In the first State of Abortion report released since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the National Right to Life League provides a snapshot of the post-Roe legal landscape now that “the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.” They also analyze the latest abortion statistics from the Guttmacher Institute and the CDC. Note that the most recent figures are for 2020, which covers the beginning of the pandemic but does not yet show the impact of the Dobbs decision.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, the total number of abortions reported country-wide increased from 916,640 in 2019 to 930,160 abortions in 2020. The abortion rate also went up from 14.2 to 14.4 abortions per thousand women of reproductive age. The numbers have been increasing for the past three years, reversing the three-decades long decline in abortions reported since 1991. The number of abortion providers has also increased from 1,587 in 2017 to 1,603 in 2020. Abortions in California have increased 16% between 2017 and 2020.
Chemical Abortions on the Rise
Government regulations on distribution have been steadily loosening since the pandemic, so it’s no surprise that the number of chemical abortions is climbing. By 2020, these accounted for more than half of all abortions. The CDC reported that 53.4% of abortions recorded in 2020 were chemical abortions, while Guttmacher reported a similar 53%.
Chemical abortions are becoming increasingly widely available. In 2020, the FDA temporarily suspended distribution regulations in response to the pandemic. The abortion pill could be obtained through the mail without an in-person medical exam or follow-up appointments. However, the Biden administration made this suspension permanent in 2021, and many online providers have since cropped up. Most recently, following even more loosening of regulations, Walgreens and CVS have announced that they will start dispensing the first abortion drug in the chemical abortion protocol, mifepristone, in their pharmacies.
Furthermore, heavy lobbying of pro-abortion groups have changed the public’s perceptions of abortion. Chemical abortion is promoted as being “safer than tylenol”, despite the fact that thousands of women have been injured and more than two dozen have died after attempting chemical abortions. One U.S. study (Upadhyay, 2015) put the complication rate for these at 5.2%. There are also concerns that failed chemical abortions, and complications and deaths prompted by these deadly drugs, will not be recognized and reported. This will especially be the case if women or their partners do not reveal their use of the drugs to doctors at the emergency room when they seek treatment.
It’s clear that chemical abortion is the new frontier in the fight for protection of life from conception to natural death.
The report details the history of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents direct federal funding of abortion, and the steps the Biden Administration has taken in 2022 to circumvent it. The Hyde Amendment has received bipartisan support for over 40 years and has saved over an estimated 2.5 million lives.
In August 2022, President Biden signed an executive order (EO) that pressures the Secretary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to use his authority to waive certain provisions of Hyde Amendment. No state has received such a waiver as yet.
In fall of 2022, the administration disregarded a longstanding statutory prohibition on taxpayer funding for abortion at the Veterans Affairs and issued a new rule that includes funding abortion for health reasons. The undefined reference to health will mean as in Doe v. Bolton that abortions can be done for virtually any reason.
In October 2022, Biden’s Department of Defense (DOD) published a memorandum directing the DOD to pay the travel and transportation costs for military members and dependents to travel to obtain elective abortions.
Equal Rights Amendment
Also included is an in-depth look at the attempt by pro-abortion groups to replace Roe by adding the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) into the U.S. Constitution. The ERA language proposed by Congress in 1972 could be construed to invalidate virtually all limitations on abortion, and to require government funding of abortion. The ratification deadline for the ERA expired on March 22, 1979, however ERA revivalists have urged that Congress adopt a joint resolution purporting to retroactively “remove” the ratification deadline.
Read the full report for a detailed history of abortion legislation, and a deep dive into national abortion statistics.