LIFE NEWS - Michael New Ph.D. - NOV 28, 2022
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released abortion data for the year 2020. This new data contain some good news for pro-lifers. Among the 47 states reporting abortion data in both 2019 and 2020, the number of abortions decreased by 1.5 percent. After a long-term decline, the CDC reported increasing abortion numbers in both 2018 and 2019. And so this 2020 abortion decline is welcome news.
Between 2019 and 2020, there was considerable amount of state-level fluctuation in abortion numbers. Even though there was an overall reduction in the incidence of abortion in 2020, abortions increased in 29 of the 47 states that reported data. Interestingly, state-level Covid-19 policies appeared to play a significant role in the incidence of abortion in many states.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, five states — Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas — quit performing abortions at various points during 2020. In four of the states, abortion numbers fell. In particular, the number of abortions fell by 24 percent in Oklahoma. 8.2 percent in Louisiana, and 4.9 percent in Alabama. This shows that policies preventing abortions from being performed have a real impact.
Interestingly, New York saw its abortion numbers fall by more than 19 percent. That might have been due to the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic. It might have also been due to many residents of New York living elsewhere for large parts of 2020. Also, the lone abortion facility in Missouri, the St. Louis Planned Parenthood, quit performing abortions in 2020. Not surprisingly, only 167 abortions were performed in the Show Me State, a decline of more than 88 percent.
One finding from the CDC report that should concern pro-lifers is the large increase in chemical abortions. From 2019 to 2020, the number of chemical abortions increased by 17.9 percent. Overall, the share of all abortions that were chemical abortions from rose 43.7 percent to 53.4 percent during that period. Part of the increase is likely due to the fact that some women who would have obtained surgical abortions opted for a chemical abortion during the Covid-19 pandemic.
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However, it should be noted that for a long time supporters of legal abortion have been promoting chemical abortions as a way to expand access to abortion. For part of the Covid-19 pandemic, the FDA allowed women to obtain chemical-abortion drugs without an in-person medical examination. The FDA under the Biden administration tragically reinstituted that policy. This is something that pro-lifers should combat through both legislation and litigation.
Not surprisingly, the CDC report also reveals ongoing weaknesses in abortion-reporting requirements in the United States. The report fails to include abortion data from either California or New Hampshire. Neither state has reported abortion data to the CDC since 1997. Similarly, the CDC report also does not include data from Maryland, which has not reported data to the CDC since 2006. Furthermore, some states failed to break down their abortion data by gestational age of the preborn child, the mother’s race, or the mother’s marital status. Additionally, multiple states failed to provide data about the method of abortion that was used.
Overall, since the Dobbs decision, pro-lifers have made a considerable amount of progress. Preborn children are now legally protected in 13 states. However, this 2020 CDC report highlights some of the substantial, long-term progress pro-lifers were making even before Dobbs. According to this CDC data, the U.S. abortion rate fell by more than 20 percent since 2010. Overall, pro-lifers have succeeded in reducing the abortion rate by approximately 50 percent since 1980. The long-term decline in the U.S. abortion rate is very solid evidence of the positive impact of pro-life service and educational and legislative activities.
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