CDC reports drop in the number of abortions, abortion rate, and abortion ratio

By Dave Andrusko

Today’s overview of abortion data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will be a first look at the very encouraging news that the number of abortions continue to drop. Later this week, Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon, NRLC’s director of education & research, will provide an in-depth analysis of the report that came out just before Thanksgiving.

Although CBS News slid in plenty of pro-abortion commentary, its opening summary is quite good.

All statistics measuring abortion in the U.S. — the rate, the ratio to live births, and the absolute number — reached a “historic low” in 2016, according to new data released Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As we explain each and every year, CDC offers a good guide to overall demographic trends and does so annually. However, since the CDC relies on state health departments which vary in their thoroughness (and because California, the nation’s most populous state, and Maryland and New Hampshire have not reported figures to the CDC since 1998), its abortion count is always considerably lower. By contrast, Guttmacher actively contacts abortion providers and gathers data from states that do not report to the CDC.

For the year 2016 (the last year for which it has data), the CDC reported 623,471 abortions. Guttmacher’s latest figures (for 2017) were 862,320 abortions. Both were decreases from the most recent previous reports (2015 and 2014, respectively) and were all-time lows.

Here are several other major highlights.

*As noted, both CDC and Guttmacher reported drops from their previous report: a 2.3% decline for CDC (over one year) and a 7% decline (over a three year period) for Guttmacher.

*According to CBS News, in 2016, the abortion rate “dropped to 11.6 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age [15-44] and the ratio fell to 186 abortions per 1,000 live births, according to the CDC’s data.” For Guttmacher, the abortion rate was 13.5 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age.

*The abortion ratio measures the number of abortions for every 1,000 reported live births. This number gives us an indication of the likelihood that a pregnant woman chooses to abort rather than going on to give birth to her baby.

“For every 1,000 live births in 2016 there were 186 abortions, down 18 percent from 226 abortions per 1,000 live births the previous year,” according to National Review’s Mairead McArdle. This is hugely encouraging news.

Dr. O’Bannon will provide a more fine-tuned examination of CDC’s abortion figures. But a report that shows a continued decline in the number of abortions, the abortion rate, and the abortion ratio is news to share far and wide.

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