Report on Abortion Released : Abortions Remain at 1.2
Million for 2008
Part Two of Three
By Randall K.
O'Bannon, Ph.D. NRL Director of Education & Research
wish that abortions had continued the decline seen over
the past two decades, the good news from the latest
abortion statistics is that, despite the heavy promotion
of the abortion industry, the numbers haven't really
gone back up.
A new report
released today by the Guttmacher Institute (formerly a
special research affiliate of Planned Parenthood),
"Abortion Incidence and Access to Services in the United
States, 2008," found that for 2008, the number of
abortions remained essentially level with the numbers it
reported for 2005--its last published survey. The report
found 1.212 million abortions in 2008, compared with
1.206 million abortions in 2005, the difference
accounted for by abortions from previously uncounted
abortion "providers" discovered since the 2005 survey.
Thanks to pro-life
education, legislation, and outreach, as well as
concerted efforts to offer women positive, practical,
life-affirming alternatives to abortion, abortions began
to decline twenty years ago. They decreased from 1.6
million in 1990 to 1.2 million by 2005, a drop of 25%.
But anyone who
thought that the abortion industry would stand idly by
while their empire crumbled was sadly mistaken. As women
began to turn away from abortion, they launched an
aggressive campaign to recast the image of abortion and
Women told the
industry that they were uncomfortable with surgical
abortion, with the cutting, the scraping, and with its
possible effects on their future fertility. They found
the whole procedure frightening and intimidating.
In the late 1980s,
the industry began developing RU486, a chemical
abortifacient that promised (falsely) to make abortion
safe, simple, and easy. That pill was approved in the
U.S. in September of 2000, in the waning months of the
Clinton administration, and the industry went to work
marketing it to both women and doctors.
The latest report
shows that that promotional effort had an impact. At
least 199,000 of the 1,212,400 abortions performed in
the U.S. in 2008 were what the report calls "medication
abortions"--chemical abortions involving RU486 (94%) or
methotrexate (6%), another chemical abortifacient. This
is nearly 38,000 more of these abortions than Guttmacher
recorded in its study of 2005.
RU-486 not only
goes after a whole new customer base with the false
promise of an easy, safe alternative to surgical
abortion, but its increased use also lets the abortion
industry shift to a method that requires less overhead
to administer, thereby adding to their ever-increasing
bottom line. With the median cost of $490, Guttmacher
found for a chemical abortion, the new method represents
more than $97.5 million in gross revenues for an
industry already making hundreds of millions of dollars.
Some of these
women would probably have had surgical abortions if
chemical abortions were not available, but it is not
unrealistic to believe that a significant number would
likely have chosen to carry their babies rather than
endure the surgery.
The report also
found at least 1,793 abortion "providers" in the United
States. Significantly, among these, it found an increase
in the number offering abortions after the midway point
of pregnancy (generally considered 20 weeks after the
woman's last menstrual period or LMP). Twenty-three
percent offered abortions after 20 weeks LMP, compared
to 20% in the 2005 report. Eleven percent offered
abortions after 24 weeks LMP compared to 8% three years
industry has also spent millions to modernize and
refurbish their offices, hoping to attract a broader
(and wealthier) clientele with giant new megaclinics
with decorator colors and furnishings. Bringing in the
best graphics people in the business to design websites
and develop marketing campaigns helps create an image of
the industry as vibrant, modern, and hip.
All these factors
have an impact, borne out by data from the report.
that there were 164 facilities that offered chemical,
but not surgical abortion. Conceivably, these could be
places that once offered surgical abortion but gave it
up when the new product showed up. More likely is that
these are places where abortions were not offered
before. As many readers know, several places in Iowa,
some in rural or suburban places where there has never
been an abortion clinic before, are now offering web-cam
chemical abortions in which a doctor, miles away, clicks
a button on a computer to open a drawer containing
abortifacients at the woman's location.
decreases in numbers often boil down to local factors.
Illinois' abortion totals increased by nearly 4,000 from
2005 to 2008, a time frame that just happened to
coincide with the opening of a $7.5 million, 22,000
square foot mega-clinic in Aurora by Planned Parenthood
in 2007. The abortion rate for the state rose by 9%,
even while the rate in many neighboring states was going
All during this
time, however, many of these clinics were kept alive by
funding from local, state, and federal governments. This
explains not only the tired old call for more "family
planning funding" at the end of Guttmacher's report, but
also the latest move, in an era of "health care reform,"
to identify abortion as a "legal, needed and basic
health care service."
battle has long featured the struggle between the
culture of life and the culture of death. Our side has
made considerable progress, dropping the number of
abortions in the U.S. by a quarter. The other side has
launched a significant counteroffensive to hold their
turf. This report shows us that they have had some
To see those
numbers decline again, we will have to help people
understand that the new chemical abortions are still
abortions, that they are difficult and dangerous, that
they take the lives of unborn children and put the lives
of their mothers at risk.
We will have to
help them see that for all the decorator colors, new
bricks, shiny steel, the new clinics are still killing
centers run by the same crew selling the same product –
We will need to
continue to make clear that every abortion stops a
beating heart, that each abortion is an assault on our
humanity, that every abortion impoverishes us all, that
there is, and there must be, a better way.
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