There are several pieces of good news to share this week about the battle over abortion in the United States.
The first is that, despite the relatively mediocre showing of the Republicans in the midterm elections, the Democrats still lack the votes necessary to push their radical abortion agenda legislatively.
As I told you a few weeks ago, President Biden had vowed that if the Democrats gained additional votes in the Senate, his administration would push for the legislative codification of Roe. If the Democrats were able to do this, it would be a catastrophe for the unborn, making it even more difficult for individual states to protect the rights of the innocent unborn.
However, in a recent press conference during the G-20 summit in Indonesia, Biden was asked about abortion, and admitted that there is no hope for codifying Roe during the rest of his term. “I don’t think there’s enough votes,” Biden stated. Asked what voters could expect when it came to the issue of abortion, Biden replied, “I don’t think they can expect much of anything.”
“I think we’re going to get very close in the House, but I don’t think we’re going to make it,” Biden added. And indeed, the final results of the midterms show that Republicans have regained control of the House (albeit by a slim margin), which effectively stymies any efforts by the Democrats to pass abortion-related legislation.
And while Democrats control the Senate, this is also by the slimmest possible margin. Meanwhile, some moderate Democrats, such as Joe Manchin, oppose getting rid of the filibuster rules to attempt to ram through any abortion legislation. Which all means that the unborn are safe, for the next two years at least, from any effort to reinstate Roe in law.
Abortion Rate Dropped in 2020
The second piece of good news is that newly released data shows that the abortion rate dropped in 2020.
In the United States the abortion rate has been dropping more or less consistently since its peak in the early 1980s. However, that trend showed a worrying reversal in 2018 and 2019, when the number of abortions increased for the first time in years.
However, in 2020 the number of abortions once again dropped by 1.5%.
As pro-life statistician Dr. Michael New notes in the National Review, it seems as if state-level abortion restrictions played an important role in reducing the number of abortions. Although the overall number of abortions in the U.S. dropped in 2020, trends at the state level were uneven. In 29 of the 47 states that reported abortion data, the number of abortions actually increased.
However, the increases in these 29 states were offset by significant decreases in other states. As Dr. New notes, during the pandemic, five conservative states stopped performing abortions altogether for a period. In four of those states, the number of abortions dropped significantly. This included a stunning 24% drop in Oklahoma, as well as an 8.2% drop in Louisiana, and 4.9% in Alabama. Dr. New argues that “this shows that policies preventing abortions from being performed have a real impact.”
Surprisingly, however, the data also shows a significant 19% drop in abortions in New York State. Now, New York has one of the most liberal abortion regimes in the country. So, what caused this decrease?
This is a harder question to answer, but Dr. New points out that New York was hit particularly hard by the COVID pandemic in 2020. It’s possible that given long lockdowns, pregnant New Yorkers simply couldn’t access abortions. As well, many New Yorkers left the state, and it’s possible that they got abortions in some of the other states that experienced increases.
But even if that is the case, the good news remains that overall, the U.S. saw fewer abortions than previous years. Hopefully this trend downward will continue.
Post-Dobbs Abortion Drop
Which brings me to the third piece of good news. I’ve written in recent months that the data is showing a significant drop in abortions since the reversal of Roe v. Wade, which was brought about by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision earlier this year.
More and more data are emerging showing just that. Once again, we can turn to Dr. New for the best analysis.
As he wrote earlier this month, recent data from the Society of Family Planning show that there were 10,000 fewer abortions in June and July in the U.S. than would have been expected – a 6% decrease! That’s 10,000 unborn children that are alive today, who otherwise would have been killed by abortionists, thanks to the reversal of Roe. What an amazing reality to contemplate.
But as Dr. New argues, it is very likely that the data from the pro-abortion Society of Family Planning actually understate the impact of the reversal of Roe, and recent pro-life laws in general.
As he points out, the dramatic drop in abortions began even prior to the Dobbs decision. Last year, Texas had passed its “Heartbeat Act,” which bans abortion after about 6 weeks. Defying expectations, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed that law to stay in place during legal challenges, even before the Court overturned Roe. According to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services, in the first month of the law’s passage, abortions dropped by over 60% in the state!
Some abortion supporters have argued that much of this drop in abortions in Texas was offset by women obtaining abortions in other states or ordering abortion drugs online. However, an analysis by the Charlotte Lozier Institute disputes this claim, which is based upon data provided by abortionists. The Charlotte Lozier analysis found that between March 2022 and July 2022, there were an estimated 5,000 additional children born in Texas, thanks to the Heartbeat Act!
