In 1992, the Guttmacher Institute estimated that 43 percent of women of child-bearing age would undergo an abortion during their lifetimes based on the abortion rate (the number of abortions per 1,000 women) and survey information. This would mean close to 1 in 2 women would have abortions at some point in their lifetimes.
That estimate never materialized.
Pro-abortion groups frequently try to use statistics like these to normalize abortions. But even those statistics are telling a different story. Before the latest revision, the estimated lifetime incidence of abortion was updated in 2008 to 30 percent of women, or 3 in 10, which was rounded up to 1 in 3 for national pro-abortion campaigns — a claim that has been debunked. Yet abortion advocates continued to run with the numbers, until last fall, when they had to revise them again… this time, to 1 in 4.
“1 in 4” is an estimate of the lifetime incidence of abortions for women between the ages of 15 and 45. However, the estimate is not static. It comes from a 2017 revision of the Guttmacher Institute’s numbers. A closer look highlights the declining abortion rate, and the fact that women do not need to undergo abortions to succeed, contrary to what abortion advocates claim.
What is behind this change? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of abortions in 1992 was 1,359,145, while in 2008, 825,564 abortions were reported — a significant decline. From 2008 to 2014, there was a continued decline, with the CDC reporting 652,639 abortions for 2014. The difference between 2008 and 2014 represents a 25 percent decrease. The 2014 numbers are a historic low. The steady decline in the overall number of abortions, and consequently, the abortion rate, has led to the revision of the lifetime incidence statistic to 1 in 4.
The Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, predictably points to increased use of more effective birth control as the reason for the decline in abortions. The implication is that Planned Parenthood supplies birth control, which then decreases the number of abortions women receive. But complete information on unintended pregnancies is difficult to assess, and Planned Parenthood itself has actually reported a decrease in its contraceptive services. And, of course, a decrease in other health services, as well:
One thing is clear: Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion business, is not necessary for women’s health.
Planned Parenthood supporters continue to argue that eliminating Planned Parenthood will increase abortions. A good test case for this alarmist theory is Texas, which excluded Planned Parenthood and all other organizations that commit abortions from the state family planning program in 2011. Statistics show that from 2011 to 2014, there was a significant decrease in abortions in Texas, as was the case nationally; yet, as Michael New argued, there was no evidence of an increase in the rate of unintended pregnancies.
While the abortion industry continues to claim that abortions are necessary for women’s success, the ongoing decline of the number of abortions has been paralleled by unprecedented educational and professional advancement for women. The numbers used by pro-abortion groups in an attempt to normalize abortion actually show why women don’t need it.