How Many Abortions Performed Since 1973?

How many abortions altogether have there been since the Roe v. Wade decision? Given that there are disagreements over numbers and that there are abortionists who do not report, a precise figure is hard to come by. Nevertheless, we can use the numbers we do have to arrive at some pretty close estimates of the total number of children lost to abortion since 1973.

NRLC typically uses the numbers reported by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) to compute its totals. Unlike the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), AGI surveys abortionists directly rather than passively accepting what is sent to it. Therefore AGI's totals are both higher and more accurate.

AGI, however, does not conduct its survey every year. This makes it necessary to develop projections for the non-reporting years based on trends shown in CDC reports. This is possible because, although they have different base numbers, CDC and AGI figures roughly track one another, generally increasing or decreasing by similar percentages.

The last AGI numbers are for 1996. Totaling all of AGI's figures 1973-1996, the number of abortions through 1996 is 35,316,203. To bring that figure up through the end of 1999 requires several steps.

The first step is based on the fact that the CDC reported a 3% drop in the number of abortions between 1996 and 1997. Since AGI reported 1,365,730 abortions in 1996, we arrive at an estimated number of abortions in the U.S. for 1997 at 1,324,758 (the 1996 figure minus 3%). That would raise the figure through 1997 to 36,640,961. But what about 1998 and 1999? To be conservative, we will assume that figure did not decline further - - that the number of abortions for 1998 and for 1999 was the same as for 1997. Under that scenario, AGI's figure would show a total of 38,146,094 abortions from 1973 to 1999 (36,640,961 plus 1,324,758 x two).

Even that figure is incomplete. As AGI itself admits, it is not able to tally all abortions. If one factors in the additional 3% of abortions AGI says may be missed due to underreporting, the total figure since 1973 rises to 39,290,477.