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 2005.
Description of system: For each year since 1969, CDC has compiled abortion data by state or area of occurrence. Information is requested each year from all 50 states, New York City, and the District of Columbia. For 2005, data were received from 49 reporting areas: New York City, District of Columbia, and all states except California, Louisiana, and New Hampshire. For the purpose of trends analysis, data were evaluated from the 46 reporting areas that have been consistently reported since 1995.
Results: A total of 820,151 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC for 2005 from 49 reporting areas, the abortion ratio (number of abortions per 1,000 live births) was 233, and the abortion rate was 15 per 1,000 women aged 15--44 years. For the 46 reporting areas that have consistently reported since 1995, the abortion rate declined during 1995--2000 but has remained unchanged since 2000. For 2005, the highest percentages of reported abortions were for women who were known to be unmarried (81%), white (53%), and aged <25 years (50%). Of all abortions for which gestational age was reported, 62% were performed at </=8 weeks' gestation and 88% at <13 weeks. From 1992 (when detailed data regarding early abortions were first collected) through 2005, the percentage of abortions performed at </=6 weeks' gestation has increased. A small percentage of abortions occurred at >15 weeks' gestation (3.7% at 16--20 weeks and 1.3% at >/=21 weeks). A total of 35 reporting areas submitted data stating that they performed and enumerated medical (nonsurgical) procedures, making up 9.9% of all known reported procedures from the 45 areas with adequate reporting on type of procedure. In 2004 (the most recent years for which data are available), seven women died as a result of complications from known legal induced abortion. One death was associated with known illegal abortion.
Interpretation: For the 46 reporting areas that have consistently reported since 1995, the number of abortions has steadily declined over the previous 10 years. The abortion rate declined from 1995 to 2000, but remained unchanged since 2000. In 2004, as in the previous years, deaths related to legal induced abortions occurred rarely.
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 evaluate efforts to prevent unintended pregnancies.