Pennsylvania Abortion Numbers Decline Significantly in 2002

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 10, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pennsylvania Abortion Numbers Decline Significantly in 2002

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
December 10, 2003

Harrisburg, PA ( — Pro-life leaders in Pennsylvania have new reason for hope, judging from the latest abortion statistics. The figures show the Commonwealth’s abortion
rate has dropped for the first time in three years.

Abortions fell in Pennsylvania in 2002 to 35,167, a reduction of 4.5 percent from the previous year’s totals. That means 1,653 fewer unborn children died in Pennsylvania in 2002 than in 2001.

Pennsylvania’s abortion rate inched upward in 2000 and 2001, but 2002 apparently marks a turnaround, according to the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation.

In a written statement, the Pro-Life Federation said, "Pennsylvania women are recognizing that abortion is not a compassionate response to the challenges posed by an unexpected pregnancy. They want life-affirming solutions to their problems–not a cold-hearted offer to take the life of their unborn child."

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference echoed that sentiment.

"I was relieved to see that the upward trend we saw starting with the 2000 statistics has come to an end," said the Conference’s Executive Director, Dr. Robert J. O’Hara, Jr.

"We are confident that if women are presented with more information on the growing life within them and the many resources available to help them continue their pregnancy and raise their child, these numbers can be greatly reduced," O’Hara added.

The Pro-Life Federation attributed the downturn to two factors: a decrease in the number of facilities registered to perform abortions in Pennsylvania and the success
of Real Alternatives, a state-funded program which offers women life-affirming alternatives to abortion.

Real Alternatives provides women with comprehensive services–everything from counseling to car seats–to help them make life-saving choices for themselves and their babies.

However, while there is cause for optimism as a result of the latest abortion statistics, pro-life leaders say more work needs to be done. 

For instance, the abortion rate for African-American women in Pennsylvania is disproportionately high. While blacks make up about 12 percent of the state’s population, black women undergo more than 40 percent of all abortions in the state.

"It’s time the abortion industry stops the black genocide. African-American women deserve better than abortion," the Pro-Life Federation said.

Not surprisingly, 20- to 24-year-olds remain Pennsylvania’s most abortion-vulnerable population. About a third of all abortions in the state are performed on women in this age bracket.

Women that age are often under tremendous pressure from family and friends to
finish college "on time." As a result, they may feel as if they have to abort in order to achieve their academic and professional goals.

But pro-life activists say that young women need to be informed that pregnancy does not mean the end of their lives, but rather a new beginning. They can still accomplish goals, but they may approach them differently as a result of their life experience. In other words, while a young woman facing an unexpected pregnancy may face problems, the baby is not one of them.

Ninety percent of the abortions that take place in Pennsylvania occur in or around three major cities: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg.

Other statistics from the recent abortion report:

* 45 percent of abortions were repeat abortions done on women who have had one or more previous abortions.

* 55.6 percent of all abortions performed in Pennsylvania were to white women and 14,330 or 40.7 percent were to black women. (Black Pennsylvanians represent roughly 12 percent of the state’s population.) 

* Teenagers age 17 and younger accounted for 6.3 percent or 2,206 of the abortions in 2002 – the same percentage that occurred in 2001.

"Behind each of these statistics is a story of how we’ve failed to meet the needs of a woman and her child so that a baby could be welcomed with joy," O’Hara concluded. "There are a variety of legitimate ways to try to reduce abortions. Assisting pregnant women is a loving, compassionate, and effective way to do so."