NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–At some point during the past two years the United States experienced its 50 millionth legal abortion, the overwhelming majority of which were conducted for reasons of convenience.
The tragic statistic — which spans the 37 years since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973 — is based on data compiled by the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute and tallied by the National Right to Life Committee. Guttmacher’s data is respected by both sides of the issue and comes directly from abortion clinics.
The mark of 50 million was passed in 2008 and likely approached or reached 52 million in 2009, although data is not yet available for that year. The 50 million figure actually is an estimate based on Guttmacher data from 2005 — the last year of data — when 1.2 million abortions were performed. The abortion rate ranged between 1.2 and 1.3 million from 2000 to 2005. If the same number of abortions performed in 2005 were performed in each succeeding year, then the number stood at 52 million at the end of last year.
To put the total in perspective, the combined number of military deaths in all of America’s wars –- from the Revolutionary War to the second Iraq war –- is 1.2 million.
“We’ve been brutalized, desensitized and paganized by an ever-rising flood of the unborns’ blood as our nation continues to abort roughly one out of every four babies conceived,” Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said.
“I can still remember the Bible lesson I heard as a youngster in Sunday School about how the people of God turned their back on the One True God and went down into the Valley of Hinnom [2 Chronicles 28] to offer up in pagan sacrifice their little children to the pagan god Molech. I could never have imagined then that I would live to see the day that America would offer up its unborn children as pagan sacrifices because they were viewed as too expensive, too embarrassing, too ill or too inconvenient.”
Although pro-choice leaders often claim a solid majority of Americans support the status quo on abortion, polling paints a very different picture. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll from September 2008 showed that 10 percent of registered voters believed abortion should always be illegal and 37 percent believed it should be legal only in cases of rape, incest and to save the mother’s life — totaling 47 percent who oppose the current laws. Similarly, a Los Angeles Times poll of 1,039 registered voters in October 2007 found 50 percent believed abortion should either be totally illegal or legal only with those three exceptions.
The reason the abortion rate in America is so high is because the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling was so far-reaching. Roe v. Wade — coupled with the court’s companion Doe v. Bolton ruling — legalized abortion for any reason at any point of the pregnancy. That has led to a society in which 86 percent of abortions are done for convenience, according to a 2004 Guttmacher study of women who had had abortions. Rape and incest each were cited by less than half of a percent of all women who underwent abortion. Twenty-five percent said they weren’t ready for a child, 23 percent said they couldn’t afford to have one, 19 percent said they didn’t want any more children, 8 percent said they didn’t want to be a single mother or they had relationship problems, 7 percent said they were too young to have a child and 4 percent said they believed a child would interfere with their education or career.
The reason that some polls show Americans supportive of Roe, pro-lifers say, is because they don’t know what it accomplished. Pro-life groups this year once again are sponsoring a website — RoeIQTest.com — with 13 multiple choice questions to help educate the public about Roe’s reach.
“In spite of its impact, the true understanding of Roe and what it accomplished remains relatively vague in the public consciousness,” the website states. “The ongoing debate over federal funding of abortion in the proposed health care legislation has demonstrated that Roe continues to be a contentious issue for many Americans. It is imperative that we, as citizens, understand the facts about what Roe does and does not do.”
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.