. And one of the interesting things that we found was that the rate of chemical abortion related emergency room visits increased rapidly over the period of the study which was 2002 to 2015 and increased by 500 % so enormous increase in the rate of women going to the for some abortion related reason following their chemical abortion. And we also found that especially by the end of the study by 2015 a huge a large majority of these abortion related visits were actually being miscoded as miscarriages it was 60 % of abortion related visits by 2015 And so that meant that means that women had an abortion, went to the emergency room and their abortion complications were misreported as a miscarriage. And that’s actually something that we have seen some abortion advocates encouraging women to do, telling them that if you take the abortion pill and you have a complication and you go to the emergency room, you don’t have to tell your doctor what’s going on you can just say that you had a miscarriage, which is concerning because no one should ever be encouraged to lie to their doctor or to mislead their doctor. So we don’t know the reason for this miscoding it could have been multiple factors it could have been women not sharing that they had an abortion. Emergency room personnel not accurately diagnosing them could have been problems with the coding. But we did a follow up study to that to see is this impacting the care that women are receiving? And we found that if a woman had a chemical abortion and then went to the emergency room within 30 days and was then admitted to the hospital, the women whose abortions have been miscoded as miscarriages were much more likely need to need follow up surgical treatment to complete the abortion and much more likely to require multiple hospital visits to solve their problem compared to women whose chemical abortions had not been miscoded. So definitely concerning that this miscoding might be impacting the sort of care that women receive and that women are being told that it doesn’t matter if you share accurate information with your doctor, when in reality that’s not the case your doctor does need to know what sort of medical history you have, what sort of problems you’re having so that they can properly treat you. So that’s one of the many valuable things that we can learn from the Medicaid data, just looking at how chemical abortion, surgical abortion are impacting women and the follow up care that they receive their visits to the emergency room. But we’ve used the same data to look at many different aspects of the way that abortion is impacting women from the role that it plays in their reproductive lives, that how their pregnancies are ordered, the different types of pregnancy outcomes that they have, whether it’s something that’s normal for women, which it isn’t. And it really gives us this ability to see how abortion is playing a role in each individual woman’s life, which no other data in the US allows us to do. So really powerful data.

Jacob Barr :

So it seems like the abortion, and I’ve heard this story before, that the abortion clinic tells a woman to visit the if there’s any complications and to tell the staff that they’re experiencing A miscarriage is if that’s the same as having a medical abortion. And it sounds like a policy or just like a common recommendation by the abortion clinic staff member to essentially direct someone to the to sort of like pass the baton of providing health care after they start the abortion in order to let the or the health. Yeah, the health clinic or the. Yeah, probably the hospital essentially take on follow up care without even telling them that it’s a medicated abortion. And even though there may be common ground between a miscarriage and a medical abortion, there’s a lot of differences when it comes to what could be happening. Is this do you think, have you seen this trend across all states that this is like a common trend or do you think it’s somehow part of like their policy or that may be beyond what you would know, But I’m wondering if it feels like that’s like a, yeah, like the like the abortion clinic teams are promoting, promoting, promoting them to go to the with that kind of idea.

Tessa Longbons :

