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Rise in U.S. abortion rate is disappointing as potential pro-life victory looms on the horizon

Jonathon Van Maren

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 After years of consecutive decline in the U.S abortion rate, a new government report from the Center for Disease Control indicates that things may be changing for the worse with the release of abortion numbers for 2019.

The new numbers, says pro-life statistician Dr. Michael New, “should both concern and disappoint pro-lifers. Among the 47 states (plus the District of Columbia) in 2018 and 2019, the number of abortions increased by 1.7%. This is the second year in a row that the CDS has reported an abortion increase. Overall, the number of abortions increased in 24 of 27 states that reported data in both 2018 and 2019.”

Abortion activists have been using the COVID-19 pandemic to mainstream the use of abortion pills, and New says that chemical abortions have made up much of the increase, rising “by a whopping 12.5% between 2018 and 2019.” These numbers indicate a trend, with the CDC reporting two straight years of an increase of chemical abortions topping 10%.

Worse still, says New, “as of 2019, 43.7% of all abortions in the U.S. are chemical abortions.” That said, there are important lessons for the pro-life movement contained in the new CDC numbers — lessons that should be encouraging. “Public policy continues to have a significant impact on the incident of abortion,” New told me. “In 2018, West Virginia voted to quit funding abortions through their Medicaid program. Abortions fell 21% in 2017. Also in 2018, Missouri became one of only a small number of U.S. states with one abortion facility. Abortions in the Show-Me State fell by 49% between 2018 and 2019.”

“Conversely,” New noted, “Illinois started funding abortions through Medicaid in 2017. For the second year in a row, the CDC data indicated that abortions increased by more than 9% in Illinois.”

Despite these findings, New says that the CDC report is still incomplete. “It does not include abortion data from either California or New Hampshire. Neither state has reported abortion data to the CDC since 1997. Similarly, the report also fails to include data from Maryland, which has not reported data to the CDC since 2006. Furthermore, not every state broke down their abortion data by either gestational age or the method of abortion that was used.”

Despite this disappointing — and heartbreaking — news, New says there is a silver lining. “The short-term increase in the abortion rate is certainly cause for concern, but pro-lifers should still remember that we still have made impressive long-term progress reducing the incidence of abortion. According to Guttmacher, the abortion rate has declined by over 50% since 1980. According to the CDC, the abortion rate has declined by 20% since 2010. Legislation is not the only reason abortion numbers are falling, but it has played a role.”

“As such,” New concluded, “pro-lifers should take heart. Oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will start on December 1. This case involves the constitutionality of a law that would protect pre-born children after 15 weeks’ gestation in Mississippi. A favorable ruling in this case would allow pro-lifers to build on these long-term gains.”

In short, these numbers are tragic because they represent more lives lost to abortion. With that said, pro-lifers must remember that our efforts have borne much fruit, saved many lives, and that the end of Roe v. Wade may be in sight. If that turns out to be the case, many more laws can be passed right across America, dramatically reducing the legality of abortion and saving untold thousands of lives.