Problem/condition: CDC began abortion surveillance in 1969 to document the number and characteristics of women obtaining legal induced abortions.
Reporting period covered: This report summarizes and describes data voluntarily reported to CDC regarding legal induced abortions obtained in the United States in 2002.
Description of system: For each year since 1969, CDC has compiled abortion data by state or area of occurrence. During 1973-1997, data were received from or estimated for 52 reporting areas in the United States: 50 states, the District of Columbia, and New York City. In 1998 and 1999, CDC compiled abortion data from 48 reporting areas. Alaska, California, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma did not report, and data for these states were not estimated. For 2000-2002, Oklahoma again reported these data, increasing the number of reporting areas to 49.
Results: A total of 854,122 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC for 2002 from 49 reporting areas, representing a 0.1% increase from the 853,485 legal induced abortions reported by the same 49 reporting areas for 2001. The abortion ratio, defined as the number of abortions per 1,000 live births, was 246 in 2002, the same as reported for 2001. The abortion rate was 16 per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years for 2002, the same as for 2001. For the same 48 reporting areas, the abortion rate remained relatively constant during 1997-2002. The highest percentages of reported abortions were for women who were unmarried (82%), white (55%), and aged <25 years (51%). Of all abortions for which gestational age was reported, 60% were performed at < or =8 weeks' gestation and 88% at <13 weeks. From 1992 (when detailed data regarding early abortions were first collected) through 2002, steady increases have occurred in the percentage of abortions performed at < or =6 weeks' gestation. A limited number of abortions was obtained at >15 weeks' gestation, including 4.1% at 16-20 weeks and 1.4% at > or =21 weeks. A total of 35 reporting areas submitted data stating that they performed and enumerated medical (nonsurgical) procedures, accounting for 5.2% of all known reported procedures from the 45 areas with adequate reporting on type of procedure.
Interpretation: During 1990-1997, the number of legal induced abortions gradually declined. When the same 48 reporting areas were compared, the number of abortions decreased during 1996-2001, then slightly increased in 2002. In 2000 and 2001, even with one additional reporting state, the number of abortions declined slightly, with a minimal increase in 2002.
Public health action: Abortion surveillance in the United States continues to provide the data necessary for examining trends in numbers and characteristics of women who obtain legal induced abortions and to increase understanding of this pregnancy outcome. Policymakers and program planners use these data to improve the health and well-being of women and infants.