Abortions in Pennsylvania drop, but activists remain concerned


    Abortions in Pennsylvania have decreased since 1980, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Yet, pro-life activists in the Erie area remain troubled by the 31,818 abortions performed in the commonwealth in 2015.

The Department of Health’s recently released report covers data from 2015, the last year in which complete statistics are available.

The 2015 numbers represent 308 fewer abortions than in 2014.

Amy Hill, director of communications for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, wrote recently that the Department of Health figures don’t speak to what she called “the gruesome reality of abortion.”

In a column penned for the PCC, the public affairs agency of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops, Hill outlined the distressing methods used to perform abortion (medical/non-surgical, suction curettage, and dilation and evacuation).

“Abortion is the defining political controversy of our time; but do we know and understand its real human cost?” Hill wrote.

She added: “A new legislative session has begun in Harrisburg presenting fresh opportunities to shape pro-life public policy. With faith, perseverance, and the courage to tell the truth, abolitionists in the 19th century outlawed slavery. Will citizens 150 years from now say the same about us and abortion?”

Erin Landini-Grogan, director of the Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Erie, noted that there are no abortion clinics within the geographical boundaries of the 13-county diocese. However, women here are still seeking abortions elsewhere.

“I only hope that we could live in a society that values the unborn and protects women while they are pregnant,” Landini-Grogan said. “There are many pregnancy resource centers in our diocese that give women life-affirming options and help them as they journey through their pregnancies.”

The Department of Health report shows that women who live in each of the 13 counties of the diocese sought out and carried through on an abortion in 2015. (See the chart above.) Most of those women (184) live in Erie County.

Of all the abortions performed in Pennsylvania in 2015, 82 percent were in four counties: Allegheny, Dauphin, Northhampton and Philadelphia. Those procedures took place at 21 hospitals and 19 non-hospital facilities statewide.

“The statistics serve as a reminder that we are all called to protect the dignity of life from the moment of conception to natural death,” Landini-Grogan said.

Tim Broderick, president of Erie’s People for Life, added that the number of abortions has been dropping, in part because of new pro-life laws enacted by individual states, including Pennsylvania.

“Until the government fulfills its fundamental obligation to secure equal protection under the law for all, including children prior to birth, the injustice of abortion will most certainly continue,” Broderick said.

Under Pennsylvania’s Abortion Control Act, the state Department of Health is required to prepare and distribute annually a comprehensive report on abortion.

The 2015 report can be read in its entirety at www.health.pa.gov, under the heading “PA Health Statistics.”