Anti-abortion activists who “claim” that abortions are not decreasing have neither the documentation nor the knowledge to prove their claims.
One such pro-life “claim” was refuted recently by Jill Stanek on her blog which you can read here.
The argument is that medical abortion as opposed to surgical abortion are somehow not counted in the overall abortion stats which then contradicts statements by pro-life leaders who say that abortions are decreasing in United States.
Of all the people I have heard use this bogus claim, no one offers a single study to back it up.
In addition, they fail to mention that medical abortions are counted in the overall abortion stats where abortion reporting is required.
It is important to note that medical abortions never went OTC because of popularity – this happened because of politics plain and simple.
The early medical abortion, RU486 or mifepristone was not approved for use in the US until Sept 2000.
So how do they account or the drop in abortions prior to those dates?
The chemical abortion, Plan B, regarded by the FDA as a “emergency contraction”, was first approved in July 2009 for use without a prescription for women age 17 and older and as a prescription-only option for women younger than age 17. In April 2013, the product was approved for nonprescription use for women as young as 15. In June of 2013, Plan B became available to women and girls of all ages.
Although, it might be true that some chemicals labeled “contraception” which are abortive, may not be included in the abortion numbers – it is also true that this has always been the case.
For example, if emergency contraception is counted as “birth control” and not “abortion” that does not negate the fact that abortions are on the decrease.
Because emergency contraception (also called “morning after pills” or “day after pills”) is only effective up to 5 days after having sex and Plan B must be taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse to be effective, it may be true that some women who take EC or Plan B are pregnant – but- it may also be true that some are not pregnant – a fact we will never know.
Just as it is true that the birth control pill and other forms of “contraception” may also be abortive, their numbers have never been included in the overall abortion stats.
What we are looking at is “trends.”
Prior to Roe, women were not seeking abortions by the millions like they do today.
After abortion was legalized it is true that abortion numbers rose.
However, according to stats, abortions peaked in 1990 (around then) and after groups like Operation Rescue and others took to the streets – they went on a downward trend which continues to this day.
According to the CDC:
following nationwide legalization of abortion in 1973, the total number, rate (number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years), and ratio (number of abortions per 1,000 live births) of reported abortions increased rapidly, reaching the highest levels in the 1980s before decreasing at a slow yet steady pace . However, the incidence of abortion has varied considerably across demographic subpopulations (5–9). Moreover, during 2006–2008, an interruption occurred in the previously sustained pattern of decrease, but was then followed in subsequent years by even greater decreases.
We used to have almost 2200 abortion clinics in America and according to a 2014 analysis by Operation Rescue which tracks abortion clinics closures, the total number of all remaining abortion clinics in the US is currently 739. Surgical abortion facilities account for 551 of that total while the number of medication-only abortion facilities stands at 188.
How can the majority of abortions be medical when the majority of clinics are surgical?
Abortion restrictions limit abortion access and reduce abortion numbers.
We know that legalization makes abortion “appear” acceptable – which in turn increases them. We know from studying trends that when abortion became legalized, for example the numbers of African American women who had abortions went way up. We also know from studies that if an abortion clinic is within certain miles of a woman seeking abortion that her decision to have the abortion increases. All those factors change when the abortion clinic is closed.
Trends for example in the African American community show that not only did legalization increase abortion so did access.
Studies from the CDC show that, prior to legalization, approximately 80% of all illegal abortions were done on white women. One study in New York even found that white women had five-times as many abortions as black women.
But, at the moment abortion became legal, that began to reverse.
In 1973, researchers within the abortion movements were documenting that easy access to abortion clinics produces higher abortion rates in the surrounding area. And at least one expert discovered that having a nearby clinic is a bigger factor in the black abortion rate than it is in the while abortion rate.
In a 1999 paper published by the American Journal of Public Health Phillip B. Levine, Douglas Staigei; along with Thomas J. Kane and David J. Zimnmerman, entitled, Roe v Wade and American Fertility, the group points out that when abortions are made legal, fertility rates drop with a reduction in births of teens and non-White women to be the largest.
“Estimates show that births to non-White women in repeal states (vs states with no law change) fell by 12% just following repeal, more than 3 times the effect on White women’s fertility,” that paper states.
The group also concluded that there was an important connection between the fall of birth rates in states where abortion was accessible vs. states where it was not, “The results indicate that travel between states to obtain abortions was important. Births in repeal states fell by almost 11% relative to births in nonrepeal states more than 750 miles away but only by 4.5% relative to births in states less than 250 miles away and those in states between 250 and 750 miles away,” the authors write.
What this shows is the reverse is also true. Closing abortion clinics will reduce abortions overall.
Abortion advocates know that when abortion access i.e. the closing of local abortion clinics takes place- fewer women have abortions.
Many reasons for women NOT to get a medical abortion.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology women prefer surgical abortions, “Generally, women are satisfied with the method they choose but, when randomized, prefer surgical abortion to medical abortion,“ ACOG says.
