Saturday, June 11, 2016

bad graph : Washington Post's abortion map

The lesson of this bad graph is don't just look at the graph but read the text.

from the Washington Post is this 2013 article by Sarah Kliff.

1. Before the Roe decision, most states did not allow legal abortion.

while the map does paint a certain picture by referring to "repeal" and "reform" of abortion laws. and the subhead says "most states did not allow legal abortion" the text walks that back considerably :
...Through the mid-1960s, 44 states outlawed abortion in nearly all situations that did not threaten the life or health of the mother. States began liberalizing their abortion laws in the 1960s and 1970s. This map shows the situation in the early-1970s, when Roe was decided.

The four maroon states legalized abortion in nearly all cases before the fetus was viable. The 14 pink states allowed abortions in some circumstances. Nearly all others continued to ban abortion in most cases.
This source lists the reformed group as : Colorado, North Carolina, California, Georgia, Maryland, Arkansas, New Mexico, Kansas, Oregon, Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia and Florida. I only count 13 which is also the count on the map.

The part I bolded hollows out the headline. So, the subhead should read "1. Before the Roe decision, most states DID allow legal abortion."  And the map should look different.

Note that unlike Kliff I include both a map showing an accurate representation of the subhead and also a map detailing what abortion laws actually looked like.

note that I haven't looked into  the specific restrictions of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey's laws outlawing "unlawful" or "unjustified" abortions and what a lawful or justified abortion would be. The source used for the map (Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing April 1972) does note that in contrast to Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, New Jersey had a higher abortion rate than almost any other state.
Note #2 : I'm not sure what the previous laws in Wisconsin and Texas were. Texas, where Roe v Wade originated, did include an allowance for rape.
Note #3 (added Oct 2016) : Washington DC, which I didn't place on the map would be black like Texas and Wisconsin (abortion laws had been invalidated by the courts pre-Roe vs Wade)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, as always. Thanks.