We have seen figures from the US Center for Disease Control purporting to show that abortions did not drop during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush, but dropped during the Clinton years. Some, therefore, conclude that the Democrat administration was really more “pro-life” than the Republican ones. I have devoted the last thirty years of my life to this issue, have lectured and published internationally, allow me to comment and show that such quoted statistics are incomplete and such conclusions are faulty.
When considering abortions, we find two different reporting groups in the United States. One is the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) which publishes the reported statistics from states if and when the states send in their data. In fact, at least a dozen states do not send the data, and this includes California. Accordingly, the CDC reporting is not representative of the entire nation. The Guttmacher Institute report is the one everyone relies on. It interrogates every known abortion facility in the United States, first by mail, and then at least two more times by phone. Accordingly, it reports far more abortions than the CDC, and has done so consistently over the last thirty years. I, therefore use Guttmacher statistics.
Starting at 744,000 and 898,000 abortions in 1973 and in 1974 respectively, by 1980 there were 1,553,900 induced abortions reported in the United States. This held essentially at that level through the 1980s, reaching a peak of 1,608,600 in 1990. It then began a steady but slow decline. In 1993, it was 1,495,000. In 1998, it was 1,319,000. In 2002, it was 1,293,000. In 2006, it was estimated to be 1,287,000. During this time, the CDC figures also mirrored these except consistently being smaller and less consistent.
The cause for this drop has been plainly evident. Until 1990, the US Supreme Court had struck down any laws that in any way, shape or form regulated or limited abortions. Therefore, during the 1990s, the number of abortions slowly declined. This was not a Republican or Democrat thing; it was due to the Supreme Court.
In the early 1990s, the Supreme Court’s Casey Decision opened things up and allowed restrictive abortion laws to be passed, which the states promptly began to do. The most effective one has been requiring the parents of a teenager daughter to be notified and/or to approve of the abortion. The second most effective state law has been requiring informed consent from the pregnant women herself. Additional laws, which have also been limiting abortions, include requiring health and hygienic inspections of abortion facilities equivalent to those for ambulatory surgical centers. This put some of the really shoddy abortion mills out of business. Various state laws require certain other information to be given to the woman, require her to be exposed to the ultrasound pictures of her baby, and more.
It was the progressive passage of these protective laws that cut down the number of abortions during the 1990s by almost twenty percent. It had nothing to do with who was president. In fact, the president during these years, Mr. Clinton, had pledged to make abortion “safe, legal and rare,” but it actually turned out to be more like “safe, legal and everywhere,” for he did absolutely nothing to limit abortions.
In the past decade, the controversy over partial-birth abortion and the increasing percentage of pro-life young people has served to continue the slow decline in abortion numbers. All of this has occurred in the face of an increasing population of women of pregnancy age.
If elected, a presidential candidate who has pledged to pass FOCA (the Freedom of Choice Act) would reverse every single one of the abortion restrictions mentioned above. This would include cancelling the Hyde Amendment and again providing federal money for abortions, domestically and overseas. If in fact this comes to pass, we will find the number of abortions skyrocketing and all of them paid for by your taxes.
I hope the above statistics on abortion will correct any misconceptions that others may have.