How Many Abortions Since Roe V Wade?

How Many Abortions Since Roe V Wade? Check here!

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Iowa state Rep. Greg Heartsill made news last week for reciting Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears a Who!” during an emotional House floor address in favor of the state constitution’s so-called “Personhood Amendment.”

R-Chariton gave one specific, provable fact before his dramatic reading and political interpretation of the children’s tale, Heartsill. 

He estimated that 50 million abortions had been performed in the United States since 1973 when the Roe v. Wade decision of the United States Supreme Court legalized the procedure.

This statement is TRUE in our opinion.

Between 1973 and 2011, the Guttmacher Institute – a research group that advocates for legal abortion access reported that over 50 million abortions were done. These studies have been peer-reviewed and mentioned by both supporters and opponents of legal abortion.

At the same time, the federal government’s figures indicate a population of fewer than 50 million, although they are lacking data from numerous states across multiple years.

“This morning, I presented House Joint Resolution 9 with ten other members. A resolution proposes an amendment to the Iowa Constitution that would recognize and safeguard every individual in our great state’s fundamental right to life, regardless of their stage of development.

“It is a right that well over 50 million Americans – citizens — have been denied since 1973.”

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When pressed for clarification on what he meant by 50 million Americans having their “right to life” “denied,” Heartsill said that he was referring to the number of abortion operations conducted since the Roe v. Wade decision. That is what we are verifying here.

That large-scale figure — more than 50 million abortions done since 1973 — is a frequently used talking point by abortion opponents. 

However, unlike other rhetorical arguments in the political debate over abortion, this one is not challenged by pro-legal access activists and is based on facts supplied by an abortion-supporting organization.


Between 1973 and 2011, the most current year for which statistics are available, the Guttmacher Institute estimates that 52.6 million abortions were conducted. That figure was greater on Feb. 26, 2015, the date of Heartsill’s statements.

The figure is based on data gathered over many years and published in two scientific papers: “Abortion Incidence and Access to Services in the US 2008,” in 2011, and “Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the US, 2011,” in 2014. 

Both articles were published in the Guttmacher Institute’s peer-reviewed journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

The data came from surveys of health care institutions “known or assumed to have offered abortion services” beginning in 1973. Still, for 13 years, researchers relied on estimates produced by interpolating “abortion counts and revisions based on state health department records.”

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gathers comparable data and releases an annual report titled “Abortion Surveillance.” Between 1973 and 2011, 42 million abortions were done, according to data from the 2002 edition and the most current 2014 edition, albeit with a California-sized caveat.

Several states have been silent for years on the CDC report, including California — the nation’s most populated state — which has not submitted abortion statistics since 1998.

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According to a spokeswoman for the California Department of Public Health, the state does not have statistics on the overall number of abortions done each year. California, with a population of 38.8 million people, accounts for 12% of the United States’ population, according to 2014 census figures.

New Hampshire has likewise failed to publish statistics since 1998, as have Maryland, Oklahoma, Alaska, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Delaware.

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