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Current Trends Abortion Surveillance: Preliminary Data -- United States, 1992

For 1992, CDC received data about legal induced abortions from 52 reporting areas (the 50 states, New York City, and the District of Columbia). This report presents preliminary data for 1992.

In 1992, a total of 1,359,145 legal abortions were reported to CDC Table_1, a decrease of 2.1% from the number reported for 1991 (1), and the number of live births decreased by 1.1% (2). As a result, the national abortion ratio (number of legal abortions per 1000 live births) decreased from 339 in 1991 to 335 in 1992 Figure_1. The national abortion rate (number of legal abortions per 1000 women aged 15-44 years) also declined from 24 in 1991 to 23 in 1992. This rate increased each year from 1972 to 1980 (when it peaked {25}); since 1980, the rate has remained stable, fluctuating from 23 to 24. As in previous years, approximately 92% of women who had a legal abortion were residents of the state in which the procedure was performed.

Women who obtained legal abortions in 1992 were predominately aged less than 25 years, white, and unmarried. Compared with 1991, a lower proportion of women who had abortions in 1992 had had live-born children (48% and 46%, respectively). Curettage (suction and sharp) remained the primary abortion procedure (approximately 99% of all such procedures). As in previous years, approximately half of legal abortions were performed during the first 8 weeks of gestation Table_1: 14% of abortions were performed at less than or equal to 6 weeks, 15% at 7 weeks, and 21% at 8 weeks' gestation. As in previous years, approximately 89% of abortions were performed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Reported by: Statistics and Computer Resources Br, Div of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: The annual number of abortions in the United States has remained relatively stable since 1980, varying each year by less than or equal to 5%. However, since 1990 (the year in which the number of abortions was highest), the number of abortions has decreased each year. In 1992, the national ratio of abortions to live births was lower than for any year since 1977, indicating that a greater proportion of pregnancies ended in a live birth (3). The national fertility rate (number of live births per 1000 women of reproductive age {15-44 years}) also peaked in 1990 and has declined somewhat since then (2).

As in previous years, most women who obtained an abortion were white. However, the abortion rate for black women is approximately three times that for white women (CDC, unpublished data, 1991). Differences in abortion by race may reflect differences in socioeconomic status, education level, contraceptive use, and access to family planning, contraceptive, and abortion services.

Although the total number of legal induced abortions during 1992 was available for all 52 reporting areas, approximately 26% of the abortions were reported from states that do not have centralized reporting; these areas could not provide information on the characteristics of women obtaining abortions. Interpretation of temporal comparisons is constrained because the number of states that report characteristics varies each year.

Many states emphasize the prevention of unintended pregnancy, particularly among teenagers. Abortion and birth statistics both are essential to provide estimates of pregnancy rates. To assist efforts to prevent unintended pregnancy, an accurate assessment of abortion (including the number and characteristics of women obtaining legal abortions in all states) is needed on an ongoing basis. In 1992, most areas reported abortions at less than or equal to 8 weeks of gestation by week of gestation for the first time. This approach to reporting will assist in monitoring trends in legal abortions.

Additional statistical and epidemiologic information about legal induced abortions is available from CDC's automated Reproductive Health Information line at (404) 330-1230, which provides information by fax, voice recordings, or mail.

References

  1. CDC. Abortion surveillance: preliminary data -- United States, 1991. MMWR 1994;43:42-4.

  2. NCHS. Advance report of final natality statistics, 1992. Hyattsville, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, 1994. (Monthly vital statistics report; vol 43, no. 5, suppl).

  3. CDC. Abortion surveillance, 1977. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, 1979.




Figure_1

Figure_1
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Table_1
Note: To print large tables and graphs users may have to change their printer settings to landscape and use a small font size.

