As promised, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released their 2007 abortion data today. According to the report, 827,609 abortions were performed in 2007; among the 46 states that released data in both 2007 and 2006, the number of abortions fell by about 2 percent. The overall number of abortions has declined nearly every year since 1991 — 2006 was an exception, and the 2007 figures place the incidence of abortion near 2004 and 2005 levels.
Consistent with many previous reports, California and New Hampshire did not report abortion data to the CDC — neither state has done so since 1997. For the first time in several years, Maryland failed to report data, but Louisiana, which did not report data 2006, did so this time.
Interestingly, the number of abortions performed on Oklahoma residents fell by 6 percent between 2006 and 2007, possibly thanks to pro-life legislation passed in 2006. Oklahoma law now includes a parental-consent requirement, allows a woman to view her unborn child on ultrasound before an abortion, informs women that unborn children older than 20 weeks’ gestation may feel pain, includes stronger unborn-victims-of-violence provisions, and funds pregnancy help centers. Obviously, more rigorous research needs to be done, but preliminary data indicate that this omnibus bill was effective.
The delay in the release of the data is still puzzling, though. This was the first time in eight years that the CDC did not release abortion data in November. Perhaps the CDC was politically pressured not to release the data, perhaps it was just simply a bureaucratic delay. At any rate, these statistics continue to be useful to the pro-life movement by documenting the prevalence of abortion in the United States, providing evidence of the effectiveness of pro-life legislation, and revealing the incremental progress the pro-life movement has made over the years.
— Michael New is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama and a fellow at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J.