Life Matters —The Newsletter of the Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Rockford
By Patricia Pitkus Bainbridge
Director, Respect Life Office
The Illinois Department of Public Health has released its “2003 Illinois Abortion Statistics.” As always, the premature deaths of these tiny human beings are referred to as “reported induced pregnancy terminations.” While the Department of Public Health may choose to refer to these deaths as “pregnancy terminations,” the truth is that each one of these “terminations” resulted in the violent death of a developing baby before he or she had the opportunity to see the light of day.
During 2003 a total of 42,228 abortions were reportedly committed on women in Illinois. Of that number, 3,497 were committed on women living out of state. It goes without saying that anytime the number of abortions is reduced, it is good news. However, for a number of reasons, we have no assurance that these figures are totally accurate.
The “51” Rule
As I have mentioned in previous issues of Life Matters, for some unknown reason, abortion statistics in Illinois from any given county are tallied only if fifty-one or more women from that county aborted their babies.
If “only” fifty or less women from a county abort their babies, the number is not included in the over-all statistics. Of the 102 counties in Illinois, the statistics for 69 counties are listed as “less than or equal to 50.” That information—coupled with the fact that there is no guarantee that abortionists report all the abortions they commit—leaves us with no way of knowing for certain just how many babies in Illinois are killed in their mother’s wombs.
The statistics provided by the Illinois Department of Health regarding the total number of abortions committed in any given year must be viewed as incomplete. These numbers represent a minimum. Keep in mind that in 69 counties we have no idea how many women aborted. In each county it could be any number between zero and 50. For the entire state the number could remain the same or increase by a maximum of 3,450. The possibility that the reported number would increase by even a single digit does make a difference. Each increase represents another dead innocent human being.
At Least Six Babies Each Day in Our Diocese
For the eleven counties in Northern Illinois included in the Diocese of Rockford, the number of reported abortions for 2003 decreased to 2,134 (down from 2,309 in 2002). This is good news. However, 2,134 divided by 365 days (coupled with the possibility of up to an additional 150 not reported due to the “51” rule) means that at least six babies from our Diocese are killed before birth each day.
The breakdown of the number of pre-born babies killed by county of residence of their mothers is as follows:
Boone—78 (down from 91 in 2002);
DeKalb—171 (down from 192 in 2002);
Kane—612 (down from 632 in 2002):
McHenry—451 (down from 490 in 2002);
Ogle—74 (up from 69 in 2002);
Stephenson—65 (down from 74 in 2002);
Whiteside—52 (down from 60 in 2002);
Winnebago—631 (down from 701 in 2002);
*could be as many as 50
Why Were There Fewer Abortions?
Both pro-life and pro-choice for abortion apologists have weighed in on why there were fewer abortions reported in Illinois in 2003. According to an Associated Press report, “Pam Sutherland, president of the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council, said… that the decline is not surprising with the huge growth in popularity of new contraceptive methods, such as the birth control patch. ‘Birth control methods are just so much better than they’ve ever been,’ Sutherland said. ‘Women and men are just being such good contraceptive users and really planning pregnancies.’”
Sutherland is apparently ignoring statistics from Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s own affiliate, the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which reports that “Six in 10 women having abortions experienced a contraceptive failure.”
Sutherland did not mention the typical Planned Parenthood mantra that “more contraceptive education results in fewer abortions.” As Susan Wills, Esq. (Associate Director for Education, USSCB Office of Pro-Life Activities) writes, “Perhaps, it's more than a coincidence that all 5 states with the highest teen abortion rates (NY, NV, NJ, MD and CA)—at almost twice the U.S. average—also include contraception education in STD and sex education courses. And is it only a coincidence that 4 of the 5 states with the lowest teen abortion rates (UT, ND, SD, WV and ID) either prohibit or do not mandate contraception education, or allow it to be taught only if risks and failures are fully explored?”
Wills continues, “Certainly other factors are involved, but the data from these 10 states contradict the abortion/contraception industry's claim that educating kids about sex and contraception and increasing access to pills and condoms will bring down abortion rates.”
Last year, commenting about the reported general decline in the number of US abortions, Paula Gianino, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, told the St. Louis Post Dispatch, “…the decline speaks, in part, to the success of new contraceptive measures—especially the ‘emergency contraception kits’ of pills that can prevent pregnancy if taken within a few days after intercourse.”
What Gianino fails to acknowledge is that the primary mechanism of so-called “emergency contraception” (EC) is a very early abortion. As there is no way to know just how many very young human beings were killed by the action of EC, these abortions cannot be included in reported abortions. Hence, the widespread use of EC obviously contributes to the lower number of reported abortions.
While we have no way to know for certain, other possibilities for the reported decline in the number of abortions may include: increasing numbers of young people choosing to live chaste life styles; increasing awareness about the humanity of the unborn; the tireless work of pregnancy care centers which offer “real” choices for women facing untimely pregnancies; and increasing awareness of the negative psychological and health affects following abortion.
One area to also consider is the decline in the number of women of child-bearing age. Vital Statistic Illinois-1999 reported that, “One reason for the decline in the general fertility rate is the decrease in the number of women in the peak childbearing age groups.” If, then, there are fewer women in Illinois of child-bearing age, it follows that there will be fewer unintended pregnancies and hence, fewer abortions.
Bottom line, if there are fewer abortions being committed, that is wonderful news. But, let us not forget that even one abortion is one too many!