Millions Could Lose Their 'Right' to Abortion, Millions More Have Lost Their Right to Life

December 16, 2021

In the aftermath of the oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, many abortion advocates are concerned that millions of American women across multiple states could lose their "right to abortion" if Roe v. Wade is overturned. One article recently published by the Hill declared that 65 million women in 20 states are at particular risk of losing this "right," given their states' high probability of restricting abortion in the absence of Roe.

This article's assertion is very misleading for a few reasons. One, the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee a "right" to abortion (the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Roe permitted legalized abortion on the basis of a faulty "right to privacy"). Second, not all of 65 million women in those 20 states would be "immediately" and directly affected by what their respective state decides to do or not do in the event of Roe being overturned. The use of the "65 million" number with little context is undoubtedly meant to generate alarm. Third, like so many other arguments in support of a "right" to abortion, it completely ignores the right to life currently being denied to so many unborn girls and boys in the womb.

Let's take a moment to consider the second reason why the assertion "[m]ore than 65 million American women would immediately lose access to an abortion in their home states" if Roe were overturned is misleading. According to 2019 data made available by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 65 million is a reliable estimate of the number of women living in the 20 states cited by the Hill article. However, it should be noted that not all of these women are of childbearing age (generally prescribed as 15-44 years old). In these 20 states, there are roughly 24.5 million women of reproductive age. Presumably, these are the women who would be affected by any changes to abortion law. But not even all women of reproductive age can or ever do become pregnant.

Pregnancy rate data is difficult to come by, but according to a 2009 study, the pregnancy rate per 1,000 women of reproductive age was 102.1. This means roughly one in 10 women of reproductive age are likely to become pregnant in a given year. If we apply this rate of pregnancy to the women of reproductive age in states likely to ban abortion, only 2.5 million women are likely to become pregnant in a given year. Furthermore, only seven percent of those women are likely to choose abortion. So, if abortion were banned in all 20 of these states, only 2.5 million women (not 65 million) would be "immediately" affected, and only seven percent of those 2.5 million would have been likely to choose abortion. These numbers paint a very different picture than the "65 million" in the attention-grabbing headline.

Noticeably absent from the media's fear-mongering is any mention of the millions of unborn girls and boys who stand to lose their right to life if Roe is upheld. Even legal scholars like to ignore this fact, but the reality is every time a women exercises her "right to abortion" that directly results in the denial of the right to life for an unborn child. In 2019 alone, 213,644 innocent unborn children lost their right to life in the 20 states surveyed. Although this number might seem small relative to the number of women who could have gotten an abortion but didn't, it is merely a reflection on the pro-life laws and culture of these 20 states. In past decades, these states have passed pro-life laws like ultrasound requirements and pain-capable abortion bans and have seen an increase in pro-life pregnancy resource centers. This is not the case in states like Illinois and New York, which have recently repealed pro-life legislation and have abortion rates of 18 and 20, respectively.

Looking at the historical abortion numbers in these states paints an even grimmer picture. Ever since Roe, an estimated 6.8 million baby girls have been denied the right to life in these 20 states, yet the loss of the right to life for these girls is completely ignored by those championing "reproductive freedom" (i.e., abortion). Looking at the complete picture shows that a shocking 13.5 million unborn children have been denied the right to life in these states since Roe.

Data and numbers like this help to conceptualize the impact laws have on people. A headline like "65M women could lose abortion rights in Supreme Court case" might be an attention-grabber, but when the facts are truly presented, it serves as a sobering reminder that in 20 states, a combined 13.5 million innocent children have been killed in the womb, all under the guise of "abortion rights." Each one of these 13 million children was unique, with characteristics of their mother and father. Each life was snuffed out before they even had the chance to be born.

The prevalence of abortion represents a monumental failure of our country to uphold the truth that "all men are created equal" and "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights," including the right to life. It is high past time that our Supreme Court do what is necessary and overturn one of the most erroneous rulings of its history. The Roe v. Wade decision was wrong in 1973, and if they could speak, the millions of unborn children who were denied the right to life in the ensuing 50 years would tell you that Roe is still wrong today.