Bonnie Chernin
Abortion by the numbers
By Bonnie Chernin
November 4, 2019

It's been a very good year for the pro-life movement. Despite the negative press downplaying the impact our efforts are making to drive down abortion numbers, the fact is pro-life activism is helping save more babies now than ever before.

These gains are an achievement and have been a direct result of pro-life workers and resources available to pregnant women. There has been a significant decline in the number of abortions since 1973. The Guttmacher Institute published their latest abortion data in a September 2019 report, "Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States." The information covered in this report includes data and abortion trends for the years 2011 through 2017, and an analysis of changes in national, regional and state abortion rates.

The Guttmacher Institute receives its data directly from abortionists and abortion facilities so is considered to be the most reliable. In 2014, there were 926,190 abortions committed in the United States, dropping to below one million for the first time since 1973.

According to this latest Guttmacher Institute report, in 2017 the number of unborn babies killed by abortion was 862,320, a 7% drop from 2014. The number of U.S. abortions had dropped to below one million in 2014 for the first time since 1973. Current statistics would seem to show a continuation of that long-term trend.

Another key statistic indicated in the current report is the U.S. abortion rate. In 2017, abortions declined to 13.5 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. This is the lowest abortion rate since 1973, when Roe v. Wade mandated legal abortion nationwide.

The decline in the number of abortions is in due in large part to the commitment and continued work of pro-life advocates who faithfully show up to protest at abortion clinics and hand out literature to pregnant women. Activists and citizen journalists infiltrate abortion facilities and record their findings with investigative footage, providing videotaped evidence about dismemberment abortions late into pregnancy and the sale of baby body parts for profit.

Pro-lifers present the facts about the dangers pregnant women face due to the increasing number of clinics that fail to meet minimal health and safety standards. Clinics are closing. As Life Dynamics Founder Mark Crutcher points out in his pamphlet, The Pact, in 1992 there were over 2,100 abortion clinics in America. Today, there are fewer than 600 abortion clinics. And while over 800,000 abortions annually is still an atrocious number of dead children, we must remember that every single baby saved is a victory for the pro-life movement. Every baby counts!

The number of abortions peaked at 1.6 million in 1990. Today, that number is cut by half. That is a remarkable achievement considering all the ACLU lawsuits against pro-life legislation in states that try to implement them.

Pro-life pregnancy resource centers have proliferated throughout the United States offering abortion alternatives for women seeking their services. In December of 2017, reported that there were 2,700 pro-life clinics nationwide, compared to 739 abortion clinics. The number of pro-life pregnancy resource centers continue to grow giving pregnant women life-affirming alternatives to abortion.

In their current international pro-life prayer campaign, 40 Days For Life president and CEO Shawn Carney has reported saving 371 babies so far, and as of this writing, the vigil is currently in day 36 and still underway. 40 Days For Life is doing amazing work to save unborn children and change people's hearts and minds to become pro-life.

The commercial success of pro-life films like Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer and Unplanned have proven that when people have access to pro-life materials, information and education, they are willing to learn more about the facts of pro-life.

Despite these successes, the pro-abortion media has been diminishing the critical role pro-lifers have played in the abortion rate decline. The Guttmacher Institute credits increased contraceptive use as the primary factor in reducing abortions, and not pro-life laws or state abortion restrictions.

Dr. Michael New is assistant professor at the Busch School of Business at Catholic University and an associate scholar at The Charlotte Lozier Institute. He is a pro-life researcher and follows long term trends in abortion statistics, whereas The Guttmacher Institute report only covered the period between 2011 and 2017. Dr. New's analysis extends over a longer period and his data points toward flaws in Guttmacher's analysis. One of the most important factors ignored is the change in the unintended pregnancy rate:

The main problem with their analysis is that they are only considering data from between 2011 and 2017. Six years is a relatively short amount of time to properly analyze changes in demographics, public attitudes, or public policy. When one looks at longer-term data, a key factor in the 53 percent decline in the U.S. abortion rate between 1980 and 2017 is because a higher percentage of unintended pregnancies are being carried to term.

Guttmacher's own data shows that almost 54 percent of unintended pregnancies resulted in an abortion in 1981. That figure fell to 42 percent by 2011 – the most recent year we have data. If a higher percentage of unintended pregnancies are being carried to term, that means that pro-life efforts to (A) change hearts and minds, (B) assist pregnant women, and (C) enact protective pro-life laws have all been successful. [1]

The Charlotte Lozier Institute released the key findings of a recent publication indicating that pro-life pregnancy centers serviced two million people! Pro-lifers who are discouraged and feel their efforts are not making a crucial difference must read the 2018 full report: A Half Century of Hope, A Legacy of Life and Love. Highlighted in this report are two manufacturers of Mobile medical units (MUs), Save the Storks and Image Clear Ultrasound. These two organizations help pregnant women by offering them professional services and partnering with pregnancy resource centers, saving thousands of babies from abortion.

From the conclusion in the Charlotte Lozier Institute report, here are the indicators of the international growth of pregnancy resource centers and their accomplishments:

Compassionate pregnancy center support now stretches around the world. Care Net has 66 affiliates in Canada. Heartbeat International, with its longtime international focus on life-affirming pregnancy help, has 1,120 affiliates in 61 countries on all six inhabitable continents. Finally, LIFE International, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has equipped over 12,000 leaders in 87 nations on six continents to multiply the message of life. Pregnancy center outreach continues to increase at home in the United States and around the globe, promoting better health outcomes for women and family well-being.[2]

That's an impressive track record helping mothers in need of care and life-affirming options. Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers and their volunteers are not only saving babies, but the fact that Planned Parenthood and pro-abortion politicians are relentlessly trying to undermine and shut them down is proof that the pro-life movement is winning.


[1] Jonathon Van Maren. (September 27, 2019). US abortion rate has been cut in half since 1980 because of pro-life efforts: Researcher [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

[2] The Charlotte Lozier Institute. A Half Century of Hope, A Legacy of Life and Love: Pregnancy Center Service Report. Third Edition. Retrieved from:

© Bonnie Chernin


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Bonnie Chernin

In 1986, Bonnie Chernin attended her first pro-life convention where she met author Ann Saltenberger and received a copy of her outstanding book, "Every Woman Has the Right to Know the Dangers of Legal Abortion." This book inspired Bonnie to become actively involved in the pro-life movement.

In the early 1990s, Bonnie volunteered at the office of Manhattan Right to Life, and began writing letters and op-ed pieces for local newspapers on the topic of abortion.... (more)


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