The Guttmacher Institute recently released a report including updated abortion data from the year 2017. The report found a decrease in abortion rates between 2011 and 2017, with Guttmacher noting a fall of 20 percent. Even though the abortion rate decline was widespread, occurring in 45 of the 50 United States, Guttmacher’s claim that pro-life policies had little to do with the overall decline is not entirely accurate.
However, Guttmacher was willing to acknowledge that increased health and safety standards for abortion facilities correlated with the decline in abortion rates in some states. But the pro-choice research institute was adament that pro-life laws did not greatly impact the fall in abortion rates. They also claimed that shifts in public opinion and reductions in sexual activity had no effect on the abortion rate.
While mainstream media outlets, such as The New York Times, were quick to repeat this point, the Guttmacher Institute only analyzed data between 2011 and 2017. This is a relatively short period of time, and it does not take into consideration the fact that the U.S. abortion rate is less than half of what it was in 1980.
This data suggests that pro-lifers have had an influence on decreasing abortion rates. Since the early 1980s, there has been a long term increase in the percentage of unintended pregnancies being carried to term due to the efforts of the pro-life movement. Pro-lifers have been working tirelessly to change individual hearts and minds about abortion by offering pregnant women aid and passing protective laws. Data from Heartbeat International confirmed an 86 percent increase in the number of organizations providing pregnant women with assistance between 1988 and 2015, something that likely contributed to the amount of pregnancies being carried to term.
Pro-life laws such as limiting public funding of abortion and abortion businesses, requiring parental consent, and properly designed informed consent laws, have also been proven to be effective at reducing abortion rates.
The pro-life movement has been successful in shifting public opinion on abortion. Since the mid-1990s, Gallup surveys have shown a significant increase in the percentage of individuals who identify as pro-life. Data from the General Social Survey also shows that opposition to abortion has also gradually been increasing among young adults. Despite this, Guttmacher appears to have underestimated pro-life resources and protections, alleging that contraception mandates had more of an effect on declining abortion rates than state-level pro-life legislation.
Associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, Dr. Michael New, has cast doubt upon this claim that contraception mandates lower unintended pregnancy and abortion rates. More than half of states imposed mandates between the years of 1995 and 2010 requiring some health insurance programs provide coverage for contraceptives. The recent report from Guttmacher asserts that mandates such as this have been more successful in reducing abortion rates than the pro-life movement’s endeavors to combat abortion.
But Dr. New’s study analyzed the impact of contraceptive mandates that were in effect by the time of his analysis, conducting a comprehensive review of the public health data from nearly all 50 states. The data he collected showed that state-level contraceptive mandates “do not lower rates of unintended pregnancy or abortion.”
In regards to the 2011-2017 decline in abortion, Guttmacher did note that there may have been “an icnrease in self-managed abortion happening outside of the facility.” The abortion census conducted by the institute may not have been able to capture these numbers due to the increasing availability of abortion-inducing drugs and information about how to perform self-managed abortions online.
While reports of the number of abortions decreasing from more than 1 million in 2011 to 862,320 in 2017 are encouraging, this means hundreds of thousands of preborn children are still being lost annually to the violence of abortion. According to the most recent data from Guttmacher, nearly 2,400 innocent lives are taken every day by the abortion industry. If anything, these numbers indicate there is still much more to be done if the pro-life movement is to continue securing the right for every person to be born.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.