Something to Be Thankful For: Abortion Down by 5 Percent

Katie Pavlich

11/22/2012 9:00:00 AM - Katie Pavlich

There is good news coming out of the Centers for Disease Control. Although the number of abortions performed each year is still tragically high, with 18 percent of all pregnancies ending in abortion, abortion procedures are down by 5 percent according to the latest data available from the CDC:

Description of System: Each year, CDC requests abortion data from the central health agencies of 52 reporting areas (the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and New York City). The reporting areas provide this information voluntarily. For 2009, data were received from 48 reporting areas. For the purpose of trend analysis, abortion data were evaluated from the 45 areas that reported data every year during 2000–2009. Census and natality data, respectively, were used to calculated abortion rates (number of abortions per 1,000 women) and ratios (number of abortions per 1,000 live births).

Results: A total of 784,507 abortions were reported to CDC for 2009. Of these abortions, 772,630 (98.5%) were from the 45 reporting areas that provided data every year during 2000–2009. Among these same 45 reporting areas, the abortion rate for 2009 was 15.1 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 227 abortions per 1,000 live births. Compared with 2008, the total number and rate of reported abortions for 2009 decreased 5%, representing the largest single year decrease for the entire period of analysis. The abortion ratio decreased 2%. From 2000 to 2009, the total number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions decreased 6%, 7%, and 8%, respectively, to the lowest levels for 2000–2009.

Interpretation: Among the 45 areas that reported data every year during 2000–2009, the gradual decrease that had occurred during previous decades in the total number and rate of reported abortions continued through 2005, whereas year-to-year variation from 2006 to 2008 resulted in no net change during this later period. However, the change from 2008 to 2009 for both the total number of abortions and the abortion rate was the largest single year decrease during 2000–2009, and all three measures of abortion (total numbers, rates, and ratios) decreased to the lowest level observed during this period.

In 2009 and throughout the period of analysis, women in their 20s accounted for the majority of abortions and had the highest abortion rates, whereas women aged ≥30 years accounted for a much smaller percentage of abortions and had lower abortion rates.

The 2009 data showing a drop in abortions by five percent is the largest decrease in a decade. Again, 784,507 abortions are tragic, but the five percent decrease in abortions is encouraging to those in the fight to protect the unborn.