Yes, Well, I think you’re exactly right and especially with this increase in abortion by mail and these websites that are now making these pills available to women through the mail, some of them not even requiring even a video visit, just fill out the online form. And I know that I think Doctor Harrison touched on this to your listeners earlier, but chemical abortion has a much higher complication rate than does surgical abortion. Frequently, women experience incomplete abortions that if left untreated can lead to hemorrhage infection. Just this need for follow up care, frequently to treat complications. And so for a lot of these websites, they might not even be located in the same state as the woman to whom they’ve mailed the pills. So she would have no choice but to go to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic of some type for this for this treatment to complete the abortion, stop the bleeding and give her the care that she needs. And so that’s why we are so concerned to see this rate of emergency room visits increasing, to see just the sheer number of women whose chemical abortions were miscoded as miscarriages. Because the latest year of data that we looked at was for 2015 because that was the most recent available. And that was before the FDA had rolled back these protections on chemical abortion and made it more widely available without even making sure that women were provided with that face to face interaction with the provider who is going to be giving them the abortion pills. So we know that if the rate of emergency room visits was that bad in 2015 it’s only gotten worse since then. And so just really concerning that women would be given bad advice to lie to their doctors and not give them the full picture of what’s going on, since that can put their health at risk. And certainly, I mean, as chemical abortion increases, we never like to see any increase in abortion because every abortion takes the life of an innocent child it takes the life of an innocent human being. But we don’t also don’t want to see women put at risk. And chemical abortion is doing both. It’s endangering women. It’s taking the lives of innocent human beings. And so just really concerning to see this increased happening in the United States and we only looked at the states that use their own tax dollars to pay for abortion because those are the only states that have abortion data included in the CMS data. But we’ve just seen increases in chemical abortion across the country in most states and so expect to see these trends continue sadly.

Jacob Barr :

So if someone’s having the abortion pill mailed from a different country, we’re not going to have that data to even maybe examine those stories or those clients getting pills mailed over maybe from overseas or from Europe.

Tessa Longbons :

Exactly.

Jacob Barr :

Ok.

Tessa Longbons :

Yes. And so I’m sure everyone is well aware of the online abortion pill distributor aid access, which is a European Doctor Who in for many states writes these prescriptions but then there have been so many other websites that have also cropped up to try to make these drugs, to try to create a market for these drugs with American women. And so that’s why we just everyone needs to be on the alert and just make sure that women have the information, the truth about how dangerous these drugs can be and that the risk that they pose to their health. Because it is not as easy or as painless as the abortion is. Industry likes to make it sound and it really can put women at risk.

Jacob Barr :

So in 2020 when the FDA relaxed or removed certain regulations for mailing the abortion pill, was that done at the federal level only, or was it done somewhat at the state level?

Tessa Longbons :

So this was a change that happened at the federal level starting in 2020 when the abortion industry actually sued the FDA because they said that due to the pandemic, it was too dangerous to have women actually come into the physical abortion center to be given the pills and that they should be allowed to mail them instead. And so they went to court to block the FDA’s requirement that these drugs be provided in person. Which these If a woman has an ectopic pregnancy that’s undiagnosed, these drugs will not treat that it can put her at risk for eruptured ectopic pregnancy and hemorrhaging. If she is RH negative, it could put her at risk for problems in future pregnancies if she doesn’t receive treatment for that, if her pregnancy is farther along than she thinks it is and she hasn’t gone to the abortion center to have an ultrasound, to have a physical exam to make sure that she really is early enough in her pregnancy that she can take chemical abortion pills that can put her at a much greater risk of incomplete abortion and complications. And so there are many things that are now endangering Women’s Health because these drugs don’t have to be distributed in person. But yes, it was at the federal level that the abortion industry went to court, sued the FDA to block this regulation, this in person requirement. And then the FDA responded by saying that they were going to temporarily suspend the requirement that the abortion pill would be distributed in person. And then they decided that they would just remove it permanently and so they are in the process of updating the regulations surrounding chemical abortion to no longer require that they be distributed in person. So that is all at the federal level. But some states have now stepped up, stepped into the gap or filling in these protections that the FDA has abandoned and they are putting in their own state level protections. That the abortion pill not be distributed online that it must be given to women in person. That women must be provided with a physical exam to rule out all of these contraindications to chemical abortion. To make sure that they don’t have an ectopic pregnancy or that they’re not too far along in their pregnancy. And to just give them that in person interaction with the provider who’s going to be giving them the abortion pill. Because one of the biggest problems surrounding chemical abortion is what a tool it is for coercion, for forced abortions, for abusers who might be giving it to women even without their knowledge. And that’s something that we saw even before the FDA had rolled back these protections. We had seen women who had been given the pill without their knowledge by a boyfriend or a partner, and they hadn’t wanted the abortion. And that was actually something that was an issue in the United Kingdom when they put similar changes in place to allow abortion by mail during the pandemic. And so just this growing problem of these pills being sent through the mail without knowing who is going to be on the other side of the mailbox is something that is really concerning because we do know that has already been used in forced or coerced abortions. And so that’s why some of the states have stepped up and said no, women need to be provided with that in person interaction with their abortion provider so that they can make sure that they’re not being forced into the abortion or coerced into it. And so that’s where states come into play, and they can put in their own protections even if the FDA doesn’t.