TABLE 1. Reported number of legal induced abortions, abortion ratios, * abortion rates, + and characteristics of women who
obtained legal induced abortions -- United States, selected years, 1972-1992
=========================================================================================================================================
                                                             Year
                    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Characteristic      1972        1976         1980         1985         1988         1989         1990         1991          1992 &
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reported no.
 legal induced
 abortions         586,760     988,267      1,297,606    1,328,570    1,371,285    1,396,658    1,429,577    1,388,937     1,359,145
Abortion ratios      180         312          359          354          352          346          345          339           335
Abortion rates        13          21           25           24           24           24           24           24            23

                                                         Percentage distribution @
                 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Residence
 In-state            56.2        90.0         92.6         92.4        91.4          91.0         91.8        91.6           91.7
 Out-of-state        43.8        10.0          7.4          7.6         8.6           9.0          8.2         8.4            8.3

Age group (yrs)
    <=19             32.6        32.1         29.2         26.3        25.3          24.2         22.4        21.0           20.1
   20-24             32.5        33.3         35.5         34.7        32.8          32.6         33.2        34.4           34.6
    >=25             34.9        34.6         35.3         39.0        41.9          43.2         44.4        44.6           45.3

Race
 White               77.0        66.6         69.9         66.6        64.4          64.2         64.8        63.8           62.9
 Black               23.0        33.4         30.1         29.8        31.1          31.2         31.8        32.5           33.3
 Other                --          --           --           3.5         4.5           4.6          3.4         3.7            3.8

Ethnicity
 Hispanic             --          --           --           --          --            --           9.8        13.5           15.1
 Non-Hispanic         --          --           --           --          --            --          90.2        86.5           84.9

Marital status
 Married             29.7        24.6         23.1         19.3        20.3          20.1         21.7        21.4           20.7
 Unmarried           70.3        75.4         76.9         80.7        79.7          79.9         78.3        78.6           79.3

No. live births **
  0                  49.4        47.7         58.4         56.3        52.4          52.2         49.2        47.7           46.3
  1                  18.2        20.7         19.4         21.6        23.4          23.6         24.4        25.1           25.7
  2                  13.3        15.4         13.7         14.5        16.0          15.9         16.9        17.4           17.9
  3                   8.7         8.3          5.3          5.1         5.6           5.7          6.1         6.4            6.6
 >=4                 10.4         7.9          3.2          2.5         2.6           2.6          3.4         3.4            3.5

Type of procedure
 Curettage           88.6        92.8         95.5         97.5        98.6          98.8         98.8        98.9           98.9
  Suction            65.2        82.6         89.8         94.6        95.1          97.1         96.0        97.3           97.9
  Sharp              23.4        10.2          5.7          2.9         3.5           1.7          2.8         1.6            1.0
 Intrauterine
  instillation       10.4         6.0          3.1          1.7         1.1           0.9          0.8         0.7            0.7
 Other ++             1.0         1.2          1.4          0.8         0.3           0.3          0.4         0.4            0.4

Weeks of gestation
     <=8             34.0        47.0         51.7         50.3        48.7          49.8         51.6        52.3           52.6
     <=6              --          --           --           --          --            --           --          --            13.8 &&
       7              --          --           --           --          --            --           --          --            15.2 &&
       8              --          --           --           --          --            --           --          --            20.9 &&
    9-10             30.7        28.1         26.2         26.6        26.4          25.8         25.3        25.1           24.6
   11-12             17.5        14.4         12.2         12.5        12.7          12.6         11.7        11.5           11.6
   13-15              8.4         4.5          5.1          5.9         6.6           6.6          6.4         6.1            5.9
   16-20              8.2         5.1          3.9          3.9         4.5           4.2          4.0         3.9            4.1
    >=21              1.2         0.9          0.9          0.8         1.1           1.0          1.0         1.1            1.2
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 * Per 1000 live births.
 + Per 1000 women aged 15-44 years.
 & Preliminary data.
 @ Excludes unknown values. The number of areas reporting a given characteristic varied. For 1992, the
   number of areas reporting residence was 41; age, 42; race, 35; ethnicity, 21; marital status, 38;
   number of live births, 38; type of procedure, 38; and weeks of gestation, 38.
** For 1972-1976, data indicate number of living children.
++ Includes hysterotomy and hysterectomy.
&& Data are for 34 reporting areas only.
==========================================================================================================================================

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