According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), abortion numbers, rates, and ratios have all been on the decline. The CDC reported a total number of 664,435 abortions in 2013, as recorded by state health departments. The 2013 data is based on reported information from 47 states and does not include abortion data from California (since 1998), Maryland, and New Hampshire. Therefore, the actual number of abortions is higher than the CDC data lets on.
The most recent study from the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s former research arm, reported 1.06 million abortions in 2011. Guttmacher obtains its abortion data from abortion facilities directly instead of using reported state department numbers. Regardless of whether one looks at the CDC or the Guttmacher data, they both agree that there is a general downward trend in abortion numbers. Global Life Campaign data also reveals that abortion numbers have been in a general decline since 1990.
According to the CDC data, compared with 2012, the total number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions for 2013 decreased by 5%. From 2004–2013, the number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions also decreased 20%, 21%, and 17%, respectively, reaching their lowest level across the board for that time period. Additionally, the abortion rate for 2013 was 12.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years, about half of the 1980 recorded rate. The Associated Press reported that the CDC has not recorded a lower abortion rate since 1971, two years before the Roe v. Wade landmark decision.
Family Research Council posits the decline in the abortion numbers, rates, and ratios to advances in science which reveal the humanity of the baby, a growing pro-life public, and a decrease in sexually-risky behavior with the help of sexual risk-avoidance (SRA) education.
First, not only do we now have 4D ultrasound technologies that reveal the humanity of the child, but new technologies are continually coming out such as 3D imaging showing the complex anatomy and organ systems of embryos as young as 15 days old. Scientific advancements also allow us to see facial expressions in-utero and to track fetal pain.
Second, the majority of Americans are pro-life. A July 2016 Marist poll revealed that more than half of Americans (53%) believe that abortion should only be allowed in cases of rape, incest, to save the life of the mother, or never be permitted under any circumstance. Further, we have seen an unprecedented uptick of pro-life laws in the past five years alone—334 pro-life laws as of midyear 2016—accounting for 30% of all pro-life laws enacted since 1973.
Third, there has also been a sharp decline in teen sexual activity, according to the most recent CDC data. This may be due in part to sexual risk-avoidance education, which takes a whole-person approach to healthy decision-making.
While the CDC abortion data is encouraging, we must continue to work until not one more life is tragically snuffed out by the ravages of abortion.