The Corner

U.S.

Government Abortion Rate Could Be Off by Hundreds of Thousands

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. (Tami Chappell/Reuters)

Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) releases its Abortion Surveillance report during the media slump that is Thanksgiving. Regardless, the 2018 report — documenting U.S. abortion data for 2015 — garnered attention from media for a “historic low” of a “total of 638,169 abortions.” There’s just one problem: Three states declined to participate, and they potentially represent hundreds of thousands of abortions.

California, Maryland, and New Hampshire have repeatedly declined to report abortion numbers to the CDC. As Professor Michael J. New previously pointed out in National Review, “The CDC doesn’t have the authority to compel states to report abortion numbers and as a result, unsurprisingly, the data are incomplete.”

But the Guttmacher Institute, formerly associated with Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, helps fill in the gap. It lists abortion numbers for each state in 2014 — a year before the new CDC data.

For 2014, in California, “some 157,350 abortions were provided.” Maryland performed “some 28,140 abortions,” while New Hampshire had “some 2,540 abortions.” In total, those three states made up 188,030 abortions for 2014.

That number will likely shrink for 2015, if the Guttmacher Institute releases new abortion data for that year — just as the CDC’s abortion numbers declined from 2014 to 2015. From 2014 to 2015, the new CDC report recognized that the “total number of reported abortions decreased 2%,” along with the abortion rate and ratio. If the CDC’s 2% decline from 2014 to 2015 is applied to Guttmacher Institute’s 2014 abortion numbers, that means an estimated 184,269 abortions may not have been reported in 2015. That number represents nearly 29% of the nation’s abortions reported by the CDC in that year.

But the percentage would decrease when applied to the Guttmacher Institute’s abortion data. In 2014, the Guttmacher Institute listed a total of 926,200 abortions after surveying “all U.S. facilities known or expected to have provided abortion services in 2013 or 2014,” while the CDC listed 652,639 abortions for that same year.

Again, looking at numbers from the same time period, from 2013 to 2014, the Guttmacher Institute showed a 3 percent decline in abortion when the CDC showed a 2 percent decline. If the same decline repeated for the Guttmacher Institute in 2015, as it did for the CDC, then an estimated 182,389 abortions from California, Maryland, and New Hampshire may not have been reported in 2015.

Both the CDC and the Guttmacher Institute admit data limitations and unfortunately leave Americans in the dark about the exact number of abortions per year. But even with the discrepancies — and the knowledge that one abortion is too many — the CDC’s reported 2 percent decline is still reason for hope that the country is moving in the right direction.

Katie Yoder is a content manager for National Review Online and a columnist for Townhall and CatholicVote.org.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

The March for Life Is a March for Truth

Pro-lifers are marching today, as they do every year, to commemorate a great evil that was done in January 1973 and to express solidarity with its innocent victims. The Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade eliminated legal protections for unborn children in all 50 states, and did so without any ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The March for Life Is a March for Truth

Pro-lifers are marching today, as they do every year, to commemorate a great evil that was done in January 1973 and to express solidarity with its innocent victims. The Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade eliminated legal protections for unborn children in all 50 states, and did so without any ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Clarence Thomas Speaks

Those who know Justice Clarence Thomas say that any perception of him as dour or phlegmatic couldn't be more off-base. He's a charming, gracious, jovial man, full of bonhomie and easy with a laugh, or so I'm told by people who know him well. On summer breaks he likes to roam around the country in an RV and stay ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Clarence Thomas Speaks

Those who know Justice Clarence Thomas say that any perception of him as dour or phlegmatic couldn't be more off-base. He's a charming, gracious, jovial man, full of bonhomie and easy with a laugh, or so I'm told by people who know him well. On summer breaks he likes to roam around the country in an RV and stay ... Read More

A Nation of Barbers

It seems almost inevitable that long hair is unwelcome at Barbers Hill High School. There’s a touch of aptronymic poetry in Texas public-school dress-code disputes. When I was in school in the 1980s, at the height of the Satanism panic, the local school-district superintendent circulated a list of ... Read More

A Nation of Barbers

It seems almost inevitable that long hair is unwelcome at Barbers Hill High School. There’s a touch of aptronymic poetry in Texas public-school dress-code disputes. When I was in school in the 1980s, at the height of the Satanism panic, the local school-district superintendent circulated a list of ... Read More
U.S.

Nadler’s Folly

Jerry Nadler must have missed the day in law school where they teach you about persuasion. The House Democrat made a critical error early in the trial of President Trump. He didn’t just say that Republican senators, who voted to begin the proceedings without calling witnesses, were part of a cover-up. He said ... Read More
U.S.

Nadler’s Folly

Jerry Nadler must have missed the day in law school where they teach you about persuasion. The House Democrat made a critical error early in the trial of President Trump. He didn’t just say that Republican senators, who voted to begin the proceedings without calling witnesses, were part of a cover-up. He said ... Read More
White House

On the Bidens, Schiff Opened the Door

You opened the door. Trial lawyers live in fear of that phrase. When a trial starts, both sides know what the allegations are. Both have had enough discovery to know what the adversary will try to prove. Just as significantly, both know what their own vulnerabilities are. A litigator spends his pretrial ... Read More
White House

On the Bidens, Schiff Opened the Door

You opened the door. Trial lawyers live in fear of that phrase. When a trial starts, both sides know what the allegations are. Both have had enough discovery to know what the adversary will try to prove. Just as significantly, both know what their own vulnerabilities are. A litigator spends his pretrial ... Read More