Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2018

Katherine Kortsmit, Tara C. Jatlaoui, Michele G. Mandel, Jennifer A. Reeves, Titilope Oduyebo, Emily Petersen, Maura K. Whiteman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

Problem/Condition: CDC conducts abortion surveillance to document the number and characteristics of women obtaining legal induced abortions and number of abortion-related deaths in the United States. Period Covered: 2018. Description of System: Each year, CDC requests abortion data from the central health agencies for 50 states, the District of Columbia, and New York City. For 2018, 49 reporting areas voluntarily provided aggregate abortion data to CDC. Of these, 48 reporting areas provided data each year during 2009–2018. Census and natality data were used to calculate abortion rates (number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years) and ratios (number of abortions per 1,000 live births), respectively. Abortion-related deaths from 2017 were assessed as part of CDC's Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System (PMSS). Results: A total of 619,591 abortions for 2018 were reported to CDC from 49 reporting areas. Among 48 reporting areas with data each year during 2009–2018, in 2018, a total of 614,820 abortions were reported, the abortion rate was 11.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 189 abortions per 1,000 live births. From 2017 to 2018, the total number of abortions and abortion rate increased 1% (from 609,095 total abortions and from 11.2 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, respectively), and the abortion ratio increased 2% (from 185 abortions per 1,000 live births). From 2009 to 2018, the total number of reported abortions, abortion rate, and abortion ratio decreased 22% (from 786,621), 24% (from 14.9 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years), and 16% (from 224 abortions per 1,000 live births), respectively. In 2018, women in their 20s accounted for more than half of abortions (57.7%). In 2018 and during 2009–2018, women aged 20–24 and 25–29 years accounted for the highest percentages of abortions; in 2018, they accounted for 28.3% and 29.4% of abortions, respectively, and had the highest abortion rates (19.1 and 18.5 per 1,000 women aged 20–24 and 25–29 years, respectively). By contrast, adolescents aged <15 years and women aged ≥40 years accounted for the lowest percentages of abortions (0.2% and 3.6%, respectively) and had the lowest abortion rates (0.4 and 2.6 per 1,000 women aged <15 and ≥40 years, respectively). However, abortion ratios in 2018 and throughout 2009–2018 were highest among adolescents (aged ≤19 years) and lowest among women aged 25–39 years. Abortion rates decreased from 2009 to 2018 for all women, regardless of age. The decrease in abortion rate was highest among adolescents compared with women in any other age group. From 2009 to 2013, the abortion rates decreased for all age groups and from 2014 to 2018, the abortion rates decreased for all age groups, except for women aged 30–34 years and those aged ≥40 years. In addition, from 2017 to 2018, abortion rates did not change or decreased among women aged ≤24 and ≥40 years; however, the abortion rate increased among women aged 25–39 years. Abortion ratios also decreased from 2009 to 2018 among all women, except adolescents aged <15 years. The decrease in abortion ratio was highest among women aged ≥40 years compared with women in any other age group. The abortion ratio decreased for all age groups from 2009 to 2013; however, from 2014 to 2018, abortion ratios only decreased for women aged ≥35 years. From 2017 to 2018, abortion ratios increased for all age groups, except women aged ≥40 years. In 2018, approximately three fourths (77.7%) of abortions were performed at ≤9 weeks’ gestation, and nearly all (92.2%) were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation. In 2018, and during 2009–2018, the percentage of abortions performed at >13 weeks’ gestation remained consistently low (≤9.0%). In 2018, the highest proportion of abortions were performed by surgical abortion at ≤13 weeks’ gestation (52.1%), followed by early medical abortion at ≤9 weeks’ gestation (38.6%), surgical abortion at?>13 weeks’ gestation (7.8%), and medical abortion at >9 weeks’ gestation (1.4%); all other methods were uncommon (<0.1%). Among those that were eligible (≤9 weeks’ gestation), 50.0% of abortions were early medical abortions. In 2017, the most recent year for which PMSS data were reviewed for pregnancy-related deaths, two women were identified to have died as a result of complications from legal induced abortion. Interpretation: Among the 48 areas that reported data continuously during 2009–2018, decreases were observed during 2009–2017 in the total number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions, and these decreases resulted in historic lows for this period for all three measures. These decreases were followed by 1%–2% increases across all measures from 2017 to 2018. Public Health Action: The data in this report can help program planners and policymakers identify groups of women with the highest rates of abortion. Unintended pregnancy is a major contributor to induced abortion. Increasing access to and use of effective contraception can reduce unintended pregnancies and further reduce the number of abortions performed in the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalMMWR Surveillance Summaries
Volume69
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020

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