by James C. Sherlock
With all of the controversy, it is useful to know the facts of what has been happening with abortions in Virginia.
The Centers for Disease Control conducts abortion surveillance to document the number and characteristics of women obtaining legal induced abortions and the number of abortion-related deaths in the United States.
The last CDC annual abortion surveillance report was for 2019.
It provides useful reference material inasmuch as several of its data tables are broken out by state. I have chosen four: number, age of mother, race/ethnicity and known weeks of gestation.
Three things of note:
- In Virginia, there were 160 abortions for every 1,000 live births.
- As a percentage of abortions, Virginia women have late-term (after 15 weeks) abortions at only about half the rate as women nationally. In Virginia, 2.5% occurred after 15 weeks of gestation — 0.6% after 20 weeks.
- As for race, it is instructive to see that abortion has not strayed far from its American eugenicist roots. It was sterilization at the beginning. Now it is abortion. Black babies are still killed at a disproportionately high rate. But strange differences today are:
- Black executives now largely run Planned Parenthood; and
- Much of the Black press and clergy have joined the hallelujah chorus in support of abortion.
All tabular data below are from CDC’s 2019 abortion surveillance report.
How many? 160 abortions per 1,000 live births.
Abortion is a key reason that Virginia’s population continues to age. From 2010-2020, the percentage of Virginia’s population from 5 to 19 years of age dropped from 19.6% to 18.8%.
In just the two years between 2019 and 2021, the Census Bureau estimates that Black (non-Hispanic) percentage of Virginia’s population dropped from 19.4% to 18.4% while the state’s population grew by about 107,000.
The high incidence of Black abortions and the high rate of accidental and violent deaths of young Black men have taken their toll at the beginning and end of Black lives.
The increase in Virginia’s population from 2019 to 2021 appears to have been driven by childless adults moving to the state.
The increase in the number of adults over 18 made up 83,000 of the 107,000 increase in population. The percentage of children under 5 in the population dropped from 5.9% to 5.6%.
At what age? Virginia women have abortions at somewhat older ages than women nationally.
Race/ethnicity. Nationally in 2019:
- Non-Hispanic White women had the lowest abortion rate (6.6 abortions per 1,000 women) and ratio (117 abortions per 1,000 live births).
- Non-Hispanic Black women had the highest abortion rate (23.8 abortions per 1,000 women) and ratio (386 abortions per 1,000 live births).
- Black women have abortions at roughly 3 to 4 times the rate of white women and twice the rate of Hispanics.
The CDC did not share rate and ratio figures for Virginia.
I note several anomalies:
- Pro-abortion marches appear to be predominantly populated with white women. See The New York Times video celebrating such marches; and
- The Black press in Virginia, most prominently the Richmond Free Press (RFP), stands strongly behind abortion on demand. It has declared the right to an abortion a racial justice issue.
- A significant percentage of Black clergy have signed on. When RFP writes on abortion, they invariably quote a couple of Black clergymen who support it.
- Planned Parenthood, founded by a leader of the eugenics movement, its leadership now heavily Black, even has a Clergy Advocacy Board. Same result — Black babies disproportionately aborted — but the organization has developed a different reason for supporting it. Somehow that issue is racial justice. Go figure.
Weeks of gestation and potential Virginia laws. Then there is this.
If Roe had been overturned and Virginia had a law in 2019 that abortions after 15 weeks were legal only in cases of incest, rape and the life of the mother, 2.5% would have been scrutinized against those permitted exceptions.
We do not know how many would have passed that scrutiny.
If the law had been 20 weeks, the total scrutinized would have been 90 — 0.6% of the nearly 8,000 abortions performed. Again, how many would have passed incest, rape and the life of the mother scrutiny is unknown.
If the law were to ban abortion without exception as some propose, it would have involved nearly 8,000 women in one year.
Bottom line. Those are the data behind the debate.
I am afraid in Virginia that only safe-district General Assembly radicals on both sides of the debate will introduce legislation that virtue signals to their bases without broad appeal.
Perhaps the governor can find middle ground.