NOTE: This article is one of a series on the “top ten” accomplishments of the pro-life movement over the past 40 years since unborn children were stripped of their legal right to life by the 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court rulings.

In 2010, the Pro-Life Action League infiltrated the Medical Students for Choice (MSFC) national conference, held in Lombard, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, an annual event at which top practitioners try to recruit students to join the abortion trade.

Among the many interesting revelations of this undercover operation was the growing anxiety of abortion providers at their own dwindling numbers.

Desperately seeking recruits

“The younger doctors are apathetic and the old doctors are retiring,” complained MSFC conference speaker Dr. Rachel Phelps, a former pediatrician who now serves as associate medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse Region.

Phelps noted that only 2% of obstetricians perform over 50% of all abortions, and declared that without providers, “abortion may as well be illegal.”

The very existence of Medical Students for Choice bespeaks the recruiting challenges the abortion industry is facing. You’ve never heard of anything like a “Medical Students for Walking Upright” out there, holding quarterly regional gatherings and an annual national conference in an effort to rescue podiatry from decline.

But it’s not just behind closed doors that abortion practitioners are worrying about the lack of new recruits. Phelp’s concerns are echoed by abortionist Kathryn Egglesten in the the cover story of the current issue of Time magazine.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s research wing, the number of U.S. abortion providers decreased 38% between a peak of 2,908 in 1982 to only 1,793 providers in 2008, the most recent year for which data were available.

Who wants to be an abortionist?


Despite efforts like Medical Students for Choice and the official pro-abortion stance of the American Medical Association, most physicians are simply unwilling to be directly involved in abortion.

Data from the Federation of State Medical Boards reveals [PDF] that only 0.2% of physicians provide abortions. That’s only 2 doctors out of a thousand.

A recent survey of 1,144 obstetricians revealed that while 97% said they’d had patients who sought abortions, only 14% percent ever provided them.

Making “abortionist” a dirty word

Why this decline in the number of abortion providers? Why this tremendous difficulty recruiting new abortion providers?

That Time magazine cover story points to only one reason for the dearth of new abortionists: “the specter of protests and unwanted attention.”

In others words, it’s thanks to pro-life activists that most doctors now refuse to do abortions.

For 40 years, we have been peacefully protesting at their abortion clinics—a pro-life presence that has only increased in recent years with initiatives like 40 Days for Life. We’ve picketed their homes.

We’ve made sure that the word “abortion” conjures up the ugly reality of abortion’s victims—abortionists’ victims.

We’ve also shined a light on the malpractice and criminality of which so many abortionists are guilty of.  We’ve made “abortionist” a dirty word.

Now we’re doing the recruiting!

But now I can hear the pro-choice activist objecting, “And you’ve murdered abortionists, too!” Point well taken. The shameful history of anti-abortion vigilantism demands a response.

Of course, this isn’t the place for such a response. I’ll only say here that I’m exploring here the accomplishments of the pro-life movement, which has always disavowed violence.

Our mission is to eliminate abortionists by converting them, not by killing them.

And now their powerful insider testimony is helping to make a career inside the abortion industry less and less attractive.

As we turn the corner on the 40th year since the American abortion profession was legalized, let us vow to build on this important accomplishment of the pro-life movement.

Abortionist Rachel Phelps is right. Once there are no more abortionists, “abortion may as well be illegal.”

We can effectively overturn Roe v. Wade by continuing to make abortion practice as ugly a business as it truly is and reaching out to convert abortionists to the pro-life cause. Let’s do it.

Reprinted with permission from the Pro-life Action League.