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Whether or Not Abortions Are Going Up or Down, Chemical Abortions Have Become an Increasing Problem

Charlie Neibergall

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released numbers for 2020 on abortion, which appeared to show that abortion numbers in the United States were going down, a cause of cautious optimism for many pro-lifers, including Dr. Michael New, a research associate at the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America and an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI). Not long after, however, the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute released their numbers, showing a different story, as abortions were shown to have slightly increased.


A December 1 news release from the Guttmacher Institute about the Abortion Provider Census (APC), billed itself as "the most comprehensive data collection effort on abortion provision in the United States." Dr. New pointed out in a Twitter thread that their "data appears more reliable than the recent CDC data which found that abortions declined by 2% in 2020."

Relevant key findings included how: 

  • In 2020, 930,160 abortions were provided in clinical settings, an 8% increase from 2017.; 
  • The 2020 abortion rate of 14.4 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 represented a 7% increase from 2017.; 
  • Slightly more than one in five pregnancies, 20.6%, ended in abortion in 2020, up from 18.4% in 2017.

The news release actually celebrated the increase, with a statement from Guttmacher Institute Principal Research Scientist Rachel Jones. "An increase in the rate of abortions is a positive development if it means that people are exercising their right to bodily autonomy by deciding when and if they become parents," the statement in part read, tellingly using woke language of "people," rather than women when referring to those who can get pregnant. 

Jones' statement went on to, not surprisingly, lament the Dobbs v. Jackson decision that the U.S. Supreme Court officially handed down in late June to overturn Roe v. Wade. "However, while our study demonstrates that more people in the United States are seeking abortion care, the Supreme Court’s radical decision to overturn Roe v. Wade just as we are seeing this historic increase means that fewer people will be able to access it," the statement continued. 


Long gone are the days when abortion advocates wanted abortion to be "safe, legal, and rare."

Dr. New highlighted more insights over Twitter as well as in a December 2 post for National Review. 

Another relevant point on state laws when it comes to abortions going up or down, is Virginia. Under Democratic control of the state legislature and governor's mansion, lawmakers there repealed pro-life laws in 2020, including those to do with  informed consent about the procedure and waiting periods. Abortions increased by 14 percent.

While Guttmacher showing a 1 percent increase in abortions looks to be more accurate, both the APC and numbers from the CDC point to a particularly alarming increase in chemical abortions, as the method where women acquire abortion-inducing pills is now known.

"Medication abortion accounted for 53% of all abortions, compared with 39% in 2017," the Guttmacher news release noted.

As Townhall reported at the time in December of last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Biden administration did away with safety regulations involving the method, so that women no longer needed an in-person visit with a doctor to acquire the abortion-inducing pills of mifepristone and misoprostol. 

A woman first takes mifepristone, which starves her unborn child of nutrients. Then, 24-48 hours later, she takes misoprostol to cause contractions to expel the dead child, usually at home alone, in the bathroom. The method has been illustrated in the film "Unplanned" and on the This Is Chemical Abortion website.


This move from the FDA is despite dangers associated with the method, which the FDA has approved for up to 10-weeks. Such a method carries with it four times the complications of surgical abortions. Side effects and risks associated with this method include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, fever/chills, and headaches. The bleeding may last for weeks after the abortion. 

The administration also appears to have used incomplete data to make the decision. A study released in November of last year from the CLI found that, according to Medicaid claims data, visits to the emergency room following a chemical abortion increased by 507 percent from 2002 to 2015. And that was before the FDA expanded when the method could be used, from seven weeks to 10. 

In discussing the data with Townhall, Dr. New specifically referred to the chemical abortion numbers, and warned such an increase "should concern pro-lifers for several reasons." He pointed to how even the CDC showed an increase of abortions in 2018 and 2019, due to this method. 

"Chemical abortions are fatal to preborn children, but dangerous to women. Allowing chemical abortions to take place without an in-person medical exam increases those risks.  If a woman with an ectopic pregnancy obtains a chemical abortion, that could be fatal. If a woman is further along in gestation than she realizes, and then obtains a chemical abortion -- that could pose serious health risks," Dr. New highlighted about the method.

"Pro-lifers should oppose the Biden administration FDA rules allowing women to obtain chemical abortion drugs without an in-person medical exam though educaton, legislation, and litigation. In particular, pro-lifers should appluad Alliance Defending Freedom's recent lawsuit against the FDA to reverse the FDA's approval of mifepristone -- the drug used in medical abortions," Dr. New added. 


The lawsuit in question came last month. 

As to why the CDC may have incomplete and/or inaccurate data, it's worth highlighting how states are not required to submit their abortion numbers, and not all do. This includes California, the most populous state, which also has some of the most pro-abortion laws in the world. The CDC's 49 reporting areas include the District of Columbia and New York City, but fail to include California, Maryland, and New Hampshire.

Here's hoping that to Guttmacher and the rest of the pro-abortion's ire, the number of abortions will indeed actually decrease in the years to come. Dr. New told Townhall he is confident that that will be the case, and pointed to a study of his that the CLI published last month, which showed that, using birth rates, the Texas Heartbeat Act that went into effect in September 2021 led to fewer abortions. 

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