Abortions in Pennsylvania down for 2002, bishops reveal

.- As a result of intense pro-life activity, the number of abortions in the state of Pennsylvania declined in 2002 by nearly five percent, but that’s no reason for pro-life Pennsylvanians to rest on their heels, says the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC).

Even though the state’s annual health statistics show that 35,167 abortions were done in Pennsylvania in 2002, that number is a 4.5 percent drop from the number of abortions in 2001.

Other 2002 statistics compiled by the state’s Department of Health indicate that 45 percent of abortions were done on women who have had one or more previous abortions; 55.6 percent of all abortions performed in Pennsylvania were to white women and 14,330 or 40.7 percent were to black women. (Black Pennsylvanians represent roughly 12 percent of the Commonwealth's population.).

However, the percentage of abortions among teenagers age 17 and younger has remained the same, accounting for 6.3 percent or 2,206 abortions in 2002.

"I was relieved to see that the upward trend we saw starting with the 2000 statistics has come to an end," said PCC executive director Dr. Robert J. O'Hara, Jr. in a press release, issued Dec. 9.

"We are confident that if women are presented with more information on the growing life within them and the many resources available to help them continue their pregnancy and raise their child, these numbers can be greatly reduced," he said.

PCC Social Concerns Department director Francis Viglietta said that while the reduction in abortions is encouraging, pro-life Pennsylvanians should not be complacent about the numbers of abortions performed. "Thirty-five thousand babies annually are being denied their right to life. Thirty-five thousand women are not getting the support that they need. Thousands more are grieving the loss of these babies," said Viglietta.

One program that has been successfully reaching out to women in crisis pregnancies is Project Women in Need (WIN), which is administered by the Department of Public Welfare. Project WIN promotes women's health and well being during and after pregnancy and offers care to the child, before and after birth.

"Behind each of these statistics is a story of how we've failed to meet the needs of a woman and her child so that a baby could be welcomed with joy," said O'Hara. "There are a variety of legitimate ways to try to reduce abortions. Assisting pregnant women is a loving, compassionate, and effective way to do so."

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