Abortions down five percent

Figures do not include California

Michael New

The following comes from a November 27 story on the Catholic News Agency site.

A new government report estimates the number of U.S. abortions dropped five percent in 2009, drawing praise from pro-life advocates and researchers who say the drop could be due in part to an increase in the numbers of pro-life Americans.

“Overall I’m pleased to see the abortion numbers are coming down,” Michael J. New, a political science professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, told CNA Nov. 26. “We’ve seen a pretty consistent downward trend in abortion since 1990. The numbers have declined almost every year. The numbers are down almost 25 percent overall since the early nineties. Overall, that’s a good thing.”

Charmaine Yoest

New said it is “very hard to say” what caused the short-term decline. He suggested a combination of more pro-life laws, the lack of abortion clinics in many parts of the country, and the change of “hearts and minds” on abortion.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Nov. 21 released a report based on figures from 43 states and two cities. Although there are an estimated 1 million abortions in the U.S. each year, the report counted about 785,000 in 2009. The figures do not include statistics from California, which has the most abortion providers in the country.

Using the available figures, researchers found that abortions fell from 16 per 1,000 women of child-bearing age in 2008 to about 15 per 1,000 women in 2009, about 38,000 fewer abortions.

New noted that 2009 was the first year a majority of respondents to the Gallup Survey questions on abortion said they were pro-life.

“Now in fairness we don’t have a lot of research which correlates public opinion towards abortion with abortion rates, but I think that’s something that ought to be considered,” he said.

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President and CEO of Americans United for Life, said the drop in abortions is “a real cause for giving thanks.

However, she questioned why the abortion-related deaths of 12 women are “buried in the very last table of the report and unremarked on in the news.”

“The news from this report is that abortion harms women, as well as their babies,” she said Nov. 23.

New, whose work has examined the possible effects of state policy on the abortion rate, said the decline was “pretty broad based” and not confined to states that vote mainly Republican or Democratic.

Among reporting states, Mississippi had the lowest abortion rate of 4 per 1,000 women of child-bearing age. New York state, which has the second most abortion providers in the U.S., had the highest abortion rate of 29.8 per 1,000 women of child bearing age. New York also reported 466 abortions per 1,000 live births.

Most abortions are performed by the eighth week of pregnancy, the government report said. About 85 percent of women who seek abortions are not married. White women had the lowest abortion rate of 8.5 abortions per 1,000 women of child-bearing age. The rate among Hispanic women was 19.3 per 1,000, while among black women the rate was 34.2 per 1,000.

There are few records that measure how many women choose to carry their babies to term after engagement with pro-life advocates.

The 40 Days for Life organization, which leads national campaigns of prayer and outreach outside abortion clinics, reported that its participants helped save over 430 babies from abortion in its spring 2009 campaign and over 600 babies in its fall 2009 campaign.

Several researchers told the Associated Press that the drop in the numbers of abortions could be due to more widespread and more effective use of contraception.

However, New was skeptical.

“Quite honestly there is no evidence to back that up,” he told CNA. “I haven’t seen any data which suggests that starting in 2009 women started to use contraception more often or they started to use more effective contraception. I think that’s just purely conjecture.”

To read original Catholic News Agency story, click here.

To read original CDC report, click here.


To add a comment, click on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ icons OR go further down to the bottom of comments to the Post your comment box.


  1. Maryanne Leonard says:

    Obviously the number of people working every year to save the lives of babies who are about to be aborted is tragically higher than the reported number of babies’ lives saved. While it is wonderful that the 40 Days for Life campaign has saved hundreds of babies lives annually in recent years, the return on the investment of effort is minuscle in comparison to the over 50 million babies aborted since Roe v. Wade. The prayer warrior campaigns, of which I have long been a part, are only sometimes successful, sad to say. It is imperative that we change tactics and work on winning the hearts and minds of the American public in this war for life. Just because it is harder to go public and campaign personally for that noble cause to which we are dedicated is no reason to shrink from this necessary task. I do not say abandon prayer; of course not; on the contrary! But milling about, praying and/or demonstrating, with or without signs, alone or in league with others, a few, several or even countless abortion days a year, is resulting in sorrowfully few “saves,” joyful as each baby’s saved life is. We do need to force ourselves to stretch now, to organize more effectively, to take our passion to the people, and to transform the hearts of the young. We saw young people take up the cause of environmentalism, express sympathy and support for their gay peers, and join forces to vote for the person who most nearly represents their values, proving that they are forces to be reckoned with and that they will be guiding the future of this nation from this point forward, whether we like it or not. We must bring their youthful passions to bear to save their younger brothers and sisters from senseless slaughter, not just here in the USA, but ultimately around the globe, once we have won the war against baby murdering on our own ground. Please change course, my friends! Our moral leadership is vital in this effort. Pass it on.

  2. Larry from RI says:

    How many pregnancies were there during a given period??
    How many abortions ” ” ” the same period????
    I would like to see these statistics.

  3. Some will claim that the abortion rates drop because of government entitlement programs.

  4. Bottom line—who knows what the truth is.

    Abortions are notoriously under-reported to anyone, least of all to a government agency. Do you think Bertha Bugarin or Kermit gosnell ever reported even one abortion and they were doing volume business.

    We all hope that pro-life education and the routine use of ultrasound has had a considerable impact.

    As more women see the photos of what abortion really is, they are less likely to have their children killed,

  5. Steve Seitz says:

    Does anyone know if these abortion statistics cover just surgical abortion or surgical and chemical abortion.

    • Good question Steve.
      Another question:
      Why was CA left out (the most populated State by 12 million compared to #2 Texas), and some of FL left out in the completed stats (the 4th most populated State) ?
      How does this affect CDC’s figures, that get published in the media to sway public opinion?

  6. How can one write an article, based on a conclusion not supported by the evidence? It’s like saying: What global warming!? Average temperatures for the USA are near freezing! (Temperatures for Florida, Texas, and California not included.)

  7. Is the decline in “surgical” abortions only! Are “chemical” abortions included in this decline!

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 250 words, and should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.

Post your comment

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 250 words, and should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.