What’s behind the numbers?

ve8QAd   |   February 07, 2014


It’s all about saving lives. No matter what role you play in the pro-life movement, the bottom line is that everything we do is a concerted effort to save mothers and babies from the horror of abortion. In that vein, I have encouraging news—the US abortion rate has dropped to its lowest level since 1973. And, there’s a strong likelihood, we’ll see that number continue to decrease in the coming years.

This week, a report was released from the Guttmacher Institute (a pro-abortion research group with ties to Planned Parenthood). The study consisted of data obtained directly from abortion facilities for the time period of 2008-2011. The rate of abortion per 1,000 women age 15-44 is down to 16.9. This is a dramatic decrease from a high of 29.3 in 1980. And it’s comparable to the rate of 16.3 from 1973, when abortion-on-demand was legalized. The total number of abortions also declined by over a third from 1.6 million in 1990 to 1.06 million in 2011.

Why has the abortion rate decreased? That’s a question that’s been met with mixed answers and controversy. Pro-abortion Guttmacher denies there’s a link to pro-life legislation, claiming their study predates most legislative measures. It’s true that pro-life legislation surged to record high numbers between 2011-2013. (I can only imagine the impact this will have in the coming years.) However, measures that had already passed at the state level are proving effective. For example, in Kansas, abortions are down by 35 percent. This coincides with the enactment of laws requiring pre-abortion counseling and ultrasounds, parental consent requirements for minors, restrictions on abortions beyond 20 weeks and protective regulation measures regarding abortionists. Since so many pro-life laws have passed in the last three years, we’re hopeful to experience further decreases in the abortion rate in the future.

Yet, pro-life legislation is only one aspect. Life Issues Institute has long held the belief that pro-life education is the foundation on which legislative and political victories are built. Our approach is focused on three areas: sharing information about pregnancy and fetal development; exposing the truth about abortion and promoting life-affirming values.

  • Education about life within the womb is critical. Since the advent of the ultrasound, we’ve had a window to the womb, giving us a visual of the developing baby. We’ve learned that the heart begins to beat by 18 to 28 days after fertilization. When a woman, at risk for abortion, sees her baby’s heartbeat via ultrasound, it can be life-saving for the unborn child. Recent studies have proven that the preborn child can feel pain by 20 weeks. Previous studies show it’s much earlier. This has resulted in the passage of protective legislation limiting abortion past the 20-week mark. When we educate about fetal development, it upholds the humanity of the unborn child.
  • It’s also critically important that we voice the truth about abortion. It has remained hidden by political correctness for far too long. Abortion should be exposed for the gruesome process that it is. Women deserve to know the truth about Planned Parenthood. It’s not a health clinic; it’s a money-making giant in the abortion industry. Pro-abortion advocates have also minimized the emotional grief and regret that occur after an abortion. Both women and men can suffer devastating consequences. Increasing awareness about these issues will help to save lives.
  • Our role is also to champion life-affirming values. We can do this by promoting abstinence. Young people need to know that there’s an alternative to the “anything-goes” sexualized culture. Through education, we can lead them to make choices that are healthy, both physically and emotionally. Another way we can affirm life is by supporting adoption. It’s estimated that less than two percent of mothers choose to make an adoption plan for their child. We need to reach out to at-risk mothers and be willing to share how adoption is a loving option.

The struggle to end abortion must be fought in many battles within differing segments of society. Pregnancy help centers are on the frontlines, working to save innocent human life within the womb, one precious baby at a time. Political action committees labor to elect pro-life candidates. Advocacy groups rally for legislation that will stand in the gap to protect vulnerable mothers and their babies. Educational campaigns strive to reach and enlighten the public to the reality of abortion and why life is the choice everyone can live with.

Each pro-life effort to end abortion is a piece of an enormous puzzle. Together, they build a beautiful picture of life without abortion. Ultimately, our goal is to foster a culture of life where unborn babies are protected by law and abortion becomes unthinkable in a civilized society.


Working together for LIFE,
Bradley Mattes
Life Issues Institute

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