Jacob Barr :

So if a state puts puts in their own protection saying you know a woman must have a physical exam in order to rule out something like ectopic pregnancy and how does that, how does that play when it comes to the mail being filtered or restricted when it comes to some, you know, someone ordering the pill from a from California or from overseas, like how? How are they going about actually enforcing this or is it being enforced, do you know?

Tessa Longbons :

Well, I think that’s something that is still going to be determined state by state since a lot of this still is very new for only a few months post dobs and even these FDA regulations, they haven’t come out with the final version yet. And so I think that’s something that states are still going to be looking at how their laws are worded, how they’re going to be enforced. But certainly we’ve already seen the abortion industry responding to state laws, saying that, for example, in Planned Parenthood in Montana said that they would no longer be prescribing chemical abortion pills to women from states that have put restrictions on abortion because they were careful about making sure they were not violating state laws. We’ve seen that with abortion funding this interplay between the abortion industry, state limits on abortion, state chemical abortion laws and so I think these laws are having an effect and certainly they discourage the US based online abortion pill providers from shipping to these states that have laws limiting chemical abortion. And if you look at for example, Texas, there are, they’re a good example because they had this heartbeat law in effect even before Dobbs and they had chemical abortion restrictions in place. And so they provide a good example of what a state might look like, what the environment might be like in a state going forward. And so as they had their heartbeat law lowering the number of abortions taking place in the state by about half, they also had some women going out of state. And they also had groups like aid access, the international group illegally mailing the pill into the state. But even with all that, we know that these that women going out of state and aid access illegally mailing it to the state because aid access actually published papers reporting on the number of requests that they had received from Texas women that these did not counteract the decrease in abortions due to Texas’s heartbeat law so the law did have an effect in saving lives and aid access does not fill all of the requests that they receive. And not all, not all requests for abortion pills to some of these international companies end up getting filled and not all end up getting filled within the timeline for the woman who wants to receive the pills. And so certainly we know that these groups are mailing pills into pro-life states, pro-choice states across the country they’re going everywhere. But thanks to state laws that are protecting life limiting chemical abortion, they do decrease the number of chemical abortions that are taking place and they do help to keep women safe.

Jacob Barr :

Interesting. So yeah, it seems like it would be relatively simple for a sting operation for someone in a state where, you know, it’s not allowed for abortion pills to be mailed there. For the police or law enforcement or some group like that to order the pills and then see if they’re actually shipped to that state. And that seems like the easiest of all sting operations to, you know, to find out and then that could then lead to a lawsuit against that group if they’re not, you know, legally supposed to be shipping that those. Yeah those pharmaceuticals to that state. Sorry go ahead. Yeah oh, no go ahead what’s your what are your thoughts on that?

Tessa Longbons :

So I was just going to say it’s interesting that you mentioned kind of ordering pills as a test because actually some pro-choice researchers did that a few years ago. They ordered some abortion pills from some of these international providers and they found that many of them actually were not of high quality. Some of them arrived in damaged packaging. Some of them did not have the correct amount of the drug contained in the pill. And so they might not have been as effective, could have put women at risk for incomplete abortion and other complications. And so I think that’s another example of how we need to make sure that women are receiving the truth about the quality of some of these international providers and just the risks of chemical abortion in general, so that they are not endangering their unborn children and their health by using these dangerous pills.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Yeah so that’s, yeah, because essentially if you don’t trust the provider of medication or pharmaceuticals, who’s to say they’re providing something that would be, yeah, that would be safe in some way but so going back to that post OPS, the post OPS data. So when it comes to you’re mentioning before that, well, if I’m about like abortions going down in some states. So when it comes to you know someone living next to a abortion friendly state but maybe they’re in a where abortion is not allowed state. Do you think the numbers are showing that more women are proceeding to choose parenting or adoption or are the people traveling to that neighboring state like what is what are the numbers say when it the data say when it comes to people traveling and you know going to the neighboring state to across state lines like to possibly get an abortion.

