New Abortion Data Shows Abortions Increasing, Thankfully Dobbs Will Save Babies

National   |   Michael New Ph.D.   |   Dec 5, 2022   |   11:38AM   |   Washington, DC

This week, the Guttmacher Institute released its 2020 Abortion Provider Census. It contains updated U.S. abortion data from both 2019 and 2020. The data indicate that both the number of abortions and the abortion rate increased by approximately 1 percent in 2020. According to Guttmacher, abortions increased in 32 of the 50 states and in all four geographic regions. Unfortunately, for pro-lifers, the Guttmacher data appear to be both more thorough and more reliable than the recent CDC data, which found a slight abortion decline in 2020.

Indeed, a comparison between the CDC data and the Guttmacher data demonstrates the weakness of federal abortion-reporting requirements. Forty-seven states reported data to both the CDC and Guttmacher in 2020. In these 47 states, the CDC counted approximately 114,000 fewer abortions than Guttmacher did — an undercount of more than 16 percent.

In some states, there were extremely large disparities between the CDC data and the data reported by the Guttmacher Institute. For instance, in New York the CDC reported approximately 47,000 fewer abortions than Guttmacher — an undercount of more than 42 percent. Similarly, the CDC indicates that approximately 25,000 fewer abortions took place in New Jersey than did the Guttmacher data — an undercount of more than 52 percent. Overall, future pro-life presidential administrations should find ways to improve the reliability and accuracy of CDC abortion data.

There are some other important lessons that can be learned from these statistics. Specifically, public policy continues to matter. The last abortion facility in Missouri, the St. Louis Planned Parenthood, quit performing abortions in 2020. Unsurprisingly, abortions fell by 89 percent in the Show-Me State. Also, Maine, whose state Medicaid program started covering elective abortions in 2020, saw abortions increase by 13 percent — the fifth-highest increase of any U.S. state.

Both the CDC data and the Guttmacher data show that there has been a recent increase in chemical abortions. According to Guttmacher, the number of chemical abortions increased by 44 percent between 2017 and 2020. Additionally, the share of all abortions that were chemical abortions increased from 39 percent to 53 percent during the same time. Some of this recent increase was likely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it should be noted that chemical-abortion numbers had been consistently increasing well before 2020.

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Indeed, expanding access to chemical-abortion pills has been a long-term strategy for supporters of legal abortion. For part of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Food and Drug Administration allowed women to obtain chemical-abortion pills without an in-person medical exam. Tragically, the Biden administration FDA has continued this policy, which will result in the deaths of countless unborn children and have negative health consequences for many women. Pro-lifers should applaud the recent lawsuit filed by Alliance Defending Freedom to revoke FDA approval of mifepristone, the drug used in chemical abortions.

Overall, this summer’s Dobbs decision created exciting opportunities for pro-lifers to legally protect preborn children. Pro-lifers have made impressive short-term progress as the preborn are now protected in 13 states. Additionally, other states will likely enact protective pro-life laws in the future. However, this Guttmacher report provides powerful evidence that pro-lifers have plenty of work to do. Indeed, pro-lifers need to step up our educational, service, and legislative efforts to combat this increase in abortions, particularly chemical abortions.

LifeNews Note: Michael J. 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. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New