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Current Trends Abortion Surveillance: Preliminary Analysis -- United States, 1984, 1985

The total number of legal abortions reported to CDC from the 50 states and the District of Columbia was 1,333,521 in 1984 and 1,328,570 in 1985 (Table 1). The number of abortions reported for 1984 was approximately 5% higher than the number reported for 1983, whereas virtually no change occurred in the number reported between 1984 and 1985 (less than 1% decrease between 1984 and 1985).

In 1984, the national abortion ratio was 364.1 legal abortions per 1000 live births (Table 1). The ratio was 353.8 in 1985. The national abortion rate (number of legal abortions per 1000 women 15-44 years of age) was 24 for both 1984 and 1985, a figure essentially unchanged since 1980.

As in previous years, women obtaining abortions in 1984 and 1985 tended to be young, white, and unmarried and to have had no live births (Table 1). In 1985, 61.0% of women obtaining legal abortions were less than 25 years of age, 66.6% were white, 80.7% were unmarried, and 56.5% had had no live births. Comparable figures were also reported for 1984.

Curettage (suction curettage and sharp curettage) continued to be the primary method of abortion and accounted for 96.6% and 97.8% of all abortion procedures in 1984 and 1985, respectively. The remaining abortions were performed by intrauterine instillation, hysterotomy/hysterectomy, and other procedures. In both 1984 and 1985, as in previous years, approximately half of the legal abortions were performed in the first 8 weeks of gestation, and nearly 90% in the first 12 weeks of gestation. Reported by: Pregnancy Epidemiology Br and Research and Statistics Br, Div of Reproductive Health, Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: CDC initiated national abortion surveillance in 1969. Between 1969 and 1982, the reported number of women obtaining abortions increased yearly. However, the annual percentage increase in numbers of abortions declined continuously between 1976 and 1982, from 9.2% for 1976-1977 to 0.2% for 1981-1982. Since 1980, the abortion numbers, ratios, and rates appear to be relatively stable, with minor year-to-year fluctuations.

Twenty-eight of the 52 reporting areas reported more abortions for 1984 than for 1983 (average increase of 8.9%); the remaining areas reported fewer (average decrease of 10.9%). Twenty-two of the areas reported more abortions in 1985 than in 1984 (average increase of 4.6%); the remaining 30 areas reported fewer (average decrease 5.2%).

Because of annual variation in the number of states reporting data to CDC on specific characteristics of women obtaining abortions, temporal trends based on these summary data should be viewed with caution.

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