NRL News

Yes, there have been well over 54 million abortions since 1973

by | Mar 21, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-Life Cong. Chris Smith (R-NJ)

Variations of  “The Fact Checker” or “PolitiFact” or “Truth-O-Meter” have popped up in a number of newspapers and other places. Some are better—far better—than others, and, obviously, the degree to which any one of these sources correctly assesses the truth of a particular claim varies from item to item.

In Tuesday’s New Jersey Star-Ledger, PolitiFact New Jersey Editor Caryn Shinske cranked up the paper’s “Truth-O-Meter” and gave a “mostly true” to New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith’s assertion in a House floor speech that there have been “well over 54 million abortions have had abortion forced on them [since 1973].”

How did Ms. Shinske reach that verdict?

“Smith’s number came from a report from the National Right to Life Committee, a group that opposes abortion. The committee’s total is based on data collected by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that advocates on issues of sexual and reproductive health. The institute told us it’s tracked about 49.3 million abortions through 2008. Assuming the annual total of 1.2 million abortions annually continued through 2011, the total would be near 53 million. That’s below Smith’s figure of “well over” 54 million abortions.”

FYI: the Guttmacher Institute does “advocate,” but its advocacy is strongly pro-abortion. Worth noting, don’t you think?

Two things. First, Guttmacher provides the best abortion numbers because it reaches out directly to abortionists asking for data. (The CDC, by contrast, is a passive receptor of abortion data from central health agencies.) But even Guttmacher admits there are abortions it probably doesn’t capture with its surveys.

Which is why, second, there is a reason—a very good reason—National Right to Life’s Department of Education says  “well over 54 million abortions” since 1973: Guttmacher itself has suggested for years that some small “providers” have been overlooked in its surveys and that the actual number of abortions is somewhere between 3% and 4% higher (and possibly higher since the advent of chemical abortions).

Guttmacher, though,  just reports the numbers it gets from its surveys, and so does not add the 3% (or more) it thinks their surveys missed over the years. NRL tries to get a handle on the cumulative number of abortions, the total number of lives lost, since the advent of Roe v. Wade and nearly 40 years of abortion on demand.

PolitiFact’s slight disagreement appears to be over whether to add the estimated 3% (or more) when trying to come up with a cumulative total, since Guttmacher does not add those back in. By giving a “mostly true” ranking to Cong. Smith’s statement, however, PolitiFact is admitting either that there is some real data and a rational explanation for our claim of there being well over 54 million abortions or that the process we used must have gotten us pretty close.

To quote the NRLC Education Department  in its “Abortion Statistics: United States Data and Trends,”

“Using GI [Guttmacher Institute] figures through 2008, estimating 1,212,400 abortions [annually] for 2009 through 2011, and factoring in the possible 3% undercount GI estimates for its own figures, the total number of abortions performed in the U.S. since 1973 equals 54,559,615.”

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Categories: Abortion