May 6, 2022

Abortion rates and the number of overall abortion procedures have been declining in the U.S. over the last decade, data show.

But if you were watching a May 3 segment of Fox News’ The Five, you might have walked away with a much different impression as Judge Jeanine Pirro dramatically overstated how many abortions are performed each year. “And my stats that I have,” she said, “are that there are 63 million abortions a year in this country. Those are the stats that I heard. That’s a little too much!”

Indeed, in a nation where the U.S. Census shows the population of women considered to be of estimated child-bearing age (15 to 44) is about 64.5 million, that would be rather surprising.

The actual estimated number of abortions performed in the U.S. each year is much lower than what Pirro claimed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated 629,898 abortions occurred in 2019. The CDC collects data from state health departments that volunteer the information. This 2019 total does not include data from California, Maryland or New Hampshire.

Approximately 862,320 abortions were reported in 2017, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that promotes reproductive health and abortion access. Guttmacher’s 2017 report is the organization’s most recent analysis of abortion data collected from health care facilities that perform the operation.

The number of abortions performed each year has been steadily declining over the last decade, according to the Guttmacher Institute. From 2011 to 2014, the number of abortions conducted dropped by 6%. From 2014 to 2017, the number of abortions decreased another 7%.

When PolitiFact reached out to Fox News for comment, a spokesperson said Pirro was referencing a Fox News article that reported 63 million abortions have occurred in the U.S. since the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide. That’s a significant distinction Pirro did not make on the show; she said there were 63 million abortions “a year.”

The Fox News article cited an analysis by the National Right to Life Committee as the source for the 63 million estimated abortions over the last 49 years. The NRLC says it made this estimation based on data from the Guttmacher Institute and the CDC.

The Guttmacher Institute told PolitiFact that it has not compiled the total number of legal abortions performed since 1973, but it has estimated the pregnancy, birth and abortion rates for women aged 15-44 from 1973 to 2017.

Our ruling

On a May 2 Fox News segment, Pirro said, “there are 63 million abortions a year in this country.”

This claim vastly overstates the number of abortions conducted in the U.S. each year. The Guttmacher Institute reported there were roughly 862,320 abortions in 2017. CDC puts the 2019 figure at around 629,898.

Pirro appears to have inaccurately referenced an estimation made by the NRLC that 63 million abortions have been performed since the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down in 1973.

We rate this claim False.

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for this fact check here and more of their fact checks here.

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Sara Swann is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. For two and a half years, she covered voting rights, money in politics, gerrymandering and…
Sara Swann

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