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Fact Sheet: A Summary of the CDC’s 2021 Abortion Surveillance Report

by | Dec 21, 2023

By Mia Steupert, M.A., and Tessa Longbons

OVERVIEW OF 2021 ABORTION TRENDS

  • Keeping with tradition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its annual abortion surveillance report the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, detailing 2021 abortion data in 48 reporting areas (46 states, NYC, and D.C.).
  • There were 625,918 total abortions reported in 2021.
  • From 2020 to 2021, the total number of abortions rose 5% in the 48 reporting areas while chemical abortions rose by 9% among the45 reporting areas that reported abortions by method type in both 2020 and 2021.

OVERALL TRENDS

  • There were 316,604 reported chemical abortions, which composed 56% of total abortions for which the method was reported (565,312) in 2021.
  • The states with the largest absolute increases in abortion totals from 2020 to 2021 include Illinois (+5,554)Florida (+4,949), and Georgia (+4,300). The states with the largest percentage increases include South Dakota (+54%)West Virginia (+37%), and Utah (+32%).[1]
  • The states with the largest absolute decreases in abortion totals from 2020 to 2021 include Texas (-3,272), Washington state (-560), and Washington, D.C. (-546). The states with the largest percentage decreases include Delaware (-20%), Rhode Island (-17%), and Vermont (-16%).
  • As in previous years, the CDC did not adjust Florida abortion data from post-fertilization age to gestational age. When this adjustment is made, an estimated 1% of all abortions occurred at 21 weeks of gestation or later.

DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS

  • In 2021, six women were reported to have died from legal induced abortion. This is an increase from 2020 when there were four reported deaths from legal induced abortions and the highest total since 2016.
  • In 2021, the majority of abortions were obtained by:
  • Women in their twenties (57%)
  • Black women (42%), with an abortion rate (28.6) 4.5 times the white abortion rate of 6.4
  • Non-Hispanic women (78%)
  • Unmarried women (87%)
  • Women with zero previous abortions (57%).

DATA DISCREPANCIES

  • 47 reporting areas have reported continuously from 2012-2021, but California, Maryland, and New Hampshire continue to not report any data to the CDC.
  • New Jersey also did not report any data to the CDC and does not plan to in the future.[2]

CONCLUSIONS

The trends reported by the CDC correspond with CLI estimates calculated using state abortion data. CLI’s calculations showed a 5% increase in total abortions and an 8% increase in chemical abortions, mirroring the figures reported by the CDC.


[1] Oklahoma initially reported 3,797 total abortions in 2020 to the CDC, then later corrected this to be 5,702 total abortions. The 5,702 figure can be found on the data dashboard used by the state’s Department of Health, OK2Share, when filtered for 2020 occurrence totals. This means the percentage increase from 2020-2021 is actually 28%, which is why the state is not included in this bullet point.

[2] Email communication between Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) and New Jersey Department of Health (July 2023).

Editor’s note. This appears at the Charlotte Lozier Institute.