In other words, contrary to the claims of abortionists, many pregnant women in Texas did indeed carry their unborn children to term after the passage of the Heartbeat Act, saving thousands of lives.
While there is plenty of good news to go around, however, there is certainly no lack of challenges either.
One of the challenges is the rapid growth in so-called “medical” abortions. These are abortions that are committed through the two-drug cocktail known as RU-486, a medication used to induce a miscarriage in a pregnancy less than 10 weeks. Mifeprex (mifepristone) is used in combination with misoprostol. A decade ago, such abortions only constituted a minority of all abortions in the United States. Now, however, they make up a majority of all abortions.
The problems with medical abortions are myriad. In the first place, they kill an unborn child, like every abortion. Secondly, they put women’s health at risk. In many cases women taking the drugs undergo the abortion at home, alone. This can lead to deeply traumatic experiences, in which women lose their unborn children because of an artificial miscarriage, coming face to face with the reality of abortion. And there have been cases of dangerous hemorrhages in women.
Lastly, and worryingly, it is fairly easy for abortion providers to bypass pro-life laws, mailing abortion drugs to women in states or nations where abortion is illegal. Even prior to the reversal of Roe, many abortion organizations made it clear that their strategy, should Roe be overturned, would be to find ways to smuggle abortion drugs across state lines, making it easy for women to illegally abort their unborn children. And indeed, as Truthout reports, online abortionists targeting women with abortion drugs are “proliferating” in the wake of the reversal of Roe. The practice has become so common, and so aggressive, that even the Biden administration’s FDA has warned that it has gotten out of hand, potentially posing serious dangers for the health of women.
In 2020, the medical abortion rate rose 17.9%, as abortionists exploited the pandemic to normalize this method of abortion. This increase has been aided and abetted by the Biden administration, which has loosened restrictions surrounding abortion drugs, allowing them to be prescribed online and sent through the mail.
The other main challenge, of course, is that arguably the most pro-abortion U.S. President in history is still in office. So long as the Biden-Harris administration remains in power, the Democrats are going to seize every opportunity that they can to use executive power to promote abortion domestically and abroad.
One way that Biden is seeking to promote abortion in the U.S. is by passing regulations allowing the government to pay for women living in pro-life states to travel elsewhere for abortions. For decades, the Hyde Amendment has prohibited government funding of abortion. However, the Biden administration is arguing that the Hyde Amendment only prohibits paying for the actual abortion procedure, and that paying for the travel in order to obtain the abortion is not prohibited. In August, Biden signed an executive order allowing Medicaid funding for abortion-related travel.
As a pair of writers at The Hill put it,
This is like saying a school cut funding for basketball (“no school funds shall pay for any basketball”), but then turning around and saying it could still pay for the team’s uniforms, practice space, coaches or, for that matter, bus ride for the team to play a basketball game across state lines. Paying for the basketball team’s uniforms, practice space, coaches and bus ride to a basketball game is effectively paying for basketball. Likewise, paying for travel to receive an abortion is effectively paying for abortion.
And yet, the good news for the pro-life movement is that the Biden administration is finding itself forced to try such deceptive tactics to promote abortion. With Roe overturned, and the Hyde Amendment still in place, the administration is left playing games, exploiting holes in the increasingly pro-life legal consensus.
Moreover, we should pay very close attention to not only what the Biden administration is doing in the U.S, but also how it is leveraging its power to advance abortion abroad, as discussed in a recent Federalist article by Elyssa Koren. Here, she explains how the Biden administration remains persistent in its efforts to incentivize developing countries into overturning their laws and policies on abortion. The good news is that many countries are rejecting these attempts.
The abortion rate in the U.S. has fallen 20% since 2010, and 50% since 1980. This is, without a doubt, in significant measure due to the heroic efforts of the many pro-life heroes who have fought day after day to end Roe, and to reach out to and support individual women in crisis pregnancies. The momentum is on our side. Tens of thousands of unborn children are being saved from abortion every year.
As we celebrated Thanksgiving last week, I gave thanks for these many pro-life successes. And I gave thanks for you, our supporters, who are part of this fight with us. Thanks to your support, life is winning. With the momentum on our side, let us not ease up, but rather redouble our efforts to create a Culture of Life. Lives and souls depend upon it.