Accuracy about abortion statistics: putting things into perspective
In a recent post entitled “What is abortion?: These pictures help us to understand what we are talking about” (http://surburg.blogspot.com/2013/03/what-is-abortion-these-pictures-help-us.html) I was seeking to call attention to the pictures released in Grand Jury Report for the Gosnell murder trial and the way they help us to understand what abortion really is. There is need for calm reflection upon this evidence and what it says about abortion. This is something that both pro-abortion and pro-life individuals need to engage.
In the second paragraph of that post I wrote, “Some will say that late abortions like this are the exception. However, remember that third trimester abortions account for ten percent of the abortions done in the United States each year. This means that some 100,000 babies like this are killed every year.” A friend has contacted me and pointed out that this figure is not accurate. We certainly want to use accurate data when we talk about such an important topic, so I went back to check and found out that he is correct. The ten percent figure is actually the total for second and third trimester abortions combined.
It turns out that there is always some uncertainty about abortion statistics because there is probably a tendency to under report them:
After looking through the statistics in a number of sources it seems that as a general rule approximately 90% of abortions are performed in the first trimester; 9% in the second trimester; and 1% in the third trimester. These are not exact percentages, but when talking about the issue they provide a good working overview to keep in mind in an area where precise statistics are not readily available.
If we assume that around 1.2 million abortions are performed in the United States
(http://www.guttmacher.org/media/presskits/abortion-US/statsandfacts.html) and even grant that slightly less than 1% of all abortions are performed in the third trimester, we still find that at least 9,000 babies are killed this way every year.
To put this in perspective, during the Iraq war between 2003 and 2012, the U.S. armed forces in Iraq suffered 4,488 deaths from all causes (http://www.defense.gov/news/casualty.pdf). So in any given year twice as many third trimester babies are killed as there were U.S. soldiers killed in the entire Iraq war. During the ten year of U.S. involvement in Iraq, some 90,000 third trimester babies like those pictured in the Grand Jury Report for the Gosnell murder trial were killed.
Naturally the timing in the death of any of the 1.2 million babies killed each year by abortion is irrelevant. The killing of a baby is the killing of a baby. But when you hear that third trimester abortions are rare, keep in mind that in any given year there are approximately twice as many babies killed in this way as there were U.S. soldiers killed during the course of ten years of war in Iraq.