When women choose medical abortion they choose them because of a desire to avoid surgery, a perception that medical abortion is safer than surgical abortion, and a belief that medical abortion is more natural and private than a surgical procedure.
However, compared with surgical abortion, medical abortion takes longer to complete, requires more active patient participation, and is associated with higher reported rates of bleeding and cramping.
- With medical abortion, expulsion of the products of conception [i.e. the unborn baby], most likely will occur at home, but a few women will still require surgical evacuation to complete the abortion. An early surgical abortion takes place most commonly in one visit and involves less waiting and less doubt about when the abortion occurs compared with medical abortion. In addition, women who undergo surgical abortion will not see any products of conception [or fetal body parts] or blood clots during the procedure.
Given this data, it is a marketing ploy by the for-profit abortion lobby to give an impression that many abortions are “non-cutting” or non-surgical. That is because “Surgery” scares clients.
However- the use of the term non-surgical abortion does not imply that they are medical as Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D at National Right to Life explains:
- Clinics are obviously trying to address and assuage these fears. On the one hand they explicitly try to argue in their descriptions of the procedures that “no cutting is involved” (Aaron’s Women’s Clinic, Houston TX). Or they can say that in a vacuum aspiration “There is NO cutting or scraping of the uterus” (Northside Women’s Clinic, Atlanta, GA).
The South Jersey Women’s Center still calls these surgical abortions (which they are), but tries to distinguish these from ordinary surgical procedures. “No cutting or incision is necessary and the procedure takes only 5 to 7 minutes.”
Planned Parenthood avoids the term “surgical” and tries to call these “In-Clinic Abortion Procedures.”
New York OB/GYN AssociatesTM classifies these as “Non-Surgical Abortions” because they “do not involve any scraping or scarring of the uterus.” They say that “There is no cutting during an Aspiration Abortion.” They maintain that “There is no scraping, no scaring and no damage to the uterine wall.”
Both the chemical and aspiration methods they advertise “are designed to naturally release a woman’s pregnancy in a gentle and safe way, which does not cause damage.”
However there is more to this than just calming fears and apprehensions. The abortion industry has found it increasingly difficult to find doctors willing to perform abortions or to add abortion to their practices. By re-defining the abortion procedure as “non-surgical,” this opens up the performance of abortion to a whole new set of medical practitioners.
Promoters of the idea that these are “non-surgical” try to employ the rationale that because they do not cut tissue to enter the woman’s body but enter through the birth canal, these are somehow, strictly speaking, not surgery.
What the increase of medical abortions show is that abortions are occurring earlier, not that more are happening.
As of 2008 medical abortions comprised around 15-16% of abortions.
In 2011, the CDC reported that at ≤8 weeks’ gestation, early medical abortion accounted for 28.5% of abortions, but at all subsequent points in gestation the use of medications to induce abortions through nonsurgical methods accounted for only 0.6%–5.3% of reported abortions.
A July 2014 report by Guttmacher said that in 2011, medication abortion accounted for 23% of all nonhospital abortions and 36% of abortions before nine weeks’ gestation a similar figure to the CDC.
Early medication abortions have increased from 6% of all abortions in 2001 to 23% in 2011, even while the overall number of abortions continued to decline, Guttmacher reports.
(NOTE: Medication and nonsurgical abortions numbers are reflected in Guttmachers overall abortion totals.)
Having said all of that, I do agree that not all abortions are reported – but – as I document above- they never have been.
What we are using to determine that abortions are declining is stats that have been in place since the 1970’s.
An analogy by Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, reveals the nonsense of critics of the pro-life movement by comparing stats on abortion numbers to other statistics we commonly reference, “How do they know robbery and murder rates are down? Those are just stats also,” he told Saynsumthn.
Newman points out that there are many ways to steal online and those thefts may not get counted.
In addition, Newman says that people can be murdered in ways that don’t look like murder, “Does that mean that the “anti-murder” crowd and the “anti-robbery crowd” need to do a better job and stop quoting published crime stats?” he asked.
Take polls for example, they do not sample all people but are a proven indication of trends. If you do not use any source for your abortion stats how can you then make the claim from that – nothing has changed?
So, even though an argument can be made that every abortion is not reported, that does not prove that abortions are not decreasing in numbers.
Know this, that had it not been for pro-life legislation, pro-life counselors outside abortion clinics, undercover efforts to expose doctors and clinics the numbers would be much higher no matter how you look at it. This is not a complete victory – but it is a reason to push all the harder to banish abortion from our land.
No one has ever claimed that ALL abortions are reported however the baseline is consistent.
Whatever the real number – pro-lifers have the testimony of many women who have chosen life as a source as well.
I have been in this fight for 32 years and no person who is recently interested in the unborn will EVER convince me that we have not saved lives and made a difference.
You can try to re-write history if you want to, but some of us lived this history and until we are dead we will testify to the changes we have witnessed.