National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

CDC reports decline in number, rate of abortion

The number and rate of abortions provided in the United States and recorded by the federal government in 2013 declined to the lowest level since 1971, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Crary, AP/Sacramento Bee, 11/23).

For the report, researchers examined data from 47 states and Washington, D.C (Jatlaoui et al., Morbidity and Mortality, 11/25). CDC did not receive data on abortion care provided in California, Maryland and New Hampshire. According to the AP/Bee, the exclusion of those states means that CDC's official tallies are lower than the estimated number of abortions provided across all 50 states each year.

Key findings

CDC found that the rate of abortion care in 2013 was 12.5 abortions per 1,000 reproductive-age women, marking a 5 percent decrease from 2012 and a 50 percent decrease from 1980. The overall number of federally recorded abortions in 2013 decreased 5 percent from 2012 and 20 percent from 2004.

According to the AP/Bee, the last time CDC recorded a rate lower than the one reported for 2013 was in 1971, two years before Roe v. Wade. The findings align with an Associated Press investigation, conducted in 2015, that found abortions have been declining in almost every state since 2010.

CDC also found that the rate of abortion varied wildly across states, ranging from 3.6 per 1,000 reproductive-age women in Mississippi, where there is only one clinic in operation, to 24.3 per 1,000 reproductive-age women in New York. In addition, CDC found that medication abortion accounted for 22 percent of all federally reported abortions, while abortion procedures accounted for almost all other abortion care. Further, CDC found that 60 percent of women who obtained an abortion had already given birth to at least one child.

CDC researchers suggested several possible reasons for the overall decline, including a steep decrease in teenage pregnancy, expanded coverage for contraception and increased use of long-acting reversible contraception (AP/Sacramento Bee, 11/23).