On Sunday, FiveThirtyEight and the Upshot section of the New York Times covered an analysis of recent abortion data published by the Society of Family Planning. The Society of Family Planning launched a national research project, #WeCount, to obtain state-level abortion data in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.
Their researchers surveyed abortion facilities, identified abortion declines that occurred in states that enacted pro-life laws, and compared those declines with abortion increases elsewhere. The authors concluded that a total of 10,000 fewer abortions took place in June and July — a relatively modest decline, about 6 percent, in the incidence of abortion.
It is heartening that the authors of the #WeCount analysis are acknowledging that the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision reduced the incidence of abortion. That said, it should be noted that the data used in the #WeCount analysis came from abortion facilities. It did not come from state health departments or government agencies, and so there are legitimate concerns about the accuracy of this data. That said, even if we take these data at face value and assume that they are accurate, there are two important reasons why this #WeCount analysis is likely understanding the impact of state laws to protect preborn children.
First, some states were enforcing strong pro-life laws prior to the Dobbs decision. The Texas Heartbeat Act, which protected preborn children after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, took effect September 1, 2021. In its first month, the Texas Heartbeat Act reduced the number of abortions performed in Texas by more than 60 percent. Additionally, Oklahoma started enforcing a heartbeat law in early May 2022. Large abortion declines had already taken place in these states prior to Dobbs.
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Second, this analysis fails to take into account that abortion numbers were already increasing in many politically liberal states. That is partly because some blue states are making their abortion policies even more permissive. For instance, in recent years both Illinois and Maine have started to fund elective abortions through their respective state Medicaid programs. Chemical abortions have been increasing as well. Given that, not all of reported abortion increase in blue states are due to higher numbers of out-of-state women seeking abortions. Some of the increases are likely due to more abortions being obtained by in-state women.
This week, the Charlotte Lozier Institute will be publishing my analysis of Texas birth data. Between March and July of 2022, there has been a significant increase in the number of children born in Texas. This shows that the Texas Heartbeat Act has already saved thousands of lives. Overall, there is a substantial body of both policy and academic research that shows that pro-life laws reduce abortion rates and save lives. As always, pro-lifers would do well to stay the course.
LifeNews Note: Michael New is a research associate at the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America and is an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. he is a former professor at Ave maria University and University of Michigan, Dearborn.