By Kathleen Gilbert

NEW YORK, July 31, 2009 ( – The Center for Reproductive Rights has issued a report blaming pro-life activism and a growing “stigma” surrounding abortion for a steady decline in the procedure across the U.S., and is calling upon the U.S. government to help expand abortion by eradicating pro-life laws.

Nancy Northup, the center's president, said physicians and clinics providing abortions have fallen by 25% since the 1990s – a decline it blamed on the pro-life presence outside the businesses of abortionists, whom the group upheld as “human rights defenders.” (To see the CRR document “Defending Human Rights,” click here.)

The report also targets legal restrictions on abortion, including the 24-hour waiting period and regulations for cleanliness in abortion clinics, and called upon federal, state, and local governments to abolish such laws as restricting the “constitutional right” to abortion.

“The Center for Reproductive Rights encourages the government at all levels to adopt and enforce measures to improve the safety of providers and to eliminate laws that impede their work,” stated the report. 

In particular, the group called for the repeal of the Hyde amendment, which restricts Medicaid from funding abortions.  According to the Guttmacher Institute, such rules prohibiting public abortion funding save the lives of about one out of every three children who would have been aborted had public funds been available.

In response to the growing popularity of the pro-life movement – over half of participants in a recent Gallup poll considered themselves “pro-life” – the group called for active promotion of abortion as a mainstream health care procedure.

“Because abortion is not integrated into mainstream healthcare, it is marginalized and perceived as 'dirty' and outside of normal medical practice,” complained the group. 

However, pro-life analysts believe the decline in physicians providing abortion can be traced to growing awareness of the repulsive nature of the procedure itself, rather than an imposed “stigma.”

“I think they [abortionists] have been diminishing in number for years because this is the type of trade that is contrary to the reason that people go to medical school,” Mary Spaulding Balch, state legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, told the Catholic News Agency.  After all, she noted, most medical students enter the profession with a desire to save life, not destroy it.

Because of advances in ultrasound technology and fetal surgery, Spaulding Balch said that younger doctors “are understanding the unborn child as the second patient.”

Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, noted how the report's timing coincided with the push on Capitol Hill to fund and provide insurance for abortion in President Obama's vast health care overhaul.
“I can't help but think it's nothing more than an attempt to scare the American people away from being informed and concerned about the massive abortion mandates that are in the proposed health care reform bills and that will remain there unless explicitly excluded,” Culp told the Kansas City Star.