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Confusing CDC and Guttmacher abortion figures do not change that the number of abortions continues to go down

by | Nov 30, 2018

By Dave Andrusko

There are certain “givens” in discussing abortion statistics that likely will never, ever change. That includes an error of omission: that the percentage of abortions performed in the “hard cases”—typically when the mother’s life is at risk, or in cases of rape and incest, or fetal anomaly—is a tiny fraction of the 900,000+ abortions performed each year in the United States.

One of those “givens” that crops up around Thanksgiving each year is the confusion caused by the numbers reported by the Center for the Disease Control (CDC). Newsbusters’ Katie Yoder does a nice job this week explaining why unsuspecting readers can misread what the numbers are saying.

Put briefly, sometimes knowledgeable people look at the CDC’s numbers and believe that they are truly representative of the totality of abortions. They are not, and the CDC readily acknowledges such.

The CDC is essentially a prisoner of the willingness of state health departments to report abortion data. Obviously some are more thorough than others while three states don’t send the CDC any numbers. For that and other reasons (which both Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon and I wrote about), its total of 638,169 abortions for 2015 can be both startling and misleading.

By contrast the Guttmacher Institute, the in-house think-tank for the Abortion Industry, is not passive. It aggressively seeks out information from what it describes as “all U.S. facilities known or expected to have provided abortion services.” Thus its total for 2014 of 926,000 abortions is much closer to the truth.

Two other quick points.

*Both sets of data demonstrate a welcomed decline in the number of abortions—down 2% in the CDC figures for 2015 and 3% in the Guttmacher figures for 2014. As Dr. O’Bannon said, in commenting on the latest CDC numbers, “Clearly abortion is considerably less common than it has been since abortion became legal throughout the nation. As a reference point, in 1980 the abortion rate was more than twice that– 25 per thousand– the largest figure CDC ever reported.”

*As Dr. O’Bannon has also explained, that does not mean that the CDC data is not very useful. It most certainly is. The CDC breaks out abortions by many demographic categories, allowing us to see which communities are hardest hit by the abortion plague.

While it’s sometimes easy to confuse exactly what Guttmacher and the CDC are analyzing, the wonderful conclusion is the same: fewer American women are choosing abortion.

Tags: abortion