Abortion’s Downward Trend?
A progress report on building a culture of life.

Charmaine Yoest


Kathryn Jean Lopez

In his book Abuse of Discretion, Clarke Forsythe goes through the legal history of abortion in America, a story that previously remained largely untold. (Read our interview here.) Forty-one years in, most Americans are not just ignorant of how Roe v. Wade came to be, but what exactly it is. The good news is that polling consistently shows that Americans do not prefer abortion; they prefer making sure women and children are safe and supported. They prefer restricting abortion — as a recent Marist poll from the Knights of Columbus finds — protecting women and the unborn, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. This is why the abortion industry hides behind euphemisms to keep its stranglehold on our miserable politics on these issues.

Forsythe is senior counsel for Americans United for Life, which, like Pope Francis, recently caught the attention of Rolling Stone. As with the piece on the pope, Rolling Stone may not entirely get what’s going on, but there’s big news in the noticing. AUL’s annual compendium, Defending Life, and its accompanying “Life List” assess the state of the union when it comes to abortion policy and law. AUL shines a light on Planned Parenthood’s offenses against women’s health and its foundational role in our culture of death. And its Women’s Protect Project seeks to ensure that women know there are alternatives.

Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, talks about the latest abortion numbers from the Guttmacher Institute, AUL’s Life List, and the progress toward building a civilization of life and love. — KJL

Kathryn Jean Lopez: The big news this month is that the abortion rate is lower. What’s your reaction?

Charmaine Yoest: We are really pleased to hear that abortions nationwide continue trending downward, even from the Guttmacher Institute, the abortion industry’s own research arm. Nevertheless, with abortions continuing at a rate of over a million a year, we are still sobered by the staggering loss of human life those numbers represent. It’s also important to recognize that the abortion data in this country is deeply flawed. There is no standardized reporting to the Centers for Disease Control. And this report from Guttmacher is based on survey data that they collect themselves. Women are often told by abortionists to use emergency rooms if they experience complications — and furthermore to conceal the abortion by claiming it’s a spontaneous miscarriage. This kind of deception from the abortion industry is extremely dangerous to women’s health. Another element reported on in this latest study is the continuing increase in the use of chemical abortions. The abortion industry is shifting its business model to emphasize chemical abortion, which has an increased risk of hemorrhage. This is deeply troubling when we are looking at an unregulated industry that continues to emphasize secrecy and is marked by a lack of accountability. Overall, we are encouraged to hear of any decrease in abortion. But there are still underlying trends that continue to threaten women and the lives of unborn children by further cloaking the effects of a dangerous and profit-driven industry.

Lopez: What does it take to make your Life List?

Yoest: AUL’s annual Life List captures and quantifies the progress the 50 states are making toward protecting life in law. The states that top this year’s Life List — Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Texas — have consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to protecting women, the unborn, the dying, and the vulnerable, as well as to safeguarding our fundamental First Amendment freedom of conscience, which is increasingly under attack from the Obama administration, Big Abortion, and its allies.

The Life List’s top states make protecting human life a cornerstone of their legislative agendas. In 2013, at least 97 new life-affirming laws were enacted, including at least 69 requirements related to abortion. Top Life List states Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, North Dakota, and Texas made significant progress last year in advancing pro-life agendas. A primary focus of the 2014 Life List is how well the states are implementing the protective and cutting-edge laws featured in AUL’s new Women’s Protection Project. This initiative is focused on seven pieces of AUL model legislation designed to protect women from the harms inherent in late-term abortions, to empower women with information about abortion and its risks, to ensure that abortion clinics are meeting medically appropriate standards of care, to protect minor girls from an exploitative abortion industry, to prohibit impersonal and dangerous “telemed” abortion practices, and to ensure that protective laws such as these are appropriately implemented and enforced.

Lopez: What does Louisiana do so right?

Yoest: Louisiana tops the Life List for the fifth year in a row because of its decades-long history of enacting common-sense limitations on abortion. It also is one of two states that comprehensively protect health-care freedom of conscience and is one of only a small number of states that have adopted meaningful regulations on emerging biotechnologies such as destructive embryo research. For example, in recent years, Louisiana has enacted laws prohibiting abortions after five months of pregnancy, requiring abortion clinics to inform women that no one can coerce them into undergoing abortions, and prohibiting insurance companies from offering abortion coverage within the state insurance exchanges established under Obamacare.