National abortion statistics in the U.S. are only available from two sources, privately from The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) and federally from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Since Alaska, California and New Hampshire do not provide abortion data to the federal government, and since California accounts for more abortions than any other state in the U.S, the CDC numbers are somewhat speculative. AGI, on the other hand, is the research arm of Planned Parenthood, the world’s largest abortion provider. While their data is helpful, they certainly have a position and agenda in regard to abortion. The following information has been gleaned from both sources to provide an overview of the frequency and demography of abortion.
- In 2005 (the most recent year for which there is reliable data), approximately 1.21 million abortions took place in the U.S., down from an estimated 1.29 million in 2002, 1.31 million in 2000 and 1.36 million in 1996. From 1973 through 2005, more than 45 million legal abortions have occurred in the U.S. (AGI).
- At least 80% of all abortions are performed on unmarried women (CDC).
- 50% of U.S. women obtaining abortions are younger than 25; women aged 20-24 obtain 33% of all U.S. abortions and teenagers obtain 17% (AGI).
- 47% of women who have abortions had at least one previous abortion (AGI).
- Black women are more than 4.8 times more likely than non-Hispanic white women to have an abortion, and Hispanic women are 2.7 times as likely (AGI).
- On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 3/4 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner (AGI).
I still remember looking at my high school text book in horror that day. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the small picture at the bottom of the page. It was a rendering of the layout of a slave ship bound for the Americas. The picture showed rows and rows of African people chained to each other, each having less than a coffin’s amount of space to move and live during the horrible journey. I gasped as I read about the “troughs” that lined the rows of slaves for their excrement to flow through. My imagination jumped from face to face as I thought of the mothers, fathers, children, grandparents on that ship; all plucked from their human lives to become worthless possessions of the white man.
Another distinct memory I have in regard to slave ships is more recent and from the movie Amazing Grace. The scene burned into my memory is of William Wilberforce touring one such ship. He is shown a place where the women were chained up in a standing position for the shipmates to rape over and over and over again. What could be going through her mind during those hopeless months of sea travel but that she was dead, no longer human?
How would you like to be on the wrong side of history? How would you like to be a slave owner who would one day be seen as a villain, a devil. The fact is that the general population of the “civilized” world believed that slavery was normal, even a good thing. The vast majority of these people believed the lie that Africans were not people-they were possessions, like livestock. The perception of the black man was that he couldn’t think or reason for himself and therefore he needed a white man to do those things for him. His destiny was in the hands of the white man and whatever he felt was “best.”
We look at people like Abraham Lincoln and William Wilberforce and applaud their efforts in the face of adversity. We marvel at their passion and unwavering pursuits of justice. We are forever grateful for the changes they brought about through blood, sweat, and tears. Yet, for every one person like these men there were thousands of indifferent, uncaring, or anti abolitionary men in the “civilized” world. These two men were not the norm for society, they were most certainly the exception.
I look at the abortion movement in similar fashion. When I think about the overwhelming public opinion that is either indifferent or “pro-choice” I sometimes feel as though it is a hopeless cause. How can so many people be so blind to the massive genocide that is taking place within our own borders. How can we yet again dehumanize our fellow human beings to the point where we advocate their deaths for the convenience and “happiness” of the mothers carrying them? We say that we will never be so ignorant as to allow another Holocaust to happen. “NEVER AGAIN!” we shout. And yet just as the Nazi regime convinced a nation that Jewish people were not really people, we have believed the lie that unborn children are simply property that a mother can dispose of whenever it is inconvenient for her to care for it any longer. I believe that one day we will be standing in a land where abortion is seen for what it truly is, selfish murder, and that one day we will look back on those who so adamantly stood for “women’s freedom” with the same incredulous anger we feel toward slave traders, slave owners, and the Nazis.
Yet, what are we doing to abolish abortion? I may not be actively fighting for abortion, but what am I doing to end it? These are questions Richard and I have been mulling over and praying about lately. If we believe that abortion is murder and know that more than 1 million helpless babies are being murdered every year in our country it is not enough to sit around and lament our countries indifference. It is not enough to agree with our friends as they speak of the injustices done at abortion clinics. It is not enough to mourn over “pro-choice” legislation as it glides through our government. It is our Christian duty and our American obligation to fight for the rights of children who cannot fight for themselves.
I often wonder what side of history I would be on…
Would I have stood back and watched as Wilberforce spent much of his life fighting for the end of the slave trade in England? Or would I have stood beside him, sharing in his failures, his set backs, his shame and fighting for a cause full of righteousness and honor. Would I have shared in his victory, or been ashamed of my lack of involvement?
Would I be an indifferent American (Christian even) who didn’t want to rock the boat during the civil rights movement? Or would I have walked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the march for equal rights for all human beings? Would I have stood beside my African American brothers and sisters as they fought to be treated as human beings and not second class citizens?
Would I have followed the propaganda of the Nazi regime and disowned all my Jewish friends and neighbors? Would I have turned a blind eye to the death camps they were sent to? Or would I have sounded the bell, bravely standing up against a satanic government though it could cost me my life?
Richard and I have come to the conclusion that if we are not actively involved in the “pro-life” movement, we might as well count ourselves guilty of each of the former atrocities listed. Standing by and mourning the lack of morality in our country is not enough. The people in our country need to know that the anti abortion movement is not a passing fad among Christians, but a core belief in the basic right of every human being to have the the opportunity to live from the moment of creation. They can only come to terms with this if we, who know the truth, are serious about the cause of our age. They must see that it is not simply another “issue” that is on the voting ballet, but that it is the issue of our times. We must show them. We must get serious and get active. We must get involved in the debate with humility and graciousness, yet with knowledge and commitment on our side. Our country stands for justice for all and that is what we must fight for.
We are praying that the Lord would guide us in our pursuit of abolishing abortion and that he would provide the opportunities for us to get involved in a more active way. Would you do the same? Would you seriously think about what you could be doing locally and nationally to fight against the murder of millions of helpless children?
Please pray with us toward the abolition of abortion.