New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the U.S. abortion rate is at the lowest it has been in nine years.
The CDC’s data on abortions is collected from the primary health agency of 48 states. However, it does not include information from California, the most populous state in the country. The study examined the abortion rate from 2007 to 2016.
“Researchers found the abortion rate declined from 188 abortions per 1,000 live births in 2015, to 186 abortions in 2016, and 26% over the entire period of the study,” according to The Guardian.
The CDC’s data also shows that there were 623,471 abortions in 2016 with most of them occurring in the first trimester.
Potentially over 8,000 late-term abortions
In the past, abortion proponents have pointed to similar data as evidence that elective late-term abortions are incredible rare.
“‘Abortion on demand’ in the third trimester just does not exist,” said a recent letter to the editor that was published in the Washington Post. “Women who need abortions in late pregnancy have been told by a doctor that their baby has some condition — such as microcephaly or a major, irreparable heart defect — that will make it impossible for that baby to live.”
However, as Alexandra Desanctis points out in National Review, given the large number of abortions, even if just a little more than one percent of them occur in the late stages of pregnancy, it still means that thousands of unborn babies are being terminated who may otherwise survive outside the womb.
“Thanks to medical advancements, the point of fetal viability now falls somewhere around 21 or 22 weeks’ gestation, the earliest a premature infant has been able to survive after birth,” Desanctis noted.
Abortion-rights supporters often like to claim that abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation are rare. According to estimates from the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, about 1.3 percent of annual abortions in the U.S. occur after 20 weeks, which does sound rare — until you consider that the Guttmacher also estimates about 926,000 annual abortions, meaning that about 12,000 take place after viability. As Ramesh Ponnuru often points out, that means there are more post-viability abortions each year than gun homicides, according to the most recent FBI estimates.
If we apply the Guttmacher Institute’s 1.3 percent rate of abortions happening after the 20th week of gestation to the CDC’s data, it means there were about 8,100 late-term abortions in 2016.
Moreover, according to a 2013 Guttmacher study, the “data suggest that most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.”