According to a study from the pro-abortion WeCount coalition, the number of abortions in the United States fell by 10,000 in the first two months following the Dobbs decision in June 2022 that overturned the infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion across the United States. While Dobbs did not recriminalize abortion, it permitted states that had “trigger” laws that would come into force when Roe was overturned or passed new pro-life laws that ban abortion or severely curtail it, to protect human life in utero.
According to the datafrom WeCount, the total national numbers conceal the fact that in states where abortion became illegal, there were 22,000 fewer abortions, while in states that promoted abortion – including trying to attract abortion tourism by targeting women in states that ban or restrict abortion – saw the number of surgical and chemical abortions increase by 12,000. The net result is a total decline of 10,000, or six per cent in total abortions committed. WeCount’s Ushma Upadhyay said the data demonstrates that neighbouring states have not “absorbed” the full previous demand for abortion in states where it became illegal or difficult to obtain an abortion.
Brad Mattes, president of Life Issues Institute said of the WeCount study, “The dark cloud of abortion until birth foisted upon America is finally being dispersed after nearly 50 years. We rejoice that so many babies were spared a brutal death at the hands of the abortion industry.” The Life Issues Institute said in a statement that it “also rejoices that women and men will be spared from the emotional and physical turmoil that often follows abortion.”
If you extrapolate from the two-month data, it suggests a net saving of preborn life from abortion of 60,000 per year. But delving deeper into the monthly totals suggest the number could be higher. The number of preborn lives saved from abortion was higher in August than July after more pro-life laws took effect (7400 compared to 3600) and extrapolating the larger number over the course of 12 months suggests nearly 90,000 lives could be saved from pro-life laws enabled by the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List is even more optimistic. Based on the reduction of abortions tracked in 19 states in the first 100 days after the Dobbs decision, it said pro-life laws, “are anticipated to protect as many as 200,000 unborn children annually.”
Economist Philip Levine argues in his 2007 book, Sex and Consequences: Abortion, Public Policy, and the Economics of Fertility, that the number of abortions is likely to fall even further as people change their sexual behaviour in response to abortions becoming more difficult to obtain, and therefore pro-life laws should lead to fewer unexpected pregnancies. Levine’s thesis is that easy access to abortion is a form of “insurance” against the downside risk of pregnancy and when that insurance is removed people react rationally by reducing sexual activity that would lead to pregnancy.
According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, 43 pro-life laws were passed in 2022, banning abortion, restricting it after some point during the pregnancy (such as six or 12 weeks), or placing limits on the practice such as waiting periods or informed consent regulations. State-level data is not yet available for most jurisdictions for 2022.
Preliminary Texas state health data, however, has shown that since June 2022, the number of abortions has dropped 99 per cent in Texas, and in the month of August the state recorded no elective abortions and three medically necessary abortions. In August 2021, the month before the state’s heartbeat bill which made abortion illegal after a heartbeat was detectable at six weeks, there were 5,706 abortions in Texas, but by June 2022, the last month under which Texas hospitals and doctor’s offices operated under the Roe regime and the heartbeat law, the state reported 2,596 abortions according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. After Dobbs, Texas enacted a total ban on abortion with only health of the mother exceptions.
Texas Right to Life estimates 50,000 unborn babies have been saved from abortion since the state heartbeat law went into effect in September 2021 and then after the total abortion ban went into effect in July 2022. The organization tweeted, “Official report shows there were only 3 abortions reported in TX in August 2022, all due to medical emergencies. We still have work to do to stop illegal abortions, especially pills trafficked over the border (and) online, but this shows life-saving progress.”
While there is evidence to suggests that some women travel to other states where abortion is legal such as New Mexico or obtain illegal abortion drugs through the mail, the dramatic drop in reported legal abortions illustrate that pro-life laws do save a significant number of preborn babies from both surgical and chemical abortions.
Research has shown that even where abortion is legal, when an abortion facility is closed nearby alternatives only capture some of the slack in demand for abortion. Thus, Operation Rescue’s report that found 88 abortion facilities closed their doors in 2022 – most after the Dobbs decision – is to be greeted as a life-saving development, even with the growing preference for the abortion pill over surgical abortions.
The Operation Rescue report by Cheryl Sullenger and Sarah Neely stated, “Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey on June 24, 2022, the landscape of abortion in the U.S. has dramatically changed.” The nationwide survey conducted by Operation Rescue in October and November found that there were 683 abortion facilities in 36 states and the district of Columbia, “the lowest number of abortion facilities in the U.S. in nearly five decades.”
In total 88 abortion facilities closed their doors – mostly in states where abortion became illegal – the highest number since 2013 when 93 closed. Nearly one in six (16) abortion mills that closed were owned by Planned Parenthood. Texas (23), Tennessee (six), and Alabama (five) had the most abortion facilities close.
At the same time, 53 new abortion businesses opened, mostly in so-called Blue States (states in which Democrats controlled both the governor’s mansion and both houses of the state legislature), resulting in a net decline of 36 abortion facilities in the U.S.
Eight in ten abortion facilities that ceased operations did solely or primarily surgical abortions while two-thirds of the new abortion businesses commit fetal homicide solely through abortion pills, facts that confirm the trend toward the ubiquity of the abortion pill.
In 1991, there were 2,176 abortion businesses in the U.S., and since then more than two-thirds of them have closed their doors. Sullenger and Neely said, “There can be no doubt that the pro-life movement is winning the long battle to end abortion.” Operation Rescue president Troy Newman said, “The falling number of abortion facilities translates into lives saved.”
The Operation Rescue report states “14 states are considered Abortion-Free”: Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. (Although abortion remains legal in North Dakota, no abortionist operates within the state.)
Operation Rescue said it expects more abortion-free states as various legislatures “take up pro-life legislation to ban or strictly limit abortions.”