The Declining Number of Abortions

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director of Priests for Life
December 17, 1997

Once again, we have received the joyful news of a decline in the numbers of abortions in the United States. Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta released a report on abortions performed during 1995, the last year for which statistics are currently available.

I say joyful news, though fully aware that both within and outside of the pro-life movement, the explanations for the decline will vary, along with all their corresponding arguments. Suffice it to say that if fewer babies are being destroyed by the single greatest disaster in the history of our nation, namely, legal abortion, then I rejoice. At the same time, I do not cease reminding people that this tragedy still claims some 4000 lives a day. We should also note that the CDC merely receives abortion statistics from those agencies reporting to them, rather than actively seeking them. That is why CDC numbers will be somewhat lower than those from other sectors.

Regarding the explanations, however, it is noteworthy that the very author of the report, Lisa Koonin of the CDC, mentions a change in attitudes toward abortion as one of the reasons for the decline.

I am not surprised.

I see it all the time. At Priests for Life, we have learned by experience in every one of the 50 states that the more priests preach against abortion, the more lives are saved. We have a wealth of testimonies to prove it, and give priests a wealth of suggestions on how to make those sermons work.

Another reason which the study stated for a decline in abortions is a decrease in access to abortion services. For some time now, this has been a deeper concern of the abortion-rights people than the legality of abortion. Just read their newsletters. Without access, they argue, what good is Roe v. Wade?

Good point.

There are various reasons for a decrease of access. For one thing, fewer doctors want to provide abortions, and those who do so--only a couple of thousand right now--are getting older, grayer, and more tired, some of them traveling to several states in the course of a week to perform the procedure. (This is one of the reasons for the frenzied push to chemical abortions.)

Another reason is the growth of alternatives to abortion and the increasingly effective efforts of the pro-life movement to make those alternatives known. Pro-life media campaigns that focus on the internal state of mind of the pregnant woman more than on the child are having a profound effect. Meanwhile, crisis pregnancy centers are making the wise move of upgrading themselves to medical facilities, thus attracting more abortion-bound women. Nor should we ignore the impact of peaceful pro-life prayer vigils outside abortion facilities.

Before abortion is made illegal again, which I believe will happen within my lifetime, we have to bring the numbers down. It's happening. Let's keep doing the things that make it happen, and let's rejoice as we do them!

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