Analysis Shows 52 Million Abortions Since Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade Decision
by Steven Ertelt
January 22, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Read any commentary on the contentious abortion debate and you’ll likely find a wide variety of numbers attempting to estimate the number of abortions that have taken place since the Supreme Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade abortion decision since 1973.
Now, a new analysis from the National Right to Life Committee based on hard data and estimates for the most recent years finds 52 million unborn children have been killed in abortion since the Roe decision.
Any analysis of abortion stats and figures starts with the understanding that the Centers for Disease Control has never tabulated accurate numbers of abortions. The CDC relies on figures from state health departments, some of which rely on voluntary reporting — and it hasn’t had data from some states such as California and New Hampshire for more than a decade.
In its survey of abortion numbers, NRLC goes to the source by relying on the Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, which receives numbers directly from abortion centers themselves.
"Because of these different methods of data collection, GI has consistently obtained higher counts than the CDC. CDC researchers have admitted it probably undercounts the total number of abortions because reporting laws vary from state to state and some abortionists probably do not report or under-report the abortions they perform," NRLC explains.
Digging into the numbers, the NRLC analysis shows abortion numbers rising in the 1970s and, in the 1980s, abortion eventually mainstreamed itself to the point that about 1.55 million abortions were done annually until the early 1990s.
At that point, as crisis pregnancy centers began turning the corner with the use of ultrasounds, pro-life state legislation began to take hold and the Internet allowed the pro-life perspective to flourish, abortions began to decline.
"After reaching a high of over 1.6 million in 1990, the number of abortions annually performed in the U.S. has dropped back to levels not seen since the late 1970s," NRLC says.
The Guttmacher Institutes most recent abortion figures, from 2005, confirm the downward trend from a high of 1.6 million abortions in 1990 to 1.2 million that year. Without any hard figures in the last few years, NRLC estimates the number of abortions from 2006 to today at the same rate of 1.2 million that GI reported.
To calculate the overall number of abortions, NRLC includes the hard figures from 1973-2005, the estimates for the last few years and also includes the Guttmacher Institute’s admission that its own figures are likely about three percent lower than the actual totals because of potential errors in reporting.
National Right to Life estimates that, as the nation marks the 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, there have been 52,008,665 abortions using either surgical or the abortion drug (RU 486) method since Roe v. Wade.
NRLC director of research and education Randy O’Bannon talked with LifeNews.com about the figures.
"Abortion has taken a terrible toll on America. We’ve now lost more than 52 million of our sons, daughters, friends, and neighbors and we are a much poorer nation for it," he said.
"Over the past twenty years, however, we have seen that pro-life efforts can make a difference, as the number of abortions performed in the U.S. has declined from 1.6 million to 1.2 million a year. We’ve still a long way to go, obviously, but we see that pro-life legislation, education, and outreach can save and has saved hundreds of thousands of lives," O’Bannon added. "Our task is great, but our cause is just."
Related web sites:
NRLC facthseet on abortion numbers –
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