NRL News

Abortion numbers from CDC show steady decline in overall number of abortions since 2009

by | Dec 1, 2020

By Laura Echevarria, NRL Director of Communications and Press Secretary

WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, November 25th, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its annual “Abortion Surveillance Report” for the year 2018. Based on an in-depth analysis by National Right to Life’s Department of Education and Research, the numbers continue to show a steady decline in abortions since 2009, although the 2018 survey shows a slight increase in abortions compared to the previous survey.

“While it looks like, in the long-term, abortions are definitely down, there may be a small increase in the number, rate, and ratio of abortions since the CDC’s last full surveillance report in 2016,” said Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., Director of Education and Research for National Right to Life.

Relying on reports from health departments across the country, the CDC reported 619,591 abortions for 2018. While it is an indication of abortion trends,  the 2018 CDC abortion 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.

However, this  2018 number does include abortions reported from the District of Columbia. Note that DC had not reported abortion numbers to the CDC for 2016. 

So in comparing the number of abortion, the CDC used the figure of 614,820 abortions—a number which excludes the District’s abortion figures for 2018–because the CDC had not received abortion data from the District for the year 2016. 

In 2018, the CDC found that both the abortion rate, (the number of abortions for every 1,000 women of child-bearing age) and the abortion ratio (the number of abortions per 1,000 live births) were among the lowest seen since 2009. In the reporting areas included in the report, the CDC found an abortion rate of 11.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years. The CDC found a ratio of 189 abortions per 1,000 live births. 

However, compared to reported numbers in 2017, the CDC noted, “the total number and rate of reported abortions increased by 1%, and the abortion ratio increased by 2%.” The CDC also noted the implementation in 2016 of revised FDA guidelines that allow the use of the abortion drug mifepristone as late as 10 weeks in pregnancy. The use of mifepristone increased 9% between 2017 and 2018.

“The use of the chemical abortion method using mifepristone appears to be on the rise in many states, now accounting for about 40% of all abortions in states where the numbers were measured by the CDC,” said Dr. O’Bannon. “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 protections for women undergoing a chemical abortion.”

“We are grateful that more women are rejecting abortion and choosing life for their unborn children,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “However, the abortion industry, led by Planned Parenthood, continues to perform hundreds of thousands of abortions every year, putting the lives of women at risk and destroying their unborn babies.”

The full report from the CDC can be found here.