Tessa Longbons :

Yes so we are still waiting on data from most states from 2022 because it takes states about a year to finalize their data and to make it available. So it will, it will take a few more months before we really start to get a view of what has been happening post dobs and the impact of these new pro-life state laws. But certainly we have seen just anecdotally increases in women going across state lines to other abortion centers in pro abortion states to get abortion, increase in this state travel. But also I think just from what we’ve seen that there has definitely been an impact in lives saved because certainly some women may go out of state, but not all will. And there has also just been this increase in pregnancy centers and other life affirming providers that are in these pro-life states ready to serve women and to help them. And in fact, one of our projects here at the Charlotte Closure Institute has been to just look at the impact of pregnancy centers and all of the resources that they offer to women, all of the alternatives that they offer. And we know that there are almost 3000 pregnancy centers across the country that serve nearly 2 million people a year and that these services that they provide to women and families have real world, real life impact. In just the past five years alone, pregnancy centers saved over 800,000 thousand lives from abortion and that’s only increasing. So now that states have the ability to actually put strong laws in place to protect life and pregnancy centers are stepping there into the gap to support women and families, these numbers of lives saved will only increase and states have been looking at other things that they can do to support women as well. There are many states that have alternatives to abortion programs that provide funding to life affirming alternatives for women and families. One example is Texas they have a hundred million dollar alternatives to abortion program that does just that, provides alternatives and make sure that women and families have the material resources that they need, that they have the support and encouragement that they need that they have people there to help them to get plugged in to all of these resources. And so I think that’s something that we’re going to see more of in all of these states just offering women and families these alternatives and I think that’s also going to have a definite impact on the number of lives that are saved because already we’ve seen that these laws are having an impact and I think that’s just going to continue to grow into the future.

Jacob Barr :

I think Princey clinics, they work with a variety of clients. Some are at risk of choosing abortion, some are abortion vulnerable, some are abortion minded and then as affection grows stronger towards the abortion side, they might be abortion might determined and it seems like some women might choose to let the law become their moral compass on what to do. And those women are probably you know, going to choose parenting or adoption if they let the, you know, if they let the law of the land, you know be their moral compass and that but when it comes to some women who are more abortion determined, they might travel across state lines as I think there’s going to be some women who will choose life because of the law of the land and their state. And then some women are going to travel and you know in order to pursue you know pursue what they want to do. And so I think both are probably true. But I think as more states become life minded and that you know the convenience factor of traveling is well if they’d have to you know take a flight or travel further. I think the moral compass side will end up gaining more ground. And really in the end, I feel like, you know, we’re really the battle or the, you know, the space that we’re trying to, you know, win people over is the culture of life. And as people, as more people see the value of life and understand the scientific details of life and understand, you know, essentially embrace the culture of life, I think that’s going to be, you know, the biggest competing idea to someone who might travel to another state to have an abortion would be that culture of life influence.

