Health Team

Abortion rates in US reach a decade low, CDC reports

Posted November 21, 2018 1:00 p.m. EST

— Abortion rates in the United States have dropped to their lowest level in 10 years, according to a report released Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From 2006 to 2015, the year of the latest completed survey, reported abortions from participating areas fell 24%, from 842,855 to 638,169.

Going back to 1969, the CDC has completed its "abortion surveillance" to measure the number and characteristics of women who obtain legal abortions. Requests for information go out to the central health agencies in all 50 states, plus Washington and New York City. The most recent surveillance included voluntary abortion data from 49 areas, the exceptions being California, Maryland and New Hampshire.

What researchers found was a striking decrease from where abortion rates were a decade ago. In addition to the steep drop in the number of reported abortions, the rates fell in two other categories. The number of abortions among women 15-44 went down 26%, from 15.9 to 11.8 abortions per 1,000 women. And the number of abortions per 1,000 live births went down by 19%, from 233 to 188.

Compared with the previous year, 2014, there was a 2% decrease in abortions across the three measures.

Because reporting is voluntary and requirements for reporting vary across the country, the CDC acknowledges that the findings have limitations. The number of abortions reported to the CDC, for example, is 68% to 71% of the number established in a census of abortion providers by the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy group focused on reproductive health and rights, the report says. But the findings offer significant insights into how abortion is trending in the United States.