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Number of US abortions declined in 2020, CDC report finds

Catherine McQueen/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — The number of abortions performed in the U.S. decline in 2020, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The annual report, published Wednesday by the CDC, looks at how common abortion is in the United States and who is getting the procedure.

In total, 620,327 abortions were reported during 2020, a 2% decline from 2019. This data includes every state aside from California, Maryland and New Hampshire.

The rate of abortions also declined to 11.2 per 1,000 women between ages 15 and 44 in 2020, a drop from 11.4 per 1,000 the year before.

Women in their 20s accounted for more than half of all abortions in 2020 at 57.2%. Specifically, women between ages 25 and 29 made up 29.3% and women between ages 20 and 24 made up 27.9% of those who had an abortion.

In addition, of all women who had abortions that year, 86.3% were unmarried and 60.9% already had at least one child, according to the report.

Comparatively, teenagers under age 15 and women aged 40 or older accounted for the fewest abortions in 2020 at 0.2% and 3.7%, respectively.

When looking at abortions in the U.S. by race and ethnicity, large disparities could be seen.

Although white women and Black women each accounted for the highest number of abortions in 2020 — making up about one-third each — the rates were dramatically different.

Black women had an abortion rate nearly four times higher than that of white women at 24 abortions per 1,000 Black women compared to 6.2 abortions per 1,000 white women.

Additionally, while Hispanic women made up a smaller share of the abortions performed in 2020 at 21%, the abortion rate was 1.8 times that of white women at 11.4 abortions per 1,000 Hispanic women.

According to the CDC, reasons for these disparities include unequal access to family planning services, poverty and mistrust of the medical system.

The report also examined how far along women were when they received abortions. The overwhelming majority of abortions in 2020, 80.9%, were performed at or before nine weeks’ gestation. In 2020, 93.1% of abortions were performed before the second trimester.

About half of all abortions, 51%, were medical abortions in 2020 followed by surgical abortions at or before 13 weeks at 40%.

Additionally, the report discussed abortion trends from 2011 to 2020. Data showed the total number of abortions declined by 15% and the rate per 1,000 women decreased by 18% — with that rate decline seen across all age groups.

Particularly, the decrease in abortion rate was highest among adolescents aged 15 to 19, dropping by 48% between 2011 and 2020.

The authors did not state whether the drop in 2020 occurred because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions nor did they discuss what may be seen after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade — which guaranteed the constitutional right to an abortion — this summer.

However, they did write that abortion surveillance is “to help evaluate programs aimed at promoting equitable access to patient-centered contraceptive care in the United States to reduce unintended pregnancies.”

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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