Last Thursday, it was reported that the Obama administration was blocking the release of annual abortion statistics. These statistics have been publicly reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) since 1969. However, when contacted by RedState.com a spokesperson for the CDC stated that there are “no plans” for additional data to be released at this time.
On Friday, the CDC quickly backtracked. They released a statement stating that the Abortion Surveillance Report is “tentatively scheduled for release this month.” They claimed that the delay was due to the fact that “population data needed to develop rate/ratio statistics” was unavailable. Unfortunately, the CDC failed to provide a specific release date. RedState.com is understandably skeptical. They feel as if the CDC released vague statement to buy themselves some time in the hope that the pro-life movement would eventually forget about the issue.
The CDC’s conduct here is certainly puzzling to say the least. Now, in fairness, the release of abortion data has not always been consistent over time. In fact, there have been instances where the CDC waited a year and released two years worth of abortion data simultaneously. Data from 1984 and 1985 were simultaneously released in 1989. Similarly, in 1990 the CDC simultaneously released data from 1986 and 1987.
However, every year since 2002, the CDC has always released annual abortion data during the last two weeks of November. Additionally, the population data necessary to calculate abortion rates and ratios has already been collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. Furthermore, an internal e-mail shows that the Abortion Surveillance Report was actually submitted for publication in mid-November. As such, the backtracking, the fact that no data has been released, and the fact that the CDC has still not provided a release date is all puzzling.
The annual abortion data that has been collected by the CDC has very been useful for pro-life activists. It has provided evidence of the effectiveness of our legislative strategies. Furthermore, it has also provided evidence of the incremental progress the pro-life movement has made. As such, the pro-life movement would do well to remain vigilant and pursue appropriate legislative or legal action if abortion data is not forthcoming from the CDC.
— Michael J. New is an assistant professor at the University of Alabama and a fellow at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J.