I have often seen people claim that red states have fairly high abortion rates. The goal of this claim is apparently to paint red states as hypocrites about abortion, which I think is supposed to score a rhetorical point in favor of abortion access. I am not totally sure. Nonetheless, the claim is not really that well-founded.

Generally, this argument is made by pointing to data that tracks the number of abortions per 1000 women. Those numbers are certainly not a slam dunk for the idea that abortion is as prevalent in red states as blue states, but there are some classic red states that do score fairly high on that metric, e.g. Texas.

But when you think about it, that statistic is not very helpful. If you want to see whether states are living up to their pro-life politics, the proper measurement would seem to be abortions per pregnancy, not abortions per capita. Luckily, a 2010 Guttmacher study provides data on something it calls the abortion ratio, which is the number of abortions per 100 pregnancies. I could only find teenage abortion ratio numbers, but those are pretty telling.

To determine if there is any correlation between state political affiliations and teenage abortion ratios, I plotted teenage abortion ratios for all 50 states and DC by the percentage of votes cast for President Obama in 2008. This was the result:

States that voted for Obama at higher percentages also have higher abortion ratios. In fact, the state percentage of support for President Obama explains 64.7% of the variation in state teenage abortion ratios. It seems then that, as a general matter, the claim that red states are big hypocrites on abortion is not empirically supported.