Many people believe that the reasons women get abortions are to save their lives or physical health, or in cases of rape and incest, or to avoid birth defects. This is a fallacy that pro-abortion groups continue to cultivate because it helps them spread abortion in nations with pro-life laws and helps them retain abortion-on-demand once they have achieved it.
0.69% of Abortions Done for the “Hard Cases”
Calculations based on statistics provided by medical journals and government surveys in the United States show the hard cases are much rarer than most people believe:
- 0.36% of abortions done to save the life or health of the mother (5,200 per year)
- 0.09% done in cases of rape or incest (1,300 abortions per year)
- 0.24% done for fetal birth defects (3,470 per year)
- 0.69% done for all the hard cases combined (9,970 per year)
- 99.31% of all abortions are therefore performed for social or economic reasons
What the Leading Pro-Abortion Research Group Says
Even the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the leading pro-abortion research group, puts the number of abortions done in the hard cases under 7%. (Guttmacher is the research arm of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the largest chain of abortion clinics in the United States.)
Guttmacher has performed several surveys that have asked thousands of women their reasons for abortion. The results of their 1987 and 2004 surveys are shown here. These surveys show that, according to the women themselves, the “hard cases” account for only 7% of all abortions.
Abortion Clinic Statistics
A survey of more than 120,000 aborting women performed by the states of Louisiana, Nebraska and Utah during the years 1996 to 2003 gives us what may be a more accurate estimate of the number of “hard case” abortions than Guttmacher’s numbers, because these are the numbers that abortion clinics must officially report in these states:
Abortion Clinics in Three States, Self-Reports: Reasons Women Get Abortions
- Total Number of Abortions: 122,083
- Rape and Incest: 273 ( 0.22%)
- Mother’s Life or Physical Health 513 ( 0.42%)
- Birth Defects 250 ( 0.20%)
- Total Hard Cases 1,036 ( 0.84%)
- All Other Reasons: 121,047 (99.16%)
Louisiana State Center for Health Statistics, Louisiana Vital Statistics Report annual reports, 1996-2000 and 1997-2001; Nebraska Health and Human Services System, “Nebraska 2001 Statistical Report of Abortions,” March 2002; Utah Department of Health. Utah’s Vital Statistics: Abortions, annual reports, 1996-2003.
So according to these self-reporting abortion clinics, only 0.84% of abortions happen in the hard cases.
Reasons Women Get Abortions Internationally
The reasons women get abortions all over the world are largely the same. In 1998, the Guttmacher Institute published the results of studies showing that lifestyle reasons also predominate among aborting women in other nations. Its summary of surveys performed in 26 countries outside the United States showed that primary reasons for aborting given by the 62,658 women interviewed.
Since rape and incest are included under “other reasons,” a maximum of 5.8% of all abortions performed in other countries are done for the hard cases, and a minimum of 94.2% are performed to preserve the mother’s lifestyle or to please those close to her.
Even people who wish to argue that the hard cases justify abortion must admit that these hard cases occur a tiny minority of the time.
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