Abortion Surveillance — United States, 2019

Katherine Kortsmit, Michele G. Mandel, Jennifer A. Reeves, Elizabeth Clark, H. Pamela Pagano, Antoinette Nguyen, Emily E. Petersen, Maura K. Whiteman

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73 Scopus citations


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: 2019. 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 2019, 49 reporting areas voluntarily provided aggregate abortion data to CDC. Of these, 48 reporting areas provided data each year during 2010–2019. 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. Abortionrelated deaths from 2018 were assessed as part of CDC’s Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System (PMSS). Results: A total of 629,898 abortions for 2019 were reported to CDC from 49 reporting areas. Among 48 reporting areas with data each year during 2010–2019, in 2019, a total of 625,346 abortions were reported, the abortion rate was 11.4 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 195 abortions per 1,000 live births. From 2018 to 2019, the total number of abortions increased 2% (from 614,820 total abortions), the abortion rate increased 0.9% (from 11.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years), and the abortion ratio increased 3% (from 189 abortions per 1,000 live births). From 2010 to 2019, the total number of reported abortions, abortion rate, and abortion ratio decreased 18% (from 762,755), 21% (from 14.4 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years), and 13% (from 225 abortions per 1,000 live births), respectively. In 2019, women in their 20s accounted for more than half of abortions (56.9%). Women aged 20–24 and 25–29 years accounted for the highest percentages of abortions (27.6% and 29.3%, respectively) and had the highest abortion rates (19.0 and 18.6 abortions 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 3.7%, respectively) and had the lowest abortion rates (0.4 and 2.7 abortions per 1,000 women aged <15 and ≥40 years, respectively). However, abortion ratios in 2019 were highest among adolescents (aged ≤19 years) and lowest among women aged 25–39 years. Abortion rates decreased from 2010 to 2019 for all women, regardless of age. The decrease in abortion rate was highest among adolescents compared with any other age group. From 2018 to 2019, abortion rates decreased or did not change among women aged ≤24 years; however, the abortion rate increased among those aged ≥25 years. Abortion ratios also decreased or did not change from 2010 to 2019 for all age groups, except adolescents aged <15 years. The decrease in abortion ratio was highest among women aged ≥40 years compared with any other age group. From 2018 to 2019, abortion ratios increased for all age groups, except adolescents aged <15 years. In 2019, 79.3% of abortions were performed at ≤9 weeks’ gestation, and nearly all (92.7%) were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation. During 2010–2019, the percentage of abortions performed at?>13 weeks’ gestation remained consistently low (≤9.0%). In 2019, the highest proportion of abortions were performed by surgical abortion at ≤13 weeks’ gestation (49.0%), followed by early medical abortion at ≤9 weeks’ gestation (42.3%), surgical abortion at?>13 weeks’ gestation (7.2%), and medical abortion at?>9 weeks’ gestation (1.4%); all other methods were uncommon (<0.1%). Among those that were eligible (≤9 weeks’ gestation), 53.7% of abortions were early medical abortions. In 2018, the most recent year for which PMSS data were reviewed for pregnancy-related deaths, two women died as a result of complications from legal induced abortion. Interpretation: Among the 48 areas that reported data continuously during 2010–2019, overall decreases were observed during 2010–2019 in the total number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions; however, from 2018 to 2019, 1%–3% increases were observed across all measures. Public Health Action: Abortion surveillance can be used to help evaluate programs aimed at promoting equitable access to patient-centered quality contraceptive services in the United States to reduce unintended pregnancies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalMMWR Surveillance Summaries
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2021


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