CDC Reports a Small Increase in Number of Abortions in 2002


There was a slight uptick in the number of abortions reported in 2002, according to figures published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of abortions increased by 637 to 854,122 between 2001 and 2002. But the abortion rate—16 per 1,000 women—has remained constant since 2000. The figures are based on data reported from 47 states, the District of Columbia, and New York City. The analysis does not include information from Alaska, California, and New Hampshire.

The 0.1% increase follows 5 years of decline in the number of abortions from 1997 through 2001, researchers reported in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR Surveillance Summaries 2005;54[SS07]:1–31).

The CDC findings conflict with an analysis released in May 2005 by the Guttmacher Institute that showed that the number of abortions performed in the United States fell from 2001 to 2002. Their analysis showed that the number of abortions had declined from 1.30 million in 2001 to 1.29 million in 2002. The discrepancy may be due to differences in methodology. The Guttmacher Institute analysis used CDC data and figures collected for state health departments to project changes from a 2000 survey of all known abortion providers.

Regardless of the precise figures, there is still a lot of work to be done, said Rachel Jones, senior research associate with the Guttmacher Institute. Women need increased access to contraception and better information about pregnancy prevention, she said.

Most of the abortions (87%) reported to the CDC were performed at less than 13 weeks' gestation. Only 4% of abortions occurred between 16 and 20 weeks, and 1.4% of abortions were reported to have occurred after 21 weeks.

The CDC also reported a jump in the number of medical abortions between 2001 and 2002. Medical abortions accounted for about 5% of all procedures in 2002, with 36,297 medical abortion procedures reported. This is approximately a 77% increase from 2001 in the 31 areas that reported medical abortion information in both years. About 94% of medical abortions were performed at 8 weeks' gestation or earlier.

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