By Right to Life of Michigan
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released their latest annual report on abortion statistics last week, showing that the number of abortions and the abortion rates are lower than ever. Though it is unacceptable that any number of children should die because of abortion, it is encouraging to see that the number of lives lost decreases each year—slowly but surely.
Looking at the breakdown of abortion statistics can be helpful in discerning what category of women the prolife movement needs to reach the most, but it is also important to note that the accuracy of the CDC data is not perfect. For example, California, Maryland, and New Hampshire all fail to report annual data on abortions to the CDC.
The total number of abortions reported to the CDC in the U.S. decreased 2% from 652,639 in 2014 to 638,169 in 2015. This number has been steadily dropping; it has decreased a total of 24% since 2006, when the total number of reported abortions was 842,855.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, which polls abortion facilities directly, the total national figure for all 50 states was 926,200 in 2014.
The CDC also breaks down the data into important categories such as the race and age of the woman, the gestational age of the baby, and the pregnancy and abortion history of the woman. Here’s some important numbers worth keeping in mind and trends in the last decade.
Age of Woman
The age distribution of women having abortions have remained similar throughout the years, always with the highest rates of abortions had by women in their 20’s. In recent years, the average age of a woman having an abortion has been slowly increasing. The largest change in the age group of women having abortions are teens ages 15–19. From 2006 to 2015, the percentage of abortions accounted for by that age group decreased by 41%; their abortion rate decreased by 54%.
- Ages under 15 = 0.3% of reported abortions
- Ages 15–19 = 9.8%
- Ages 20–24 = 31.1%
- Ages 25–29 = 27.6%
- Ages 30–34 = 17.7%
- Ages 35–39 = 10.0%
- Ages 40 and over = 3.5%
Race of Woman
According to the CDC, abortion ratio decreased from 2007 to 2015 for the three largest race/ethnicity groups. The ratio is the number of abortions compared to live births, meaning more women are choosing life. There are still large disparities between these groups, however.
- Non-Hispanic white women: the abortion ratio decreased 27% (from 147 abortions per 1,000 live births in 2007 to 108 in 2015).
- Non-Hispanic black women: decreased 22% (from 514 abortions per 1,000 live births in 2007 to 403 in 2015)
- Hispanic women: decreased 26% (from 205 abortions per 1,000 live births in 2007 to 152 in 2015)
Gestational Age of Baby
Between the years 2006 and 2015, the percentage of abortions after 13 weeks has been below 10%, and there has been an increase of 11% in abortions before 16 weeks’ gestation. While 1.3% seems like a small number, using more complete figures on total national abortions gives us a figure of more than 12,000 late-term abortions every year in the U.S.
- Less than 13 weeks = 91.1%
- Between 14 and 20 weeks = 7.6%
- More than 21 weeks = 1.3%
A majority of women having abortions already have a child, but most do not fit the stereotype of a large family that can’t care for itself; only 14.2% of abortions are performed on women who have three or more previous births. These numbers indicate a significant challenge for reaching women who are already mothers who somehow believe that a second or third child is a direct threat to their future.
- No previous live births = 40.7% of abortions
- One or more previous live births = 59.3% of abortions
Like the pregnancy history numbers, the high repeat abortion rate is a tragic reminder that many women who have abortion are locked into an ugly cycle. 8.2% of abortions are done on women who have had three or more previous abortions.
- No previous abortion = 56.3% of abortions
- One or more previous induced abortions = 43.6% of abortions
Looking at the breakdown of abortions can be helpful in discerning what category of women the prolife movement needs to reach the most, but it is also important to note that the accuracy of the data is not perfect. For example, California, Maryland, and New Hampshire all fail to report any information on abortions to the CDC.
The steady decrease in abortions is encouraging, meaning that our hard work to promote life-giving options has been effective. However, this report also indicates the extent of work left to be done, as there is still a gigantic loss of life due to abortions. Even without three states reporting their numbers, the CDC abortion total would qualify abortion as the largest cause of death in America.