Abortions have dropped 50 percent since 1980, reveals new CDC report

pregnant, maternity, abortion, Latino, CDC Hyde Amendment, birth control

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) just released its latest (2016) data on reported abortions which reveals a 50 percent drop in the United States in abortion since 1980. According to the November 2019 report, a total of 623,471 abortions for 2016 were reported to the CDC from 48 reporting areas. Using numbers from “continuous reporting areas,” the data showed that between 2007 and 2016, the total number of reported abortions, abortion rate (abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years), and abortion ratio (abortions per 1,000 live births) “reached their lowest level for the entire period of analysis (2007–2016).”

Image: CDC abortion stats 2007 to 2016

CDC abortion stats 2007 to 2016

Dr. Michael New, Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science and Social Research at The Catholic University of America and Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, told Live Action News, “Overall, the news is good for pro-lifers.” He did a quick analysis and found:

  • Both the number of abortions and the abortion rate have fallen by approximately 2 percent (from 636,902) since 2015.
  • The decline was widespread, as 33 of the 46 states that reported abortion data by state of occurrence saw their abortion numbers fall.
  • The U.S. abortion rate has fallen by 25% [CDC reports 24%] percent since 2007 (825,240).
  • The U.S. abortion rate has fallen by approximately 50 percent since 1980.

A few key points from the report are listed below.

Abortions By Gestational Age: 

The CDC report for 2016 used data for 41 reporting areas to break down abortions by gestation. The numbers exclude 11 areas (California, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York State, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) that did not report, did not report by gestational age, or did not meet reporting standards, the CDC states.

  • Less than 8 weeks (65.5%) – 282,692
  • 9-13 weeks (25.5%)- 110,125
  • 14-15 weeks (3.6%) – 15,602
  • 16-17 weeks (2.1%) – 9,089
  • 18-20 weeks (2%) – 8,454
  • Greater than 21 weeks (1.2%) – 5,303

In 2016, almost two-thirds (65.5%) of abortions were performed at ≤8 weeks’ gestation, and nearly all (91.0%) were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation. Fewer abortions were performed between 14 and 20 weeks’ gestation (7.7%) or at ≥21 weeks’ gestation (1.2%). During 2007–2016, the percentage of abortions performed at >13 weeks’ gestation remained consistently low (8.2%–9.0%). Among abortions performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation, the percentage distributions of abortions by gestational age were highest among those performed at ≤6 weeks’ gestation (35.0%–38.4%).

Late-term abortions:

According to CDC’s numbers 38,448 abortions were reported past the first trimester. And, although gestational ages are not reported by all states, we can estimate that, according to the CDC percentage of 1.2%, up to 7,481 abortions were committed at 21 weeks or later in 2016.

(Guttmacher Institute’s latest data for 2017 reveal even higher late-term abortion numbers.)

Abortion Methods:

Known abortion method reports came from 43 reporting areas and excluded nine reporting areas (California, District of Columbia, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Wyoming) that did not report, did not report by method type, or did not meet reporting standards.

Image: CDC abortion stats by known method surgical and medication 2016

CDC abortion stats by known method surgical and medication 2016

‘Medication Abortion’ (Abortion Pill) Numbers: 

The report refers to the abortion pill regimen as “medication abortion” and “medical abortion.” In 2016, 162,622 of these abortions were reported to the CDC. The 2016 report indicates that “27.9% of all abortions were performed by early medical abortion (a nonsurgical abortion at ≤8 weeks’ gestation) and 3.4% were performed by medical abortion at >8 weeks.”

In addition, CDC states that, “Among those that were eligible for early medical abortion on the basis of gestational age (i.e., performed at ≤8 weeks’ gestation), 41.9% were completed by this method.”

The CDC also noted an increase in reported abortions by pill, writing, “the percentage of abortions at 9 completed weeks’ gestation that were reported as medical abortions increased. Although the percentage of abortions at 9 weeks’ gestation reported as medical abortions did not change substantially between 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 (5.0%, 5.7%, 6.7%, and 7.7%, respectively), this percentage increased to 13.0% in 2015 and 24.0% in 2016.”

(In 2017, Guttmacher reported 339,640 abortions by pill out of 862,320 total reported abortions.)

Surgical Abortions:

In 2016, the CDC reports 59.9% of abortions were done surgically at ≤13 weeks’ gestation. 8.8% were done by surgical abortion at >13 weeks’ gestation.

Abortions by Race/Ethnicity:

Thirty-two (32) areas reported cross-classified race/ethnicity data for 2016 as follows:

  • Non-Hispanic white women accounted for 35% of reported abortions.
  • Non-Hispanic black women accounted for 38% of reported abortions.
  • Hispanic women accounted for 18.8% of reported abortions.
  • Non-Hispanic women in the other race category accounted 8.2% of reported abortions.

Black women also had the highest abortion rate in 2016:

  • Non-Hispanic white women had the lowest abortion rate (6.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years) and ratio (109 abortions per 1,000 live births)
  • Non-Hispanic black women had the highest abortion rate (25.1 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years) and ratio (401 abortions per 1,000 live births).

CDC abortions by race 2016

Data for relevant years of comparison (2007 versus 2016, 2007 versus 2011, 2012 versus 2016, and 2015 versus 2016) reveals the abortion rate decreased the most among Hispanic women:

  • Non-Hispanic white women, the abortion rate decreased 33% (from 9.4 abortions per 1,000 women in 2007 to 6.3 in 2016).
  • Non-Hispanic black women, the rate decreased 29% (from 36.7 abortions per 1,000 women in 2007 to 26.2 in 2016).
  • Hispanic women, the rate decreased 44% (from 21.2 abortions per 1,000 women in 2007 to 11.8 in 2016).

(2015 data here)

Abortion Deaths:

Tragically, the report also noted, “In 2015… two women were identified to have died as a result of complications from legal induced abortion and for one additional death, it was unknown whether the abortion was induced or spontaneous.” The CDC has not updated abortion deaths for 2016 yet.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) collects information the states provide, but due to a wide variety of state requirements on abortions, the CDC fails to report abortion numbers for a number of states. Guttmacher numbers are more comprehensive since they gather their information directly from abortion providers. Live Action News’ analysis of the CDC’s latest abortion numbers can be found here.

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