The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently released its report on abortion in the U.S. based on data from the 2013 calendar year. The trends in abortion are a mixture of good and bad news.
The Good News
The good news is that the number of abortions in America continues to steadily decline. From 2012 to 2013 there was a 5% decrease in the number of abortions in our country. This decline is part of a larger trend which shows a 20% decrease in abortions since 2004. In fact, the abortion rate is the lowest it has been since 1969 when the government began tracking abortion.
This decline is likely due to education and outreach that exposes the reality of fetal development, abortion, and the abortion industry; pro-life legislation to protect women’s health; and increased knowledge and access to alternatives to abortion such as pregnancy resource centers and adoption agencies.
More good news includes the fact that teenagers are less likely to be the ones seeking abortions. There was a 31% decrease in the percentage of abortions obtained by teens age 15 to 19 years old from 2004 to 2013. This age group saw the greatest drop in the number of abortions.
The Bad News
While it is encouraging news that the number of abortions is declining, even one abortion is the loss of a person of infinite value. According to the CDC data, there were still 664,435 abortions reported in 2013.
As in the past, there was a disproportionate number of minority abortions. The rate of abortion among African-American women is far higher than among Caucasian women. While African-American women make up only 6% of the U.S. population, they accounted for 35% of the abortions reported.
Data also shows that while late-term abortions are rare, they are still occurring. Of the reported abortions, 1.3% of them were on babies beyond 20 weeks’ gestation and potentially viable. The highest rate of late-term abortions was found in New York City where over 1,750 unborn children at 20+ weeks gestational age were killed in 2013. That means, on average, someone in New York City kills one of these potentially viable children every five hours.
Finally, chemically-induced abortions are on the rise due to the increased availability of RU-486. There was a 110% increase in chemical abortions from 2004 to 2013. This news is concerning because, besides killing an innocent unborn child, RU-486 also poses physical dangers to the woman, particularly because the woman is told to take the medications at home and is often alone when the abortion actually takes place, leaving her at risk for uncontrolled hemorrhaging.
Limits to the Data
As with nearly any data collection, there are limits. The greatest limitation in the CDC data is that not all states report their abortion numbers to the federal agency, including California, which likely has a high number of abortions. Additionally, since reporting requirements vary among the states, not all characteristics (such as race, and maternal age) are obtained for all states. Chemical abortions are also not a specific category required for reporting in all states and is likely disproportionately under counted.