by Steven Ertelt
January 23, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Sometime during 2005, the United States reached an ugly new milestone: more than 47 million abortions have been performed in the 33 years since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion throughout pregnancy for virtually any reason.
The figure comes from analysis from the National Right to Life Committee, based on data from the Alan Guttmacher Institute. AGI, a research group affiliated with Planned Parenthood, compiles what both sides on abortion believe are the most accurate abortion statistics.
While the number of abortions nationwide is on the decline, the total figure of abortions since the landmark 1973 ruling continues to climb and is expected to reach 50 million by 2008.
"It’s an unspeakable tragedy," Dr. Randall O’Bannon, director of education and research at National Right to Life, told Baptist Press.
"That [47 million] is higher than the population of some countries. That would be wiping out a number of whole states," he explained.
AGI tabulates abortion statistics by contacting abortion businesses directly and its latest year of data, from 2002, shows 1,293,000 abortions. AGI assumes the number of abortions has stayed around the 1.2 million mark annually, though numerous states are reporting sharp abortion declines in the last two to three years.
"Our society needs to put in context the enormous amount of loss that we’ve suffered — the enormous amount of intelligence, the enormous amount of creativity, the enormous amount of productivity," O’Bannon told Baptist Press.
Most Americans may not realize why most of those abortions are performed, but most Americans oppose most abortions.
An AGI survey of women who had abortions in 2004 found that just 1.5 percent indicated the abortion came after a rape or incest.
Some 25 percent indicated they were not ready for a child, 23 percent couldn’t afford to have a baby at the time, 19 percent did not want any more children, 8 percent didn’t want to be a single mother, 7 percent said they were too young to have children, and 4 percent were worried about a pregnancy interfering with education or a career.
A November 2005 Gallup poll asked when Americans thought abortion should be legal and 54 percent of Americans oppose either all or most abortions while just 42 percent say abortion should always be legal or legal in most circumstances.
A January 2006 CBS News poll and a 2005 Wirthlin Worldwide poll find about the same percentages.
Gallup also asked respondents about various circumstances when women have abortions and while the exceptions (life of the mother and rape/incest have about 80% support) the socioeconomic responses that women gave to AGI were all very well under 50% in terms of support in the Gallup poll.
Those polling results show O’Bannon that pro-life groups still need to educate Americans on the basics about abortion.
"I still think they are not aware of the numbers of abortions that occur, and they’re certainly not aware of the reasons that they occur," he told Baptist Press.
"In those circumstances, most Americans say, ’No, they don’t believe that that is a sufficient reason to have an abortion,’" O’Bannon concluded. "What they are not aware of is that around nine out of 10 abortions are in fact done for those reasons."