Analysis

New CDC report: Later abortions occur far more often than public is led to believe

Despite media and abortion advocates’ claims, later abortions are not as rare as the public is led to believe, nor are they only committed on unhealthy babies. Live Action’s undercover investigations have captured footage of late-term abortionists admitting as much.

A new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that in 2018, an estimated 50,000 abortions were committed at 14 weeks or later, with nearly 6,200 of those committed at or over 21 weeks — the point at which some premature babies have survived with assistance. The report also showed that the number of later abortions increased by four percent from just two years prior (2016). In 2017, the Guttmacher Institute, which publishes more comprehensive abortion totals, reported an estimated 100,000 later abortions that year.

There is no federal requirement to report abortions, and no requirement to report abortions by gestation. The CDC received abortion gestation statistics in 2018 from 42 reporting areas, one more than in 2016. According to the 2018 report, 509,662 abortions out of a total of 619,591 reported gestational age. The data showed that 39,979 abortions at 14 weeks or greater were reported in 2018, an increase of nearly four percent over the 38,448 later abortions reported in 2016.

Several states, including California, Washington D.C., Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Wyoming either did not report by gestational age or did not meet reporting standards in 2018.

Image: Reported abortions by gestation later abortions CDC 2016 and 2018

Reported abortions by gestation later abortions CDC 2016 and 2018

Neither the CDC nor the Guttmacher Institute (a former “special affiliate” of Planned Parenthood) break down abortions past 21 weeks, but they both acknowledge that late-term abortions committed at 21 weeks or later represent 1-1.3% of all reported abortions.

This is no small number.

To better understand, take, for example, the reported deaths for people of all ages published by the CDC’s National Vital Statistics Reports. Reportedly, 2,813,503 total deaths took place in the United States in 2017. Of those deaths were homicide s (19,510), murders from firearms (14,542), suicides from firearms (23,854) alcohol-liver disease (22,246), and leukemia (23,359). Each of these causes of death individually comprised less than one percent of all reported deaths in 2017. Parkinson’s disease (31,963), alcohol-induced deaths (35,823), and deaths from falls (36,338) each individually comprised less than 1.3% of all reported deaths.

When you look at the raw numbers, it is much easier to see the human cost.

READ: Who, where, why, and how many? Answers to your top four questions about late-term abortion

Later Abortion Estimates 

CDC 2018: There were a reported 5,341 abortions at or after 21 weeks of pregnancy, comprising one percent of those reported by gestation. Based on this, Live Action News estimates that close to 50,000 abortions (48,948) were committed in the second trimester or later with nearly 6,200 estimated after 21 weeks of pregnancy. The estimated numbers (below) are calculated by using reported percentages times the total number (619,591) of reported abortions in 2018:

  • 9 weeks or less: (77.7%) – 481,422 estimated
  • 13 weeks or less: (92.2%) – 571,263 estimated
  • 14-20 weeks: (6.9%) – 42,752 estimated
  • 21 weeks or greater: (1.0%) – 6,196 estimated

Guttmacher 2017: In September of 2019, the Guttmacher Institute published abortion statistics showing that 862,320 abortions were reported to them in 2017. According to the data, two-thirds of abortions occurred at eight weeks or earlier. The graph below (2016) gives us some indication on the percentages of later abortions. Using Guttmacher’s reported abortion numbers we discover that over 100,000 (100,891) estimated abortions took place in the second trimester or later in 2017. Out of that number, over 11,000 were committed at 21 weeks or greater.

  • 8 weeks or less (65.4%) – 563,957 abortions
  • 9-10 weeks (14.7%) – 126,761 abortions
  • 11-12 weeks (8.2%) – 70,710 abortions
  • 13-15 weeks (6.3%) – 54,326 abortions
  • 16-20 weeks (4.1%) – 35,355 abortions
  • At or greater than 21 weeks (1.3%) – 11,210 abortions
Image: Guttmacher 2016 abortion by trimester (Graph: Guttmacher Institute)

Guttmacher 2016 abortion by trimester (Graph: Guttmacher Institute)

According to Guttmacher’s latest report, “Seventy-two percent [72%] of clinics offered abortions up to 12 weeks’ gestation in 2014, 25% up to 20 weeks and 10% up to 24 weeks.”

There are facilities which provide abortions even later in gestation. Planned Parenthood, for its part, commits elective abortions up to the 24th week and opposes late-term abortion restrictions.

Data from a handful of states that publish their third trimester abortion numbers revealed that Florida recorded one “elective” third trimester abortion in 2017 and one in 2018. Between 2006 and 2016, Idaho reported five abortions committed in the third trimester. In 2014 alone, Iowa reported one abortion after 29 weeks and hundreds from 14-28 weeks.

In 2018, Michigan reported six abortions from 25-28 weeks and one at 28 weeks or later. In 2015, Michigan reported 36 abortions at 25-28 weeks and 21 at 28 weeks and later. The year prior (2014), the state recorded 41 abortions at 25-28 weeks and 18 at 28 weeks or later. And in Colorado, Live Action News previously reported:

The state reports an average of 3.3 percent of late-term abortions each year, second only to New Mexico. According to Catholic News Agency, the state typically reports between 200-300 late-term abortions each year. This is consistent with a report by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which found that there were 323 abortions in Colorado after 21 weeks in 2018… The Charlotte Lozier Institute says there have been almost 4,000 late-term abortions in Colorado since 2003.

An analysis of state laws on abortion published by Guttmacher in December 2020 reveals that “43 states prohibit some abortions after a certain point in pregnancy.”

Despite complicity from the media with the profitable abortion industry, an unearthed media report previously revealed that the abortion industry has commonly deceived the media and public on reasons and numbers of gruesome late-term abortion procedures. An abortion training lecture series from the University of California-San Francisco claimed women who abort later in pregnancy do not do so primarily for health reasons. In addition, Live Action News previously documented abortion industry insider admissions that abortion later in pregnancy is frequently committed on healthy babies and some babies are born alive during later abortions. These testimonies combined with the data show that later abortions occur far more often than the public is led to believe.

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