Tessa Longbons :

Yes well, and I think you’re exactly right. And in fact, that’s one of the things that we’ve seen in our research looking at Medicaid data, just looking at the role it plays in women’s lives, the role abortion plays. And abortion is not normal. It’s not a normal part of women’s lives. Most women don’t get abortions. Most mothers don’t get abortions. Women don’t use abortion the same way that they would use contraception, for example. We looked at, for example, one of our studies looked at how many abortions were spacing live births. We wanted to know, are women using abortion to help them structure and plan their families the way that the abortion industry says they are? And what we found is no, they’re really not. Less than 1 % of abortions were spacing 2 live births, which means these abortions were not being used for birth spacing or family structure. And so I think as we have more states putting pro-life laws into place and we are just moving away from abortion as the status quo, I think we’ll see even more that abortion is not normal for women and it’s not something that’s just a regular part of their lives. And I think now that now states have the opportunity to make sure that abortion isn’t normal and to offer other alternatives instead to no longer endorse it in the law. And that just opens the door for pregnancy centers and everyone else to come in and to continue to support women the way that they always have, but even more now to be able to reach out to women who are now looking for other alternatives and who are beginning to realize that there are other choices besides abortion that they can make. So I think you’re exactly right that this is just going to increase the culture of life and just what we consider to be normal in our society.

Jacob Barr :

So that’s really interesting that the abortion’s not being used to space out live births because essentially like that is breaking down the false belief contained within Planned Parenthood’s name. Because Planned Parenthood’s you know name is based on the fact that. Abortion is being used to let someone plan out their family. And when children are being well born in this case. And so I wonder, yeah, that’s really interesting and it feels like the data is a brilliant way to remove the power of a false belief or a lie that might be perpetrated by abortion clinics or Planned Parenthood. Wow so that’s really, I just want to sort of take a moment and just like let that sink in that yeah. Abortion is not being used to help families plan yeah plan their parenthood and so that’s that is quite interesting that you guys discovered that I it wasn’t really something I was even wasn’t really on my radar before but that makes a lot of sense that it the results make sense and but the false belief was there and now I feel like you know the powers being removed from that false belief.

Tessa Longbons :

Well, it’s just yet another way that the Medicaid data or any event level, case level abortion data is just so powerful because it really allows us to see the impact of abortion and how it’s being used because we have all of these claims data from women, all of these just encounters with the with the healthcare system and so it really does allow us to push back on all of these claims that we’ve seen from the abortion industry and to show that, no, abortion really is not normal for women it’s not. They don’t use it the same way that the abortion industry says that they do. And so just really powerful to be able to dig into it and to learn so much about women and about their pregnancy outcomes and how abortion plays a role in that.

Jacob Barr :

And it seems like one of the other lies or false beliefs that Planned Parenthood has been hammering maybe within the last year plus has been that they are healthcare or that it’s health. And I think you know the phrase that abortions are not normal like that speaks to. You know they are. Yeah they’re not normal. That essentially goes right up against how they are not healthcare. Do you what are your thoughts on the phrase when Planned Parenthood says you know healthcare no matter what or care no matter what when it comes to that false belief, How would you know if you experience data that would go up against that idea?

Tessa Longbons :

Well, we know that abortion is not healthcare because healthcare does not purposefully take an innocent human life. And so when Planned Parenthood talks about healthcare, what they really mean is abortion, because abortion is at the core of their of their purpose, a core of their everything that they do. And so it’s really a misleading false claim to say that they are providing women with healthcare that they are providing women with treatment that they need. When we’ve looked at the role that abortion plays in their in their business structure compared to other providers and really they’re the dominant provider of abortion across the United States. They are they have the market on lockdown and so it is they’re truly the abortion provider of America. And so just comparing their market lead in abortion to other market leaders like one of our, we had a paper looking at Planned Parenthood and abortion and Southwest and US domestic flights and Planned Parenthood dominates the abortion market more than southwest dominates domestic flights. And so just a kind of a clear example of how important it really is to their bottom line. And we’re still waiting to see the latest report, the latest annual report from Planned Parenthood with the latest numbers in their financials and their abortions just at the national level. But try to get an idea of what was going on, which is kind of at the affiliate level. We looked at some of their affiliate annual reports to try to get some more recent data. So you know, there’s the parent structure, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, but that is then composed of many different affiliates across the United States that operate their centers. And So what we found was that in 2020 most services and patient numbers declined in all of these affiliates that have provided data, but abortions actually went up. And so yet again, even as other services were declining, abortions were increasing just pointing to the dominant role that abortion plays for Planned Parenthood. So not providing healthcare, just taking life, not saving it.

