The total number of COVID-19 deaths thus far exceeds the number of abortions over two days worldwide
The number of abortions occurring worldwide over two days is roughly 400,000, based on annual estimates from between 2015 and 2019 from a study published in July 2020 in the journal The Lancet Global Health. Although the global number of abortions carried out over two days did exceed the total number of COVID-19 deaths reported in March 2020, when this claim surfaced, the number of deaths from COVID-19 has been growing steadily over time. In fact, the global number of COVID-19 deaths approached and crossed the 400,000 mark in June 2020. Therefore, this comparison is no longer accurate.
Inaccurate: The claim was true during the early stages of pandemic in March 2020, but posts that have continued to make this claim after June are inaccurate, given that the total number of COVID-19 deaths has grown over time and now exceeds the total number of abortions worldwide over two days.
Facebook posts comparing the total number of deaths from COVID-19 with the number of abortions worldwide have circulated since at least March 2020 (see example). Similar posts once again went viral in September 2020, albeit in a slightly different form (see example), claiming that more abortions occur in two days “than all the coronavirus deaths thus far.” Here, we examine whether this claim is accurate for both March and September 2020.
An abortion is defined as a medical procedure to end a pregnancy. This procedure can be performed via surgical or medical means. The global number of abortions that occurred between 2015 and 2019 was estimated at 73.3 million annually, according to a study published in July 2020 in the journal The Lancet Global Health. Based on this estimate, approximately 400,000 abortions occur every two days.
In early March 2020, there were 2,977 deaths from COVID-19 worldwide, according to the weekly situation report published by the World Health Organization. This report provides an epidemiological overview of the COVID-19 pandemic. By the end of March, 36,405 deaths were reported. On 6 September 2020, there were about 900,000 deaths from COVID-19 worldwide, according to the report.
Comparing these data with the estimated number of abortions that occur over two days, it is clear that the claim was true during the early stages of the pandemic in March, but no longer accurate in September, as the number of deaths from COVID-19 has increased steadily over time. In fact, the number of COVID-19 deaths worldwide approached the 400,000 mark by 7 June 2020 and had already crossed that mark by 14 June 2020, according to the WHO’s situation reports (see the full list of situation reports here).
- 1 – Bearak et al. (2020) Unintended pregnancy and abortion by income, region, and the legal status of abortion: estimates from a comprehensive model for 1990–2019. The Lancet Global Health.