Abortion wanes as sanctity ceremonies resume

WASHINGTON (BP) -- The number and rate of abortions continue to decline as America again reaches the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the sanctity of human life observances that mark the ruling.

Meanwhile Planned Parenthood, the country's largest abortion chain, maintains its strong share of the diminishing market.

Millions of pro-life Americans, including many in Southern Baptist churches, will observe Sanctity of Human Life Sunday Jan. 18. The annual observance on the Southern Baptist Convention's denominational calendar is one of many responses by pro-lifers to the Supreme Court's decision of Jan. 22, 1973, that legalized abortion nationwide and has resulted in the deaths of an estimated 57 million unborn babies.

The latest statistics encourage efforts to educate Americans, help pregnant women and promote pro-life laws to reduce and end legal abortion.

The annual report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed the abortion rate dropped in 2011 to 13.9, the lowest rate since the lethal procedure was legalized 42 years ago. The rate is the number of abortions per thousand women ages 15 to 44. The federal agency released its statistics in late November, reporting a total of 730,322 abortions from the states that cooperate with the CDC.

The Guttmacher Institute provides more thorough statistics and showed in its July report a total of 1.06 million abortions in 2011, the most recent year for which numbers are available.

For both the CDC and Guttmacher, the latest reports demonstrate the dramatic decline in the number of abortions from 1990, when the CDC reported 1.4 million and Guttmacher 1.6 million.

Southern Baptists' lead ethicist Russell Moore commented on the rate of pro-life progress, saying, "The struggle for human rights for the unborn is a long one."

"We have made progress on some fronts, but there is much to be done," said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "For Christians, this is a matter of more than just culture and law. It's a matter of whether we will see the face of Christ in our unborn neighbors and in their mothers."

Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) continues to resist the declining abortion rate.

PPFA's latest annual report, issued in late December, 2014, showed its affiliates performed 327,653 abortions during the period from October 2012 to September 2013. That was an increase of nearly 500 from the previous year. PPFA also distributed 1.44 million "emergency contraception" kits, a decrease of about 150,000 over the previous year, with the "morning-after" pill designed to cause abortion.

Planned Parenthood continues to flourish financially. It reported in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2014:

-- Total revenue of a record $1.3 billion, $528.4 million, or about 41 percent of it, in government grants and reimbursements;

-- Total assets of $1.7 billion and net assets of 1.4 billion.

The organization reported only 1,880 adoption referrals, a decline of more than 300 from the previous year.

Randall O'Bannon, the National Right to Life Committee's director of education and research, commented on PPFA's report, "[I]n a nutshell, even as the culture around them grows increasingly uncomfortable with their signature product, Planned Parenthood is as committed to abortion as it ever was and is looking for ways to defend and expand its abortion empire."

The report shows Planned Parenthood's "clear institutional bias" in favor of abortion, O'Bannon wrote. Its breakdown of services for pregnant women, he said, is prenatal care, 5.4 percent; adoption, 0.5 percent; and abortion, 94.1 percent.

"For all their talk about 'choice' and allowing women to make their own determinations with regard to their [pregnancies], the services such women receive at PPFA clinics are decidedly one-sided," O'Bannon said.

In other news about abortion:

-- A total of 60 abortion clinics in the country closed permanently during 2014, according to a Dec. 29 report by the pro-life organization Operation Rescue (O.R.). Of those, 47 were surgical centers and 13 were facilities that provided only medication abortions. Another 13 clinics closed but were allowed to reopen during the year. Since 1991, the number of surgical abortion centers has declined by 75 percent, from 2,176 to 551, O.R. reported.

-- Louisiana gained the ranking as the country's most pro-life state for the sixth consecutive year, Americans United for Life (AUL) announced Jan. 13. Following Louisiana in the top 10 states for protecting unborn children and their mothers through public policy were: (2) Mississippi; (3) Kansas; (4) Oklahoma (5) Arkansas; (6) Missouri; (7) Indiana; (8) North Dakota; (9) Nebraska, and (10) Texas. AUL ranked Washington as the least protective state for the sixth consecutive year. The next nine least protective states were: (2) Vermont; (3) Oregon; (4) California; (5) New Jersey; (6) Hawaii; (7) New York; (8) Montana; (9) Nevada, and (10) Connecticut. States have enacted almost 220 laws in the last four years to protect women and unborn children, according to AUL.

-- A new approach to restricting abortion was unveiled Jan. 14 when the Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act was introduced in the Kansas Senate. The National Right to Life Committee predicted it "will transform the landscape of abortion policy" in America. "With the discussion about, and passage of this bill, the public will see that dismemberment abortions brutally and unacceptably rip apart small human beings who have all of their internal organs and who have perfectly formed fingers and toes," Kathy Ostrowski, Kansans for Life's legislative director, said.

-- Abortion training debuted on the Internet in October. The University of California at San Francisco offered a free, six-week class to train future doctors how to perform the procedure, according to World News Service. Jody Steinauer, an assistant professor and the founder of Medical Students for Choice, taught the course. Nearly 3,000 people signed up for it, according to The Daily Beast, WNS reported. Donna Harrison, the executive director of the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told WNS many doctors don't refuse to do abortions because of a lack of education. "Any OB-GYN knows how to empty a uterus at any stage," she said. "It's just that most OB-GYNs recognize that there are two patients."

The difference between the statistics by the CDC and the Guttmacher Institute is based on how their reports are collected. The CDC depends upon states' voluntary cooperation. It said six of its reporting areas did not provide consistent data from 2002 to 2011. Three states -- California, Maryland and New Hampshire -- made no reports to the CDC in 2011. Guttmacher compiles its statistics directly from the abortion centers.

Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.
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