1 table, 1 figure omitted
FOR 1995, CDC received data about legal induced abortions from the 50 states, New York City, and the District of Columbia. This report presents preliminary data for 1995; final abortion data for 1995 will be published during spring 1998.
In 1995, a total of 1,210,883 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC, a decrease of 4.5% from the number reported for 1994.1 The number of live births decreased by 1.5% over the same period. From 1994 to 1995, the number of reported abortions decreased in 40 of 52 reporting areas. From 1994 to 1995, the national abortion ratio (number of legal abortions per 1000 live births reported by all reporting areas) decreased from 321 to 311, respectively, and the national abortion rate (number of legal abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44 years) decreased from 21 to 20, respectively. Consistent with previous years, approximately 92% of women who had legal abortions were residents of the state in which the procedure was performed.
Women who obtained legal abortions in 1995 were predominately white and unmarried. As in 1994, one fifth of women who obtained legal abortions in 1995 were adolescents (aged ≤19 years); 33% were aged 20-24 years. Curettage (suction and sharp) remained the primary abortion procedure (99% of all procedures). As in previous years, more than half of legal abortions (54%) were performed during the first 8 weeks of gestation; specifically, 16% were at ≤6 weeks; 17% at 7 weeks; and 21% at 8 weeks. Approximately 88% of abortions were performed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Statistics and Computer Resources Br, Div of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC.
During 1980-1995, the annual number of legal induced abortions in the United States varied by ≤5%. However, since 1990 (the year in which the number of abortions was highest), the number of reported abortions has steadily decreased. In 1995, 77% of reporting areas reported fewer abortions than in 1994. During 1972-1980, the national abortion rate increased each year; during 1981-1993, the rate remained stable, fluctuating between 22 and 24 per 1000 women of reproductive age (i.e., aged 15-44 years).The 1995 rate of 20 was the lowest rate recorded since 1975.2
In 1995, the national ratio of abortions to live births (311 abortions per 1000 live births) was lower than for any year since 1976.3 The denominator of this ratio (the number of live births) peaked in 1990 and has declined each subsequent year; although the numerator of this ratio (the number of abortions) also peaked in 1990, the percentage decline from 1994 to 1995 in the annual number of abortions exceeded the percentage decline in the annual number of births (4.5% compared with 1.5%, respectively). Factors potentially associated with the decrease in the proportion of pregnancies that ended in an abortion include reduced access to abortion services, attitudinal changes concerning the decision to have an abortion or to carry a pregnancy to term, and a reduction in the number of unintended pregnancies.4- 6
Although the number of women of reproductive age in the United States has increased by 13% since 1980, the proportion who are older (i.e., in later, less fertile reproductive years) has increased.7 For example, from 1980 to 1995, the percentage of women of reproductive age who were aged <30 years (the age group having highest fertility) declined from 58% to 46%, respectively 8, while women aged 35-44 years (the age group having lowest fertility) accounted for 25% and 36% of reproductive-aged women, respectively. The final report for 1995 will assess the impact of changes in the age distribution of reproductive-aged women on the long-term trend in the abortion rate and ratio.
Many states emphasize prevention of unintended pregnancy, particularly among teenagers. During 1995, the total number of legal induced abortions was available for all 52 reporting areas. However, approximately 36% of abortions were reported from states without centralized reporting of abortions (four states) or from states whose state health departments did not collect, and therefore could not provide, information about characteristics (e.g., age or race) of women obtaining legal abortions (four states). To assist efforts to prevent unintended pregnancy, each state needs an accurate assessment of abortion on an ongoing basis (including the number and characteristics of women obtaining legal abortions). Since 1992, most reporting areas have reported abortions by gestational age in weeks of gestation for abortions performed at ≤8 weeks. As new medical methods are used for terminating pregnancies primarily at ≤8 weeks of gestation, these data will continue to assist in monitoring trends in legal abortions.9,10
Additional statistical and epidemiologic information about legal induced abortions is available from CDC's automated Reproductive Health Information line, telephone (888) 232-2306, which provides information by fax, by voice recordings, or through the mail.
Abortion Surveillance: Preliminary Analysis—United States, 1995. JAMA. 1998;279(1):12–13. doi:10.1001/jama.279.1.12-JWR0107-3-1