Problem/condition: Since 1969, CDC has conducted abortion surveillance to document the number and characteristics of women obtaining legal induced abortions in the United States.
Reporting period covered: 2007.
Description of system: Each year, CDC requests abortion data from the central health agencies of 52 reporting areas (the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and New York City). This information is provided voluntarily. For 2007, data were received from 49 reporting areas. For the purpose of trend analysis, data were evaluated from the 45 areas that reported data every year during the preceding decade (1998-2007). Abortion rates (number of abortions per 1,000 women) and ratios (number of abortions per 1,000 live births) were calculated using census and natality data, respectively.
Results: A total of 827,609 abortions were reported to CDC for 2007. Among the 45 reporting areas that provided data every year during 1998-2007, a total of 810,582 abortions (97.9% of the total) were reported for 2007; the abortion rate was 16.0 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years, and the abortion ratio was 231 abortions per 1,000 live births. Compared with 2006, the total number and rate of reported abortions decreased 2%, and the abortion ratio decreased 3%. Reported abortion numbers, rates, and ratios were 6%, 7%, and 14% lower, respectively, in 2007 than in 1998. Women aged 20-29 years accounted for 56.9% of all abortions in 2007 and for the majority of abortions during the entire period of analysis (1998-2007). In 2007, women aged 20-29 years also had the highest abortion rates (29.4 abortions per 1,000 women aged 20-24 years and 21.4 abortions per 1,000 women aged 25-29 years). Adolescents aged 15-19 years accounted for 16.5% of all abortions in 2007 and had an abortion rate of 14.5 abortions per 1,000 adolescents aged 15-19 years; women aged ≥35 years accounted for a smaller percentage (12.0%) of abortions and had lower abortion rates (7.7 abortions per 1,000 women aged 35-39 years and 2.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged ≥40 years). During 1998-2007, the abortion rate increased among women aged ≥35 years but decreased among adolescents aged ≤19 years and among women aged 20-29 years. In contrast to the percentage distribution of abortions and abortion rates, abortion ratios were highest at the extremes of reproductive age, both in 2007 and throughout the entire period of analysis. During 1998-2007 abortion ratios decreased among women in all age groups except for those aged <15 years. In 2007, most (62.3%) abortions were performed at ≤8 weeks' gestation, and 91.5% were performed at ≤13 weeks' gestation. Few abortions (7.2%) were performed at 14-20 weeks' gestation, and 1.3% were performed at ≥21 weeks' gestation. During 1998-2007, the percentage of abortions performed at ≤13 weeks' gestation remained stable; however, abortions performed at ≥16 weeks' gestation decreased by 13%-14%, and among the abortions performed at ≤13 weeks' gestation, the percentage performed at ≤6 weeks' gestation increased 65%. In 2007, 78.1% of abortions were performed by curettage at ≤13 weeks' gestation, and 13.1% were performed by early medical abortion (a nonsurgical abortion at ≤8 weeks' gestation); 7.9% of abortions were performed by curettage at >13 weeks' gestation. Among the 62.3% of abortions that were performed at ≤8 weeks' gestation, and thus were eligible for early medical abortion, 20.3% were completed by this method. Deaths of women associated with complications from abortions for 2007 are being investigated under CDC's Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System. In 2006, the most recent year for which data were available, six women were reported to have died as a result of complications from known legal induced abortions. No reported deaths were associated with known illegal induced abortions.
Interpretation: Among the 45 areas that reported data every year during 1998-2007, the total number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions decreased during 2006-2007. This decrease reversed the increase in reported abortion numbers and rates that occurred during 2005-2006; however, reported abortion numbers and rates for 2007 still were higher than they had been previously in 2005. In 2006, as in previous years, reported deaths related to abortion were rare.
Public health action: Abortion surveillance in the United States continues to provide the data needed to examine trends in the number and characteristics of women obtaining abortions. Policymakers and program planners can use these data to guide and evaluate efforts to prevent unintended pregnancies.