Abortions rising post-Dobbs, report claims; pro-life researcher skeptical

Abortion rights and pro-life supporters clash outside the Supreme Court on April 24, 2024, in Washington, D.C.
Abortion rights and pro-life supporters clash outside the Supreme Court on April 24, 2024, in Washington, D.C. | Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

An abortion advocacy group has released a report claiming that the number of abortions in the United States has increased since Roe v. Wade was overturned. A pro-life researcher, however, believes the data might be wrong.

The Society of Family Planning's latest #WeCount report, released earlier this month, estimates that, despite restrictions in some states, there were, on average, 86,000 abortions performed per month in the U.S. in 2023, exceeding levels reported before the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Dobbs v. Jackson, which overturned Roe

SFP started its #WeCount effort to assess the number of monthly abortions by state after the Supreme Court overturned Roe. Its latest report also estimates there were between 87,600 and 92,640 abortions monthly from October and December 2023.

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“Excluding the roughly 8,000 monthly abortions provided under shield laws, the monthly average of abortions in 2023 was 86,000 — still higher than the monthly average of 82,000 abortions in 2022,” the report states. 

The study also reported an average of 17,000 telehealth abortions [at-home DIY abortions via a pill regime that induces a miscarriage] between October and December 2023. Nearly 8,000 women per month in states with bans or other abortion regulations obtained one from a telehealth provider in one of five states that had shield laws at the time. 

“Access to medication abortion through telehealth continues to play an ever-increasing role in abortion care nationwide — even as the Supreme Court weighs the fate of telehealth abortion care.” Dr. Ushma Upadhyay, #WeCount co-chair and professor at the University of California, San Francisco’s Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, said in a statement last week. 

“The need for [abortions] across the country demands that providers, advocates and lawmakers continue to come together to innovate new strategies to help people access abortion care." 

Michael New, senior associate scholar at the pro-life research organization Charlotte Lozier Institute and an assistant professor of social research at the Catholic University of America, told The Christian Post that there is reason for skepticism regarding #WeCount’s abortion estimates.

New noted that, prior to 2022, the SFP didn't have any experience estimating the number of abortions committed in the United States. 

“It should also be noted that they are not counting all abortions, but estimating the total number from a sample,” New stated. “This could lead to a miscount. Future data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Guttmacher should provide a more accurate estimate of the number of abortions that are actually taking place.” 

New also asserted that there is a “strong body of data” that shows pro-life laws enacted after the Dobbs decision are saving “thousands of lives,” citing three analyses of Texas birth data. 

Data released by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHS) last year found three abortions were performed in the state in August 2022. The report also found that none of the abortions committed that month were elective, and all were reported to have been "medically necessary."

According to New, states with more permissive abortion policies experience larger birth declines than states that have enacted abortion restrictions, appearing to reference his analysis of fertility data from 2023. 

“This is the first #WeCount report that presents data on telehealth abortions. These figures show an overall increase in telehealth abortions. They also show an increase in telehealth abortions undertaken by medical professionals in states with shield laws,” he stated. 

“Shield laws provide legal protection to clinicians who undertake telehealth abortions in states with legal protections for preborn children,” he continued. “Five states — Colorado, Washington, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont — enacted Shield Laws in 2023.” 

study published earlier this year by the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that, between September 2021 and April 2023, Aid Access received more than 48,000 advance provision requests. Aid Access is a Netherlands-based group that started offering abortion pills to non-pregnant women after Texas implemented its six-week abortion ban in 2021.

New urged pro-lifers to continue advertising the free resources that pro-life pregnancy centers offer women facing unplanned pregnancies. According to a December 2023 report from the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, pregnancy centers served over 970,000 pregnant women and provided over $350 million worth of services to women and families in 2022.

Pro-lifers should continue to educate people about the health risks involved in obtaining chemical abortions without in-person medical supervision,” New added.

“Additionally, pro-lifers should also consider both state and federal strategies to prevent delivery of chemical abortion pills via U.S. postal mail.”

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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