Jacob Barr :

So what % of abortions in the US do you think Planned Parenthood is responsible for? Would it be more than 50 % or less than 50?

Tessa Longbons :

I believe it’s probably around 40 % right now, but like I said, we’re still waiting on the most data they did not release their annual report on their normal schedule and so that could change depending on what the final numbers are. So probably not more than half but certainly, compared to all of the other abortion centers abortion facilities across the country, Planned Parenthood is the largest single provider of abortion.

Jacob Barr :

One of the other false beliefs that Planned Parenthood has been saying for, well, several years, I’m not sure how many is that 3 % of what they do is abortion, or that 3 % number and how they do a lot more for women. However, when a what? What is the data shown? Well, maybe you may not have this yet, but you may in the future. What is the data shown when it comes to a state banning abortion and Planned Parenthood’s Are they keeping offices in those states where they’re not able to provide abortions or are they closing their doors and opening up abortion, you know, a new clinic across the state line in a pro abortion state like, I wonder if you know, is that false? Is that a false belief that 3 % of their services and those 3 % are key obviously it seems like to what they do, even though they may call it just 3 %, it seems like that’s the only 3 % that matters and what they do because they if they’re not able to do that, then they don’t keep their doors open to do the 97 % that they might be claiming to do. What are your thoughts on that statement is that a false belief or how would you react to that?

Tessa Longbons :

Well, definitely the claim that abortion is only 3 % of what Planned Parenthood does is false, and they have been fact checked on that, and the fact checkers rated it false because abortion is far more of what they do in fact, if you look at all of their pregnancy resolution services, prenatal care, miscarriage management, and abortion, the vast, vast majority are abortion so if you’re pregnant, you walk into Planned Parenthood, you’re probably going to leave having had an abortion compared to any of the other options that you might have. But as far as the impact of jobs on their business model, I think a lot of that we’re just going to have to wait and see exactly what the fallout is. But even in advance of jobs, Planned Parenthood hood was shutting down some centers, consolidating, moving things around and they said that just because of the increasingly restrictive pro-life environment, they were, they were kind of restructuring and looking at what their options were. And so I think we’re just going to see more of that because abortion is so important to their bottom line that they’re going to have to start making decisions about what they’re going to do in states that have put pro-life laws into place. And I think a lot of abortion centers are making that, making those same decisions. There’s stories in the news every day about abortion centers that are shutting down many are relocating to states that are very permissive, have no restrictions on abortion. And so I think there is going to continue to be that shift from pro-life to pro abortion States and really demonstrates that abortion was central to the mission all along compared to everything else that these centers said that they did.

Jacob Barr :

That’s yeah. So when it comes to the data you’ve looked at, how would you, what are your thoughts on the impact of life affirming pregnancy clinics and pregnancy centers and the impact that they have had on the abortion numbers?

Tessa Longbons :

Well, they’ve had an enormous impact. That recent studies study of ours that I mentioned earlier looking at the impact of pregnancy centers, that was just from five years and over 800,000 thousand lives had been saved from abortion by pregnancy centers in the United States. So if you’re just looking at that five year snapshot, that’s an enormous number. And pregnancy centers, the movement started 50 years ago and so they’ve had just this enormous impact over the decades and now that states have the power now they’ve been empowered to put their own state laws into place that reflect the will of the people and that protect life. Pregnancy centers are going to have even more room to save even more lives so I think the impact that they’re going to have it, well, it’s already been enormous and I think it’s just going to continue to increase because there are 3000 almost pregnancy centers nationwide and they just serve communities, they serve women with the this enormous volume of services. And so now that they have kind of an even wider field to operate in, I think they’re just going to be able to have even much more of an impact.

