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CDC abortion data:

An agency of the federal government, the Division of Reproductive Health of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has collected legal abortion data since 1969. They receive information from 52 reporting areas -- the 50 states, the District of Columbia, & New York City. They issue an annual Abortion Surveillance report. They do not report on illegal abortions, for obvious reasons. Such abortions are probably increasing significantly in numbers in recent years because many states have passed parental consent and notification laws.

The CDC defines a legal induced abortion as "a procedure, performed by a licensed physician or someone acting under the supervision of a licensed physician, that was intended to terminate a suspected or known intrauterine pregnancy and to produce a nonviable fetus at any gestational age."

No up-to-date abortion information is available. The CDC typically issues their report in the middle of each year, to cover data three or four years previously. For example, they issued a report for 1996 in 1999-JUL-30.

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Historical CDC data from 1970 to 1995:

bulletNumbers of abortions: This is the total number of legal abortions reported in the U.S.:
bullet1970 to 1980: The number of abortions increased every year.
bullet1981 to 1982: The number stabilized, increasing by only about 0.2% a year. 
bullet1983 to 1990: Significant growth resumed, with increases of up to 5% per year
bullet1990 to 1995: The number decreased every year.
bulletAbortion ratio: This is the number of legal abortions per 1,000 live births.
bullet1970 to 1984: The ratio increased, reaching a peak of 364 in 1984
bullet1985 to 1995: The ratio decreased steadily to 311 in 1995
bulletAbortion rate: This is the number of legal abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 years:
bullet1970 to 1980: The rate increased from 5 to 25.
bullet1981 to 1992: The rate remained stable at 23 to 24.
bullet1993 to 1995: The rate steadily declined to 20.
bulletDeath rate as a result of abortion: "...deaths [from complications] related to legal induced abortions occurred rarely." There were fewer than one death due to complications per 100,000 legal abortions. From 1993 to 1997, the case-fatality rate was 0.6 deaths per 100,000 abortions. This is much lower than the rate of maternal deaths for completed pregnancies. Having a legal abortion is safer, on average, than completing the pregnancy. 1 Abortions that are performed early in pregnancy lead to far fewer complications than abortions done later.

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Recent CDC data from 1995 to 1999:

Item 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
Total abortions 1 1,211 1,222 900 884 6 862 6 857
Decrease in total abortions over previous year 4.5% -0.9% 5 3.3% 2% 6 2.5% 6 0.5%
% of abortions performed on women under 20 years of age 20.1 20.3% 20.1% 19.8% 19.2% 18.8%
% of abortions on women 20 to 24 years 32.5% 31.8% 31.7% 31.8 32.2 33%
Number of deaths 2 ? 10   10 4 -
% unmarried women 80.3% 80.4% 81.0% 81.1% 80.8 81%
Average abortion ratio 3 311 314 274 264 256 246
Abortion rate 4 20 20 17 17 17 16
% of abortions under 9 weeks gestation 54.0 54.6% 55.4% 55.7% 57.6% 58%
% of abortions under 13 weeks gestation 88% 87% 88.1 88.1% 88.0% 88%
% of abortions over 20 weeks gestation 1.4% 1.5% 1.4% 1.4% 1.5% 1.4
Date report issued ? 1999-JUL 2000-DEC 2002-JUN 2002-NOV 2003?

Notes for the above table:

  1. In thousands.
  2. This row gives the number of deaths due to complications from legal induced abortions.
  3. Abortion ratio is the number of legal induced abortions per 1,000 live births.
  4. Abortion rate is the number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 years.
  5. The total number of legal abortions in the U.S. increased by 0.89% from 1995 to 1996. However, this number is deceptive, since the national population increased by about 0.92% from mid-1995 to mid-1996. 6 Thus, the number of abortions per-capita may have actually decreased slightly.
  6. These values were heavily influenced by missing data from Alaska, California, New Hampshire and Oklahoma.
  7. These values were heavily influenced by missing data from Alaska, California, and New Hampshire.

See references 1,2,3,4,7

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Additional information, primarily from the CDC:

bulletThe Center for Disease Control and Prevention figures for 1996, released in 1999-JUL, showed that the highest abortion rate is in California (39 per year per 1000 women ages 15 to 44). California was followed by New York (37), Florida (27), Delaware (26) Rhode Island (24). The lowest was Wyoming with 2. These numbers are probably greatly influenced by state laws. Tough state regulations will cause significant numbers of women to travel to a nearby state for abortions. This will reduce the rate of abortions in their state of origin and increase the rate in nearby states.
bulletNationally, 92% of abortions were obtained within the woman's state of residence, for those women whose state of residence was known. 2
bulletIn some states, parental notification laws, parental consent laws, and the lack of abortion facilities result in a major reduction of the abortions performed in those states. In other states the reverse may be true: a lack of inhibiting laws and easily accessible abortion clinics may result in a major increase in the state's number of abortions. However, these data may be misleading. Some women, unable to easily obtain an abortion in their home state simply travel to a nearby state for the procedure. The percentage of legal abortions obtained by out-of-state residents in 1999 varied from 1% in Arizona, to 48.6% in Kansas and 54.9% in the District of Columbia. In the year 2000, abortions obtained by out of state residents averaged 9% of the total. This ranged from 0.4% in Hawaii to 45% in the District of Columbia.
bulletWorldwide, about 46 million women have abortions. This represents 22% of the 210 million pregnancies that occur yearly. 5

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You can safely buy books on abortion from Amazon.com's online bookstore:

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  1. "Abortion surveillance - U.S., 1998," National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC, at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/
  2. "Abortion Surveillance -- United States, 1996," CDC, 1999-JUL-30, at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/
  3. "Fact Sheet: Abortion Surveillance," CDC, 2002-JUN-7, at: http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/
  4. "Abortion Surveillance -- United States, 1999," CDC, 2002-NOV-29, at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/
  5. Alan Guttmacher Institute data, released 1999-JAN.
  6. "Historical National Population Estimates" at: http://www.census.gov/population/
  7. "Abortion Surveillance -- United States, 2000," CDC, 2003-NOV-28, at:

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Copyright © 1995 to 2004 incl. by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last updated: 2004-JAN-16

Author: B.A. Robinson

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