Pro-life groups say it’s time for the United States to begin collecting and reporting abortion data the same way it does on other issues.
Currently, Americans rely on two sources for national abortion statistics: the Centers for Disease Control and the Alan Guttmacher Institute (the former research arm of Planned Parenthood); but there are problems with both groups’ reports. One source has a strong pro-abortion bias and the other collects data voluntarily, which leaves gaps in its reports.
Politico reports Americans United for Life is leading the call for the creation of a national government database for abortion statistics.
AUL said the data will help present a more accurate picture of abortions in the U.S., including the types of abortions performed, the ages of the unborn children, the complications women experience and more. The pro-life group said the data will provide more evidence to support future legislation and cases such as the Texas law that the U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned.
“The abortion advocates like to talk in vague terms about abortion but we need specifics,” Clarke Forsythe, acting president of AUL, told the news outlet. “We don’t have a national abortion data collection and reporting law.”
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Here’s more from the report:
Americans United for Life’s effort is in its early stages. But the group will push Congress to pass a bill requiring physicians to report abortion rates and complications. And they’d like states to enact or improve their reporting requirements.
Leaders acknowledge a federal law is unlikely to be signed into law by Hillary Clinton, if she is elected president. But the idea is gaining traction in states with traditionally strong anti-abortion laws, including Texas.
“In the future, we’re going to need better data,” said Texas Alliance for Life Executive Director Joe Pojman, who acknowledged groups like his are likely to have a hard time pursuing new restrictions without statistics supporting their safety concerns.
One of the problems with the Centers for Disease Control reports is that states are not required to collect or report abortion data. The CDC reports show lower abortion numbers because they are missing data from California, Maryland and New Hampshire.
The most recent report from CDC shows that 699,202 abortions were performed in 47 states in 2012. However, the Guttmacher Institute, which surveys abortion clinics directly in all 50 states, reported approximately 219,000 more abortions in the three states missing from the CDC report.
Another problem is that the CDC monitors abortion-related deaths, but it does not monitor other complications, according to Politico. The CDC reported two women died from legal abortions in 2012, making the total deaths 424 since 1973 when the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade.
The CDC report even cautions people that its maternal mortality data is not complete. According to the report, its numbers “during 1998-2011 cannot be used alone to calculate national case-fatality rates … because certain states did not report abortion data every year during this period.”
In the past few years, LifeNews has reported several women’s deaths due to botched abortions. In 2015, a pro-life group in California learned that a woman reportedly died after a botched abortion in San Diego. In 2014, Lakisha Wilson died after a botched abortion at an Ohio facility; and 22-year-old Tonya Reaves bled to death after a Chicago Planned Parenthood clinic botched her abortion in 2012.
While abortion activists claim that abortions are safer than childbirth, there is little data to prove the claim. Dr. Freda Bush, an OB-GYN and clinical instructor at the University of Mississippi, said abortions can lead to serious complications or even death for women as well as their unborn babies, but many complications are not reported.
Women experiencing abortion complications after they leave the abortion clinic often go to, or are instructed to go to, the emergency room by themselves, and many are too ashamed to say that they had an abortion, Bush said during the Evangelicals for Life conference in January.
“So, we really don’t know how many abortions are being done, we don’t know how many people are dying of abortions because the numbers are not being kept,” Bush said.
While abortion activists cite their own studies claiming that abortion is safer than childbirth, other studies are finding contradictory results. Studies in Finland, Denmark and the U.S. have found evidence that abortion is not safer for women than giving birth to their children. The 2012 Denmark study surveyed nearly half a million medical records and found a significantly higher maternal death rate after abortions, compared to childbirth.