- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 26, 2024

A tiny percentage of U.S. abortions are performed in cases of rape or incest or to save the pregnant woman’s life, but you wouldn’t know that by listening to Democrats as they roll into campaign season.

President Biden used his State of the Union address to spotlight the struggles of a Texas woman whose unborn baby had a fatal chromosomal condition. She wound up traveling out of state to terminate her pregnancy.

“There are state laws banning the right to choose, criminalizing doctors and forcing survivors of rape and incest to leave their states as well to get the care they need,” Mr. Biden said.

Such cases are tragic, but they represent a tiny minority of U.S. abortions, according to the few studies that examine the reasons behind a woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy.

The pro-choice Guttmacher Institute found in 2004 that 1% of women surveyed made the decision to have an abortion because of rape. Less than 0.5% reported becoming pregnant as a result of incest. Those figures were unchanged from Guttmacher’s previous study in 1987.

The institute also found that 12% of women in 2004 and 8% in 1987 reported “physical problem with my health” as a reason for having an abortion. The questionnaire did not ask whether the pregnancy posed a major threat to their life or health.

The pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute followed up in 2022 by examining the eight states that collect and report data on reasons for abortion.

The institute found that 0.3% of women cited rape and/or incest, and 0.2% were because of “risk to the woman’s life or a major bodily function.” Another 2.5% of respondents pointed to other physical health concerns, and 1.3% cited fetal abnormalities.

“Overall, common exceptions to abortion restrictions are estimated to account for less than 5% of all abortions,” the institute said in its report, which was updated last year.

The Lozier analysis found that 95.7% had abortions for “elective and unspecified reasons.”

Guttmacher provided more detail. About three-quarters of women reported in 1987 and 2004 that “having a baby would dramatically change my life,” either because having a child would “interfere with education” or “interfere with job/employment/career.”

Money was also a problem. In 2004, 73% said they couldn’t afford a baby, up from 69% in 1987.

Abortion research isn’t an exact science. Four states, including California, don’t require hospitals, clinics and physicians to report their abortion statistics, meaning that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics are based on data from 46 states.

In addition, “CDC does not request information on reasons for abortion from the states, and so this data is not included in the national reports,” Lozier said.

“As the Dobbs decision results in a shift in where and why abortions are performed and the complications that are associated with them, CDC should strengthen reporting requirements and request additional data from the state,” the institute said in its report.

That said, research indicates that the vast majority of abortions are for reasons other than those touted by Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, whose support for abortion access on the stump has focused on worst-case scenarios.

“Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, abortion has been banned in states across the country — with no exception for even rape or incest,” Ms. Harris said in a Feb. 24 post on Facebook. “It’s immoral.”

Every state has an exception to save the life of the pregnant woman. Eight states that ban most abortions have no exception in cases of rape or incest, according to the Abortion Finder website.

At the start of her “Fight for Reproductive Freedoms” tour in January, Ms. Harris cited the case of a Wisconsin woman who traveled to Minnesota for an abortion after finding her baby had a severe genetic abnormality. The woman also faced a dangerous complication.

“I have met women who have had miscarriages in toilets because they were refused care,” Ms. Harris said. “I met a woman who went to the emergency room during a miscarriage and was turned away because the doctors were afraid they’d be thrown in jail for giving care. And it was only when she developed sepsis that they gave her the care she needed.”

Pro-life advocates have countered that the two-pill abortion regimen, which the Biden administration supports, essentially involves women inducing miscarriages at home in toilets.

Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, submitted a March 22 amicus brief to the Supreme Court that raised alarm about how “delays and denials of care” have resulted in emergency situations. She said, “Pregnancy is a life-threatening condition” for some women. The high court heard oral arguments Tuesday over access to the abortion pill.

That focus on dire medical situations offends some pro-choice advocates. They argue that it feeds the narrative that abortion is acceptable only in emergencies or cases of rape instead of framing abortion as a right.

Mr. Biden has been criticized by those on the left for appearing to avoid using the word “abortion,” opting instead for euphemisms such as “reproductive freedom.”

A website is devoted to the subject called “Did Biden Say Abortion Yet?”

“By not saying the word ‘abortion,’ it implies that it’s taboo or something to be ashamed of,” Kellie Copeland, executive director of Pro-Choice Ohio, told The Associated Press. “It’s stigmatizing and harmful. The president should do better.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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