By Rose Mimms, Executive Director, Arkansas Right to Life
The provisional data released this week by the Arkansas Department of Health on the number of induced abortions in the state in 2019 reported the lowest total number of abortions in the state since the state began reporting in the mid-70s–2,963. One abortion is too many but that drop is a very good thing and a reminder that pro-life education pays off.
Since the 1990s when legal abortion reached the highest of 1.6 million, both the abortion rate (the number of abortions per thousand women of child-bearing years) and the total number of abortions have continued to drop consistently. However, because we never lose sight of the truth that each and every abortion takes a human life, all who call themselves pro-life agree that the new numbers will rally all of us to continue educational and legislative efforts to make the abortion decision unthinkable for any mother in a crisis pregnancy situation. So we have much work to do.
One of the most compelling numbers in the data tells us that chemical abortion is soaring as a preferred method to stop the beating heart of the unborn child.
In Arkansas, Planned Parenthood’s one clinic in Little Rock is the leading provider and responsible for most of the 1,237 deaths by this method, though the other abortion clinic provides surgical and chemical as well. That’s up from 979 in 2018, accounting for more than 40 percent of the total number of abortions in Arkansas.
RU-486 (“medication abortion”) involves two drugs taken 72 hours apart. The first kills the baby up to 10 weeks; the second expels the dead baby.
It’s remarkable (and a cause of great consternation to pro-abortionists) to note that a mother can change her mind after taking the first pill and possibly save her baby if she does not take the second drug but take progesterone to try to counter the effects of the first drug.
According to the report, 1369 suction abortions were reported in the first trimester and 355 dismemberment (D&E) abortions at 12-plus weeks. And one “other” for a total of 2,963.
Another interesting statistic is the 13 judicial bypasses that were granted for teenagers up to 17 years old that allowed a likely surgical abortion without their parent’s knowledge or consent. It was a repeat of the same exact statistic in 2018. The possible physical, emotional and spiritual consequence of abortion on a child who is making a life and death decision without the input of a parent is incomprehensible. An advocate should be appointed to speak for the minor child and her unborn child in those court proceedings.
A particularly shocking number is the Induced Abortions by Race. There were 1,317 White, 1,373 Black, 221 to other, and 52 unknown. This graphically reveals a disproportionate abortion choice by women of color based on the population of our state. While this number fluctuates from year-to-year, it is always disproportionate when compared to population, a pattern that is repeated in most if not all states.
Unmarried women age 20-29 account for 1,793 of the 2,963, or roughly 60 percent of legal abortion in Arkansas. (Unmarried women of all ages had 2,575 accounted for 87 percent of all abortions.
In addition, 338 women came to Arkansas from surrounding states to obtain an abortion, up from 321 in 2018. Very disturbing is the continued increase in the number of repeat abortions reported 1,048 were having their second or more abortion, a whopping 35 percent.
These numbers tell a story about women. Some, when faced with the life and death decision of abortion, are provided a free ultrasound or the opportunity to hear the beating heart of their baby, and find support from a pregnancy help center, friend or parent, and choose life instead of abortion. By contrast there were other girls who felt that their only choice was to go to a judge instead of their parent or to an abortion provider whose only option was to stop the beating heart of their baby as the solution to their crisis.
Yes, fewer women chose abortion in Arkansas. But for the 2,963 who did, the pro-life movement offers love, help and healing if you want it and the promise that abortion does not have to be your only choice should you face another crisis pregnancy.
The work to end abortion won’t stop until the demand for abortion is no more. Much work to do.