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Abortion rates fell slightly in 2020, with most done at or before 9 weeks, says CDC

<i>Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>A general view of an exam room inside the Hope Clinic For Women in Granite City
AFP via Getty Images
Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images
A general view of an exam room inside the Hope Clinic For Women in Granite City

By Katherine Dillinger

Both the number and rate of abortions reported in the US fell 2% from 2019 to 2020, according to new data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC requests abortion data each year from all 50 states and other jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia and New York City, and researchers compare it to census and birth data. The latest findings were published Wednesday. They show there were 615,911 abortions in 2020 in 48 reporting areas that provided data every year from 2011 to 2020, down from 625,346 in 2019. The abortion rate in these areas from 2019 to 2020 fell from 11.4 per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 to 11.2 per 1,000 women.

From 2011 to 2020, the total number of reported abortions fell 15% and the abortion rate fell 18%.

The abortion ratio — the number of abortions relative to live births — also decreased from 2011 to 2020 overall. But it ticked up slightly between 2019 and 2020, as total births declined in the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic.

More than 80% of abortions in 2020 were done at or before 9 weeks gestation, and more than 93% were done at or before 13 weeks.

Missouri had the lowest abortion rate in 2020, at 0.1 per 1,000 women. DC had the highest, at 23 per 1,000. Women in their 20s accounted for more than half of the procedures that year, with adolescents under 15 and women 40 and older having the lowest percentages of abortions, representing 0.2% and 3.7% respectively.

White and Black women had the highest abortion percentages in 2020, at 32.7% and 39.2%, respectively. About 13.7% of women who got an abortion were married

The CDC also identified four abortion-related deaths for 2019, the latest year for which data were reviewed. All were related to legal abortions.

The researchers noted that the Covid-19 pandemic may have affected the numbers, including clinic closures and changes in practice. There might also have been changes in pregnancy rates because of reduced sexual activity.

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