A new estimate published by the National Right to Life Committee indicates there have been an estimated 54,559,615 abortions since the Supreme Court handed down its 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision allowing virtually unlimited abortions.
Although the March for Life took place today, yesterday was the 39th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions — companion cases from Texas and Georgia that struck down pro-life laws protecting unborn children across the country.
In a new document, “Abortion Statistics: United States Data and Trends,” NRLC education director Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon estimates that there have been 54,559,615 abortions since 1973 based on data from both the Centers for Disease Control and the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, a former Planned Parenthood research arm. Guttmacher receives numbers directly from abortion centers themselves and is the prime source for more current figures because 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.
“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,” O’Bannon says.
The number means there are more than 3,300 abortions daily and 137 abortions per hour every hour in the United States. Translated another way, an abortion is done about every 30 seconds in the United States.
The analysis also found that the best estimate for the current number of annual abortions in the United States — involving both the surgical abortion procedure as well as the dangerous abortion drug RU 486 — is 1.2 million.
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. The partial-birth abortion ban and the use of 3_D and 4_D ultrasounds is also credited.
“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.
“Abortion has taken a terrible toll on America. We’ve now lost more than 54 million of our sons, daughters, friends, and neighbors and we are a much poorer nation for it,” O’Bannon 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.”
As abortions have declined, the number of surgical abortion centers has declined as well. According to Operation Rescue, in 1991, there were over 2,176 surgical abortion clinics in America. Today there are 663. Nearly 70% of all surgical abortion clinics have closed in that time.