Why the CDC’s annual abortion numbers are understated

first trimester, pro-life, abortion, Nebraska

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released its report on the number of annual abortions in the United States, and according to the organization’s data, abortions in the U.S. have hit their lowest level since Roe v. Wade. But what many have noticed is that the CDC’s number is significantly lower than the actual total of abortions in the U.S. Here’s why.

Both the CDC and the private Guttmacher Institute publish national abortion totals; however, the numbers are vastly different. Live Action News has previously explained some of the reasons for the variation:

  • The CDC gathers information from states which require reporting. The CDC admits that “although reporting to CDC is voluntary, most reporting areas provide their abortion numbers.” California, Maryland, and New Hampshire do not report their numbers to the CDC.
  • Guttmacher gathers its figures from surveys which it claims it sends directly to all known abortion facilities, categorized by type.

Additionally, laws regulating who reports are not consistent across the nation but are governed by the states. Some states (like California) do not have any requirement to report abortions at all, while others report on a host of categories with regard to abortion numbers. This makes for a great deal of inconsistency in abortion reporting.

Live Action News generally quotes Planned Parenthood’s abortion market share based on the more complete published abortion totals from the Guttmacher Institute, which is what leads us to estimate Planned Parenthood’s total abortion market share at approximately 35%, which makes the abortion chain the largest single abortion vendor in the country.


READ: Six things you should know about how abortion statistics are reported

What statistics from both agencies show, though drastically different, is that while profitable abortions are on a steady decline nationally, Planned Parenthood’s percentage of the abortion market share seems to have been on a steady increase over the past decade or so.

CDC: In 2014, 652,639 abortions were reported to the CDC from 49 reporting areas, excluding California, Maryland, and New Hampshire. In 2015, the number of abortions decreased to 638,169 for the same reporting areas.

Guttmacher: The former “special affiliate” of Planned Parenthood annually (usually each January) publishes significantly higher and more complete abortion totals than those reported by the CDC. Guttmacher has not yet published its abortion totals for 2015. It did, however, report 926,200 abortions for 2014, according to statistics published in January of 2018.

Planned Parenthood: Planned Parenthood’s annual reports include its total number of abortions. Those reports usually come out at the end of each year, but the most recent report for 2016-2017 wasn’t released until February of 2018. Planned Parenthood committed 323,999 abortions in 2014, 328,348 abortions in 2015, and 321,384 abortions in 2016.

From 2006 to 2016, abortions at Planned Parenthood increased nearly 11 percent, averaging more than 320,000 abortions per year, while its other health services have been decreasing.

Image: Planned Parenthood Decreasing Services 2006 to 2016 (Image: Live Action News)

Planned Parenthood Decreasing Services 2006 to 2016 (Image: Live Action News)

Planned Parenthood receives over half a billion dollars in taxpayer funding annually and recently published plans to expand abortion in the United States.

Author’s Note: Live Action president Lila Rose is calling on the Trump administration and pro-life members of Congress to fulfill their campaign promises to defund Planned Parenthood of taxpayers dollars before the U.S. House is turned over to a pro-abortion majority in January. Read more here.

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