Abortion Rate Drops to Its Lowest Level Since 1973 as More Babies Saved From Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 3, 2014   |   11:19AM   |   Washington, DC

As the pro-life movement has passed pro-life laws nationwide in record numbers, a new report released today shows the abortion rate has dropped to its lowest level since 1973. That means more unborn children are being saved from abortion than ever before.

The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, a former research arm of Planned Parenthood, released the report on the abortion rate today — noting that it declined to 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 in 2011, well below the 1981 peak of 29.3 per 1,000 and the lowest since 1973 (16.3 per 1,000).

picabort“Between 2008 and 2011, the abortion rate fell 13%, resuming the long-term downward trend that had stalled between 2005 and 2008. The number of abortions (1.1 million in 2011) also declined by 13% in this time period,” it reported.

Guttmacher noted the decline comes in advance of the passage of a slew of new pro-life laws nationwide and the record levels of abortion clinic closures pro-life groups have been able to obtain — which will likely push the abortion numbers in a downward direction even further.

“While the study did not specifically investigate reasons for the decline, the authors note that the study period (2008–2011) predates the major surge in state-level abortion restrictions that started during the 2011 legislative session, and that many provisions did not go into effect until late 2011 or even later. The study also found that the total number of abortion providers declined by only 4% between 2008 and 2011, and the number of clinics (which provide the large majority of abortion services) declined by just 1%,” the study noted. “Beginning in 2011, state efforts to restrict abortion have surged, according to Guttmacher research. States enacted 205 abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013, more than in the entire previous decade combined.”

guttmacher10While the abortion rate has declined, Guttmacher indicated usage of the abortion drug has increased.

“While the overall abortion rate continued to decline, the proportion of abortions that were early medication procedures continued to increase. An estimated 239,400 early medication abortions were performed in 2011, representing 23% of all nonhospital abortions, an increase from 17% in 2008. The study estimated that 59% of all known abortion providers offer this service,” it said.

The study also found that abortion rates dropped in all four U.S. regions and in all but six states during 2008–2011: Declines were steepest in the Midwest (17%) and the West (15%), and less steep yet noteworthy in the South (12%) and Northeast (9%). Notably, the few states in which abortion rates increased had rates lower than the national average to begin with.

Leading pro-life advocates were delighted by the news.

“That abortion rates and numbers continue to decline is heartening because it shows that women are rejecting the idea of abortion as the answer to an unexpected pregnancy,” said National Right to Life President Carol Tobias. “This latest report from Guttmacher shows the long-term efforts of the right-to-life movement to educate the country about the humanity of the unborn child and to enact laws that help children and their mothers are having a tremendous impact.”

Tobias said the Guttmacher report attempts to downplay the impact of pro-life legislation during the period covered by the report.
“However this ignores the significant educational impact of the public policy debate surrounding pro-life legislation. Pro-life legislative efforts at the federal and state levels dating back to the 1980s have established legal protections for unborn children and their mothers. They have also increased public awareness about the impact of abortion by prompting discussion of such topics as the development of the unborn child, the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion, and the gruesome partial-birth abortion procedure,” she indicated.
Tobias said a very recent example of the public policy debate came in 2010, when Nebraska became the first state to enact the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a groundbreaking law that provides protection for unborn children capable of feeling pain, beginning at 20 weeks fetal age. While the Nebraska legislature was considering the bill, a nationwide debate about the capacity of unborn children to feel pain began and once again refocused the country’s attention to the fact that abortion takes the life of a living human being.

“In other example, Guttmacher cites the state of Illinois, which saw an 18% decline in abortion numbers even though the state didn’t enact any pro-life legislation during period covered by the report. This neglects, however, that the state’s parental notice law, which had been enjoined since its passage in 1995, was once again in the news in 2009 and 2010 – precisely during the study period – and again prompted a public discussion and debate and parental involvement in a minor daughter’s abortion decision,” the NRLC president said.

“The legislative efforts of the right-to-life movement, and significantly, the resulting national debate and educational campaigns surrounding pro-life legislation should not be minimized when discussing the decline in abortion numbers,” Tobias noted. “The more Americans learn about the development of the unborn child and the tragedy of abortion, the more they reject abortion as a legitimate answer to an unexpected pregnancy.”

The numbers and statistics released today by Guttmacher largely lines up with the estimates published in National Right to Life’s The State of Abortion in the United States, 2014 issued last month. Those estimates were calculated based on recent data from the CDC and previous reports by the Guttmacher Institute. When the numbers from this most recent Guttmacher report are included in totals from previous years, National Right to Life estimates that since abortion was legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 twin decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, there have been more than 56 million abortion performed in the United States.

Guttmacher found that the abortion rate – that is, the number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 – has reached a low of 16.9, the lowest it has been since 1973.



The Guttmacher report also revealed the abortion ratio was 21.2 per 100 pregnancies ending in live birth or abortion, showing that pregnant women were more likely to choose life for their unborn children than at any time before abortion was legalized in 1973.

Tragically, however, this abortion ratio means that that still more than one in five children conceived in the United States are killed by abortion.

“While overall fewer unborn children are being killed by abortion, the Guttmacher report tragically finds that more than one in five pregnancies ends in abortion and takes the life of a living unborn child,” Tobias noted. “The right-to-life movement must continue its efforts to protect these children and their mothers from the tragedy of abortion and our society must do a better job in providing life-affirming alternatives.”