In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton decisions superceded all state laws prohibiting abortion. Because of the broad health definition in Doe vs. Bolton, abortion was made legal through all nine months of pregnancy for any “health” reason a woman can think of and her abortionist will agree to.

Abortion providers argue that second and third trimester abortions are only allowed when a mother’s life and health are in danger. What they don’t say is that according to Doe vs. Bolton, health is defined in very broad terms, i.e., social well-being, as to make it virtually impossible for a state to protect the unborn child even after the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy.

Doe vs. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179 stated that “the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.”

Since the 1973 decisions, an estimated 46 million abortions have been performed in the United States.

An estimated 30 to 40 couples are waiting to adopt for every one infant who is put up for adoption, according to Allan Hazlett, the president of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.

In 1970, there were 89,200 American children placed in permanent homes to unrelated couples through adoption, but by 1975, only two years after the legalization of abortion, that number was down to 47,700 (NCFA, Adoption Factbook, p. 99).

Abortion Statistics for the United States

According to the latest statistics from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1.31 million abortions were performed during 2000 in the United States.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) also monitors abortions in the United States. According to the CDC, 46.8% of the women who had abortions in 2000 had obtained an abortion previously in their lives. More than 20% of women who aborted had at least two previous abortions.

According to the statistics for 2000 from the CDC, 36.3% of abortions were performed on African-Americans, who comprise only 12.9% of the U.S. population. For further statistics from the CDC, go to

Abortion Statistics for Rhode Island

The most recent statistics in Rhode Island showed that in 2001, the total number of reported abortions for the state was 5,455. Rhode Island ranks 6th highest in the nation for percentage of pregnancies aborted.

The annual number of abortions in Rhode Island has dropped 30% since 1990 when 7,782 abortions were performed in Rhode Island.

Note: These statistics were updated on November 5, 2005, by the Johnston Archives. Their data was obtained from the Centers for Disease Control, supplemented in some cases by data from state health departments. Abortion data is from the Alan Guttmacher Institute. Reporting of abortions varies in completeness from state to state; figures by state of residence are particularly incomplete.

Abortion Myths

Abortion advocates often use a coat hanger to symbolize the “age of back-alley abortions” when women were forced to seek abortions from “unqualified butchers.” The number of women who died from illegal “back-alley” abortions was often said to be in the thousands. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Vital Statistics, only 39 women died from illegal abortions in 1972.

To describe illegal abortion providers as unqualified is hardly accurate. Former medical director of Planned Parenthood Dr. Mary Calderone described, in a 1960 American Journal of Health article, a 1958 study which showed that 84% to 87% of all illegal abortions were performed by licensed physicians in good standing. Dr. Calderone concluded that “90% of all illegal abortions are presently done by physicians.” So it seems that the “back-alley butchers” of January 21, 1973, became “caring doctors who believe in a woman’s right to choose” on January 22, 1973.

In 1978, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology stated that the legalization of abortion “has had no major impact on the number of women dying from abortion” since the results of a study they completed showed that over 90% of all illegal abortions were performed by licensed physicians.

Abortion advocates also claim that a million American women each year were undergoing illegal abortions before Roe v. Wade. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show that these statements are highly misleading. The CDC reports that after abortion was legalized in January 1973, there were 615,831 legal abortions. In 1976, when there were 988,267 abortions. There weren’t over a million legal abortions a year in the United States until the end of 1977, five years after abortion was made legal in all states.

Abortion was legal in a handful of states ( New York, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, New Jersey, Vermont, and California) before Roe v. Wade and the CDC reports that there were 586,760 legal abortions in 1972.

Consequences of Abortion

Advocates of abortion claimed that if abortion became legal, child abuse would become less frequent. The National Incidence Study from the National Clearing House estimates that 1,553,800 children in the United States were abused or neglected under the Harm Standard in 1993. This same study estimated that in 1980 there were 625,100 abused or neglected children. This is an increase of more than 148%.

Numerous published scientific studies have found that women who abort a child, especially their first child, have a greater risk of getting breast cancer.

One study found that at least 19 percent of women who abort suffer from diagnosable post-traumatic stress disorder (Barnhard, C., The Long-Term Psychological Effects of Abortion, 1990).

In a 1996 study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers found that women who had abortions were three times more likely than the general population, and six times more likely than women who gave birth, to commit suicide in the following year.