Abortion outnumbered each of the top leading causes of death in the U.S. in 2017

pro-life, Georgia heartbeat, abortion restrictions

In 2017, abortion outnumbered each of the individual top ten leading causes of death for the United States. The alarming numbers were compiled from data published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as the latest abortion data published by the Guttmacher Institute, a former “special affiliate” and research arm of Planned Parenthood. The numbers reveal that heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes (among others) — all tragic causes of death — do not individually outnumber reported deaths of preborn infants killed by a violent abortion in 2017*. In addition, had aborted preborn children (862,320) been counted as persons, they would have accounted for over 23 percent (23.4%) of resident deaths in 2017.

U.S. Abortions: 862,320

  • The Guttmacher Institute reported a total of 862,320 abortions in the U.S. in 2017.
  • CDC’s most recent data (published November 2019) revealed a total of 623,471 abortions were reported to the agency from 48 reporting areas in 2016.
  • Guttmacher numbers are more comprehensive because they gather their information directly from abortion providers; therefore, Live Action News will use the higher abortion number (862,320) for our analysis.

Leading causes of death: 

The data comes from information collected by the National Center of Health Statistics (NCHS) which is compiled from death certificates filed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It is then compiled into the National Vital Statistics System and published annually by the CDC. That 2017 report, which “presents final 2017 U.S. mortality data on deaths and death rates by demographic and medical characteristics,” found the following:

  • In 2017, a total of 2,813,503 resident deaths were registered in the United States—69,255 more deaths than in 2016…
  • In 2017, the 10 leading causes of death (heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide) remained the same as in 2016.
  • Causes of death are ranked according to number of deaths.
  • The 10 leading causes accounted for 74% of all deaths in the United States in 2017.
Image: Leading causes of death 2017 (SOURCE: NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality.)

Leading causes of death 2017 (Source: NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality.)

Abortion made up 23% of resident deaths in 2017:

If the life of each preborn child reported to have been killed from a legal abortion had been counted, not only would it increase the total of deaths to 3,675,823, but abortions (862,320) would have accounted for over 23 percent (23.4%) of resident deaths in 2017.

U.S. abortions outnumbered both heart disease and cancer deaths (2017):  

The top two leading causes of death in both 2016 and 2017 were heart disease and cancer.

  • In 2017, reported abortions (862,320) outnumbered the number one cause of death: heart disease (647,457) by 25 percent.*
  • In 2017, reported abortions (862,320) outnumbered the number two cause of death: cancer (599,108) by 31 percent.*

U.S. abortions outnumbered the remaining eight (out of the ten) leading causes of death combined (2017):  

In addition, the 2017 data reveals that reported abortions (862,320) outnumbered all other leading causes of death individually by large percentages. Even more shocking, the data revealed that reported abortions outnumbered the remaining (3-10) leading causes of death (834,966) combined. Abortion outnumbered deaths caused by…

  • Accidents (169,936) by 80 percent
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases (160,201) by 81 percent
  • Stroke (146,383) by 83 percent
  • Alzheimer disease (121,404) by 86 percent
  • Diabetes (83,564) by 90 percent
  • Influenza and pneumonia (55,672) by 94 percent
  • Kidney disease (50,633) by 94 percent
  • Suicide (47,173) by 95 percent
Image: 2017 abortions v leading causes of death (Graph: Live Action News)

2017 abortions v leading causes of death (Graph: Live Action News)

Other causes of death: 

Abortions also outnumbered the following deaths in 2017, not listed in the top ten causes:

  • Injury related deaths (all): 243,039
  • Alcohol-induced causes of death: 35,823
  • Assault (homicide): 19,510
  • Firearm related deaths – all – (includes unintentional, suicide, homicide, undetermined, legal intervention/war): 39,773

Planned Parenthood (2017):

  • In 2017, Planned Parenthood’s share of abortions (332,757) outnumbered deaths from Alzheimer disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, and kidney disease, combined.

Image: 2017 Planned Parenthood abortions v 2017 leading causes of death (Graph: Live Action News)

2017 Planned Parenthood abortions v 2017 leading causes of death (Graph: Live Action News)

Live Action News previously documented that by 2018, abortions at Planned Parenthood reached the highest ever reported (345,672 abortions) in a single year. Today, Planned Parenthood receives nearly $1.7 million dollars a day from U.S. taxpayers, while PP ends the lives of 947 preborn babies every day, at a rate of 39 per hour, or one abortion every 91 seconds.


Abortions by race/ethnicity (2016):

Live Action News previously looked at abortions by race/ethnicity versus leading causes of deaths. That abortion data, released in November 2019 by the CDC and previously analyzed by Live Action News, revealed that in 2016:

  • While Black women accounted for 38 percent of reported abortions, population estimates for 2016 show that African Americans made up just 12 percent of the population. In addition, Black abortions (236,919 estimated) outnumbered the top nine leading causes of death (235,139) for Black Americans combined.
  • Hispanics made up 18% of the U.S. population, and accounted for 18.8 percent of reported abortions. In addition, Hispanic abortions (117, 212 estimated) outnumbered the top five leading causes of deaths (111,602) for Hispanic Americans combined.

Read more on that report here, note that 2017 CDC abortion data has not been published yet.


Every human death is a tragedy and each one should be mourned. While individuals within the pro-life movement work to help many who suffer from these leading causes of death, Live Action as an organization remains focused on eliminating the violence of abortion by working to change hearts and minds so that dignity and value can be returned to every single preborn child in the womb.

*For clarification: The above comparisons do not suggest that abortion outnumbers all top ten leading causes of death combined.

“Like” Live Action News on Facebook for more pro-life news and commentary!

What is Live Action News?

Live Action News is pro-life news and commentary from a pro-life perspective. Learn More

Contact for questions, corrections, or if you are seeking permission to reprint any Live Action News content.

GUEST ARTICLES: To submit a guest article to Live Action News, email with an attached Word document of 800-1000 words. Please also attach any photos relevant to your submission if applicable. If your submission is accepted for publication, you will be notified within three weeks. Guest articles are not compensated. (See here for Open License Agreement.) Thank you for your interest in Live Action News!

To Top