Jacob Barr :

Yes, I would, I would agree and yeah, I just, I feel like God is working through the Precy Clinics to bring hope and help to women who are being marketed with death essentially by Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics. Where have you seen God’s fingerprints and your data, your research, your pro-life efforts and work where have you seen God working or, you know, God showing up in your Yeah, by looking at all these different sources and trying to understand the state of the pro-life slash abortion world.

Tessa Longbons :

Well, that’s a good question, and I see God’s fingerprints everywhere, so it’s hard to narrow it down. But it’s just been amazing to me to see how these different elements of the pro-life movement have been able to work together and just the impact of reliable, accurate research showing what abortion really is and the impact that it really does have. The damage in terms of lives lost and the just the damage to women and to men who’ve been touched by it. Just how impactful that can be to people and to others in the pro-life movement. And that’s been something that’s been wonderful for me to see just how some of our research here at the Charlotte Loser Institute, the abortion statistics that we pull together. My job looking at state level abortion data and what’s what that’s showing, how that can then be used for pregnancy centers and churches and other pro-life individuals to then turn around and know how best to serve women. And so we’ve partnered with one of our sister organizations, Her Plan, the Pregnancy and Life Assistance Network. They put together some handbooks that show in each particular state what the needs are, what the trends are, how people can get involved. And at CLI, we contributed a lot of the research on abortion trends and what abortion looked like in each particular state to plan. And so every time I hear how a church found that useful, and every time I hear how our research was useful to a pregnancy center that was trying to determine where best to be located to serve women. It is just so encouraging to me to know that all of these different aspects of the pro-life movement are working together and they are giving women better options, helping to meet people at their lowest point and really give them the support and resources that they need. And so that I just love seeing how God has used all of these different elements and put them together in such a beautiful way to best support women and families.

Jacob Barr :

Awesome yeah, i often think of the pro-life world at you know, it’s almost like it. Reflection like the body of Christ in a way where some people bring help in a certain way and some people bring other kind of help in another way. And i feel like out of that body, like your group essentially is providing hope and stories by providing the data, you know, the analyzing of the data in order to help us understand where we’re at, where we’ve been and where we’re going and that’s really good. And also I feel like breaking down these false beliefs in a way that because we can break them down philosophically, but breaking them down with data is a completely another like reinforcing way of like essentially destroying a false belief that we shouldn’t give any value to and that we need to identify and take away its power. And, you know, just simply let it crumble because it’s hurting people who hear it and yeah, believe it and that’s what you know and so i think you know that data speaking into these false beliefs, being false and not worthy of believing, is exceptionally valuable.

Tessa Longbons :

Exactly there have just been so many lies around abortion. Just so much information, so much bad science, so much flawed research. And so that is our goal to come in and do reliable, valid research that everyone can use to really see what’s happening and then take turn around and support women and families with it. And so I think you that analogy to the body of Christ is very good. It’s what we try to do, just be that resource for everyone else when they’re looking for what exactly is going on and what is the truth about abortion and what it does.

Jacob Barr :

Well, i just want to say thank you for your time today to be on this podcast and thank you for, well, not just for you but for your team, your whole team of you know at CLI doing this amazing part of the pro-life body essentially reflecting the body of Christ when it comes to you know, honoring unborn children made in the image of God. And with the hopes that it just feels like at the very moment that life begins the devil is trying to bring in death right at that very beginning. And then not that you slows down, you know, down the road, but he’s bringing it right at the beginning and I think that’s why this is an important work it’s because we’re going up against evil that is trying to destroy life through manipulation, false beliefs and destroying not just the child but the mom and the family and so on and it’s just destroying the family unit. But so I would love to interview interview again, but I think this is probably a good episode and so thank you thank you for being on here and for just sharing your wisdom and intellect and reflections this was really enjoyable to hear.

Tessa Longbons :

Well, thank you so much for having me on it was so great to talk with you and we really just appreciate your podcast and your work making these conversations happen and getting this information out to the rest of the pro-life movement so thank you to you and your listeners for everything that you all do and we really appreciate you.