Communications Department

2020 Abortion Numbers from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Show a Decline

Nov 23, 2022 | 2022 Press Releases, Press Releases, Press Room

WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its annual “Abortion Surveillance Report” for the year 2020. The numbers showed a decline in abortions from the 2019 survey and a continuing steady decline in abortion numbers since 2011.

The numbers reported by the CDC are confusing when compared to the numbers from the Guttmacher Institute because the CDC shows a decrease in the number of abortions while Guttmacher showed an increase for the same year. Relying on reports from health departments across the country, the CDC reported 620,327 abortions for 2020 compared to 629,898 abortions for 2019. While it is an indication of abortion trends, this figure does not provide a complete picture of abortion in the United States. California, the nation’s most populous state, New Hampshire, and Maryland do not report abortion data to the CDC.

The numbers reported today are all from 2020, two years prior to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that reversed Roe v. Wade.

“During 2020, federal agencies, state, and local governments were seeking to save lives with masks, COVID tests, and vaccines while abortion clinics were destroying the lives of unborn babies every day,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “Those who advocate for more and more abortions clearly don’t care about unborn babies or their mothers.”

Tragically, based on today’s report, the number of chemical abortions performed less than or at 9 weeks’ gestation has risen to 51%.

In 2020, in the reporting areas included in the report, the CDC found an abortion rate of 11.2 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years which is a decrease of 2%. The CDC found a ratio of 198 abortions per 1,000 live births which is an increase of 2% from 2019.

“The pro-life movement is encouraged that abortion numbers have been greatly reduced from a peak of 1.6 million in 1980 and still remain below one million. Even with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs that reversed Roe v. Wade, the pro-life movement recognizes that there is still much work to be done to protect innocent unborn babies and their mothers,” said Tobias.

In 2016, the FDA revised its guidelines to allow the use of the abortion drug mifepristone as late as 10 weeks in pregnancy. According to the CDC’s report for 2020, 53.4%[1] of abortions were chemical abortions.

“The use of the chemical abortion method appears to be on the rise,” said Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., director of Education and Research for National Right to Life. “The number of chemical abortions might be lower if women were told the truth about the deaths and injuries associated with chemical abortion methods. Instead, the abortion industry peddles lies about the ease of the method and pushes for fewer and fewer protections for women undergoing a chemical abortion.”

Dr. O’Bannon continued, “Promoters of these pills like to trumpet high safety rates, but neglect to mention how that with hundreds of thousands of women taking these pills, even a couple of percentage points of women hemorrhaging, dealing with infections, and ectopic pregnancy, represents thousands of women desperately seeking treatment, which may or may not be nearby.”

The full report from the CDC can be found here.

Founded in 1968, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the federation of affiliates in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia and more than 3,000 local chapters, is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots pro-life organization. Recognized as the flagship of the pro-life movement, National Right to Life works through legislation and education to protect innocent human life from abortion, infanticide, assisted suicide and euthanasia.


[1] The CDC report splits chemical abortion numbers into two categories: those occurring less than or equal to 9 weeks gestation (51.0%) and those occurring after 9 weeks gestation (2.4%). Together, these percentages total 53.4%.