Abortions Stop Falling After Previous Lows, Abortion Drug Used More

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 11, 2011   |   11:04AM   |   Washington, DC

New figures from the Guttmacher Institute reveal the number of abortions in the United States and the abortion rate has risen slightly after its last report showed historic lows.

The institute is pro-abortion but regarded by pro-life groups as having more accurate abortion figures than the Centers for Disease Control because it receives its numbers directly from abortion businesses and accounts for all 50 states, whereas the CDC does not receive reports from California and others.

The new numbers show the actual number of abortions in the U.S. rose from 1,206,200 in 2005 to 1,212,350 in 2008 — the first increase since steady decreases during both the 1990’s and 2000’s. Abortion figures peaked in 1990 but had been dropping ever since thanks to pro-life legislative and educational efforts as well as the work of pregnancy centers offering women tangible pregnancy help and abortion alternatives.

The abortion rate — the percentage of pregnancies ending in abortion — had reached the lowest point in the 2005 Guttmacher Institute figures since the year following Roe. Now that has gone up from a rate of 19.4 percent of pregnancies ending in abortion in 2005 to 19.6 in 2008.

Rachel Jones, senior research associate at Guttmacher, indicated she believed the downturn in the economy had a role in the slight upturn in the abortion numbers: “We expect that the economy did impact unintended pregnancy and abortion, but other factors did as well.”

One factor is that Guttmacher included in its 2008 report abortion centers that were not accounted for in the 2005 report — making it so the abortion totals and abortion rate likely remained about the same had they been included before.

Guttmacher also indicated the number of abortion businesses in the United States rose from 1,787 in 2005 to 1,793 in 2008, marking the first occasion in which its numbers showed an increase in the number of abortion facilities since 1982. However, figures from pro-life groups paint a different picture — showing fewer abortion centers. In fact, the Guttmacher numbers only show an increase because some abortion centers in California were not included in the 2005 total that were finally accounted for in this new survey. Had they not been included, the number of abortion centers would have fallen 3 percent.

Randy O’Bannon, the director of education and research at the National Right to Life Committee, credited pro-life groups with preventing any increases in the abortion totals.

“Grassroots pro-life legislative and educational efforts, along with the practical, life-affirming alternatives to abortion offered by pregnancy care centers across the United States, have certainly had an impact in preventing an increase in the annual number of abortions,” he told LifeNews.com. “But with abortion continuing to claim the lives of more than 100,000 unborn children every month, we must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to educate the public and enact laws that protect unborn children and their mothers from the dangers of abortion and make sure they know that help is available.”

The report also found an increase in the use of the dangerous abortion drug RU 486, which has resulted in the deaths of at least 13 women worldwide, and potentially dozens more, as well as the injuries to at least 1,100 women in the U.S. as of 2006 FDA figures.

The report found 199,000 of the reported abortions, or roughly 16% of the total, involved the mifepristone abortion drug and that total represents a 24 percent increase in usage from the 2005 numbers.

O’Bannon said those numbers alarmed him because of the large number of women who have ended up hospitalized with hemorrhages, ruptured ectopic pregnancies, or serious infections, which have proven deadly on occasion. 

“RU-486 not only goes after a whole new customer base with the false promise of an easy, safe alternative to surgical abortion, but its increased use lets the abortion industry shift to a method that that requires less overhead to administer, thereby adding to their ever-increasing bottom line,” Dr. O’Bannon noted.  “With the median cost of $490, Guttmacher found for a chemical abortion, the new method represents more than $97.5 million in gross revenues for an industry already making hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Looking at the number of abortion businesses, the new figures do confirm the trend pro-life advocates have seen around the nation of a move towards larger abortion centers and the consolidation of smaller ones, as the number of abortion centers doing 5,000 abortions or more annually rose 50 percent since the last Guttmacher report.

O’Bannon also said the report found an increase in the number offering abortions after the midway point of pregnancy (generally considered 20 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period or LMP). Twenty-three percent offered abortions after 20 weeks LMP, compared to 20% in the 2005 report; eleven percent offered abortions after 24 weeks LMP compared to just 8% three years earlier.  This translates to at least 350 providers who offer these late abortions.

“Pro-abortion advocates have long said that they want abortion to be ‘rare.’ Yet, sadly for mothers and their unborn children, it is clear from these latest findings that abortion remains a big business in the United States and that the abortion industry is continually working to increase both their reach and their bottom line,” he concluded.

Some states saw notable increases or decreases in abortions — with a 13 percent drop in Wisconsin while abortions in Louisiana rose 38 percent as people began returning to the state following Hurricane Katrina.

The new Guttmacher information was based on responses from 1,525 abortion practitioners out of 2,344 surveyed and it included data from state health departments that provide comprehensive abortion reporting and other sources.