Abortion Statistics
United States, 1973-1996

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These are the most recent statistics available as of this writing -- February, 1999.

Percentage of Babies Killed by Abortion

United States, 1973-1996

See table below for raw numbers.

30%
20%
10%
  1973 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995

Abortions, US, 1973-1996

Year Abortions per 1000 women1 per 100 babies2
1973 744,600 16.3 19.3
1974 898,600 19.3 22.0
1975 1,034,200 21.7 24.9
1976 1,179,300 24.2 26.5
1977 1,316,700 26.4 28.6
1978 1,409,600 27.7 29.2
1979 1,497,700 28.8 29.6
1980 1,553,900 29.3 30.0
1981 1,577,300 29.3 30.1
1982 1,573,900 28.8 30.0
19833 1,575,000 28.5 30.4
1984 1,577,200 28.1 29.7
1985 1,588,600 28.0 29.7
19863 1,574,000 27.4 29.4
1987 1,559,100 26.9 28.8
1988 1,590,800 27.3 28.6
19893 1,566,900 26.8 27.5
19903 1,608,600 27.4 28.0
1991 1,556,500 26.3 27.4
1992 1,528,900 25.9 27.5
19933 1,500,000 25.4 27.4
19943 1,431,000 24.1 26.7
1995 1,363,700 22.9 26.0
1996 1,365,700 22.9 26.1
Notes
1. Number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 through 44.
2. Number of abortions per 100 babies conceived. (Not counting miscarrieages.)
3. Data estimated. (Interpolated from prior and future years.)

Discussion

As the chart shows, the percentage of babies being killed by abortion is falling steadily. The rate increased dramatically when abortion was legalized -- no surprise there -- peeked about 1980 to 1983, and has been decling slowly since. On the other hand, as you can again see from the chart, the drop is not very dramatic. At least, it is not very dramatic as a percentage. But even a small percentage drop works out to a large number of babies: 200,000 fewer babies were aborted in 1996 than in 1981.

It is difficult to say just what is causing it. It may be that the pro-life movement is showing some success in convincing women not to abort their children. It is surely fair to give the crisis pregnancy center movement at least some credit. Pro-abortionists often blame the declining number of physicians willing to become abortionists and hospitals willing to perform abortions. Whether this is because pro-lifers have managed to make abortion a less socially aceeptable profession, or whether physicians have come to the conclusion that this is unsavory work on their own, either way lives are saved. Or it may be a side-effect of larger trends. For example, the rate of teen pregnancy is declining. (And what is causing that trend is a whole different question.)

Partial-Birth Abortion Statistics

With Congress and the nation debating partial-birth abortions, Guttmacher added some questions to their usual survey to collect some statistics on this abortion method.

"Partial-birth abortion" was a term that was invented by Congress for the purposes of legislation. The only method of abortion in common use which meets Congress's definition is what abortionists term "Dilation and Extraction (D&X)", "Intact Dilation and Evacuation (Intact D&E)", and various other terms that describe essentially the same method. (Congress invented a new term rather than using the terms already in use so that they could define it generally, and an abortionist could not circumvent the law by making minor modifications to the technique and giving it a new name.)

In their survey, Guttmacher found only 8 abortionists who admitted using this method, for a total of 363 abortions in 1996 and 201 in the first half of 1997. As their surveys do not include all abortionists in the country, they estimate from this that a total of about 14 abortionists comitted about 640 D&X's in 1996.

On the other hand, an abortionist in California has admitted that he did 65 third-trimester abortions per year, and most of these appeared to be D&X's. The inventor of D&X says that he himself has committed 1000 of them. And a reporter for The Record in Hackensack, NJ, found one cinic there that performed 1,500 D&X's in one year. There may be quibbles over the exact definition of what a D&X is, or perhaps abortionists are understating the numbers to avoid bad publicity.

Guttmacher also asked how far into pregnancy abortionists did D&X's. They found that most were between 20 and 24 weeks. Only two abortionists reported using this method before 20 weeks, and four after 24 weeks. The latest was 33 weeks.


Source: Henshaw, Stanley K. "Abortion Incidence and Services in the United States, 1995-1996". Family Planning Perspectives, 30:6, Nov/Dec 1998.

Counts of abortions are based on the Guttmacher Institute's survey of abortionists. Guttmacher is a strongly pro-abortion organization. Their counts are typically about 10% higher than government figures, because they are based on direct reporting by friendly organizations, while the government numbers come indirectly through state health departments, with varying degress of vigor in pursuit of complete numbers.

Number of women of child-bearing age comes from US Census figures. Numbers of births come from the National Center for Health Statistics (a US government agency).


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Posted 16 Sep 2000.

Copyright 1999 by Ohio Right to Life
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