U.S. abortion rate falls to lowest level in decades, CDC says
NEWYORK— The number and rate of abortions tallied by federal authorities have fallen to their lowest level in decades, according to data released Wednesday.
The annual report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, incorporating data from 47 states, said the abortion rate for 2013 was 12.5 abortions per 1,000 women age 15-44. It is down 5 percent from 2012.
The last time the CDC recorded a lower abortion rate was in 1971, two years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that established a nationwide right for women to have abortions. Abortion was legal in some states at that time.
The CDC tallied 664,435 abortions in 2013 from the 47 states, down 5 percent from 2012 and down 20 percent from 2004.
The CDC does not receive abortion data from California, Maryland and New Hampshire; therefore, its total is less than the widely accepted estimate of over 900,000 abortions per year in all 50 states.
In 1990, when California supplied data, the CDC recorded a peak of more than 1.4 million abortions.
The CDC’s latest findings meshed with an Associated Press state-by-state survey conducted last year — with extensive data from 2014 — showing that abortions had been declining in virtually every state since 2010. There were big declines in conservative states that passed laws to restrict abortions and also in more liberal states that protected abortion rights.
The CDC report suggests there are several factors behind the decline, including a drop in adolescent pregnancies, expanded coverage of contraception costs by health care plans, and increased use of long-lasting contraceptive methods such as intrauterine devices and hormonal implants. Among the findings: Women in their 20s accounted for over 58 percent of abortions and had the highest abortion rates. Young women and girls 19 and under accounted for 11.7 percent of abortions.
Two-thirds of abortions were performed within the first eight weeks, and nearly 92 percent by 13 weeks. Only 1.3 percent were performed after 20 weeks — a point at which many antiabortion activists want a federal abortion ban to be imposed.
State abortion rates varied widely, from 3.6 per 1,000 women in Mississippi to 24.3 in New York. Mississippi is among a handful of states with only one functioning abortion clinic.
Medical abortions — generally using the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol — accounted for about 22 percent of abortions; surgical procedures accounted for nearly all the others.
About 15 percent of women who obtained an abortion were married. About 60 percent had previously given birth to at least one child.