Are Late-term Abortions Rare?

“Well, late-term abortions are rare!” How often have you heard that line? Usually its context is to dismiss arguments for banning late-term abortions.

Is it true, though?

Well, if late-term abortions are rare, so are many other common causes of death.

Rare is a subjective term. The best way to determine if something is rare is to compare it to related things people would say are common.

For abortion supporters, they seek to compare late-term abortions to early abortions. A familiar line you might hear is that late-term abortions are only 1% of all abortions. Because there are a massive number of abortions occurring in the United States, that 1% number is quite high.

According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, there were an estimated 926,200 abortions in the United States in 2014, the most recent estimate. The Centers for Disease Control publishes an annual report with detailed abortion statistics from most states. They routinely find that about 1.3% of abortions take place after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If you do the math, that’s 12,000 abortions after 20 weeks every year.

Are 12,000 deaths rare? In 2014, there were 11,008 homicides using a gun in the U.S. Would you describe gun violence as rare?

Often people supporting abortion make an argument like this: if prolife people cared, then they would support gun control. Right to Life of Michigan is completely neutral on issues unrelated to our mission. Gun control groups are similarly neutral on abortion. Late-term abortions are more common than gun homicides, so gun control groups should ignore their mission and help us ban late-term abortions: who would take this suggestion seriously?

Let’s look at some Michigan numbers. The most common late-term abortion procedure in our state is the dismemberment abortion procedure (D&E), used most often between 12 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. In 2017, there were 1,777 dismemberment abortions in Michigan.

In 2017 in Michigan, there were more dismemberment abortions than these all-too-common causes of death: breast cancer, car accidents, colon cancer, homicide, pancreatic cancer, Parkinson’s disease, pneumonia, and suicide.

Would you tell someone who has breast cancer that their disease is rare?

Would you say suicide is so rare that it shouldn’t be addressed as a public policy issue?

If you can’t say those things, then you can’t claim late-term abortions are rare as an excuse to ignore them—or to make a twisted moral justification for them.

Chris Gast
Director of Communication/Education
(616) 532-2300 |