I’m going to tell you today what the Centers for Disease Control won’t announce for another 10 or 11 months. It’s not good news. America’s abortion rate and abortion total rose for the fourth straight year in 2021—which was the final year of Roe v Wade. There’s some hope that the fall of Roe last June will have reduced total abortions in 2022—at least marginally, but we probably won’t know that for at least another year. As I’ve lamented before, the dearth of timely and reliable statistics makes abortion even harder to combat. By the time a trend emerges, it’s already 2-3 years behind us.
As you may already know, there are two sources for abortion data in the United States—and neither offers complete results. The CDC publishes an abortion report each year, typically 23 months after the fact, but they don’t include abortions from California, Maryland, New Hampshire, or most of New Jersey. Those states don’t collect and report abortion totals, which makes accurate nationwide totals impossible—especially since more abortions occur in California than anywhere else in the country. The Guttmacher Institute—a private entity which began as the research arm of Planned Parenthood—publishes an abortion report every three years. Their most recent report covered 2020 and was published this past November. If the pattern holds, their next report will cover 2023 and won’t publish until the end of 2025. And though Guttmacher’s totals include every state, they result from voluntary survey data. Typically, just over half of all abortion providers respond. Health department data is used to fill in the gaps. In 2020, only 84% of Guttmacher’s abortion total was based on reported abortions. The rest were estimated on behalf of non-responders.
So you see the problem. In a very real sense, we’re all flying blind. And it’s likely to get worse. Medical abortions made up an estimated 53% of U.S. abortions in 2020. As more states allow these abortion drugs to be distributed through the mail, accurate abortion numbers will be even harder to ascertain. Then there’s pharmacies, which the FDA now says can sell abortion pills in store or by mail. Again, not good. The easier it is to procure an abortion, the more unborn babies are killed—and the more decentralized the distribution model, the harder it is to track those deaths. That’s music to the ears of the abortion industry—though I’m not sure what these changes will mean to the bottom line of individual abortion clinics. At the very least, the pharmaceuticals who sell abortion pills are certainly thrilled. And we all know what noble institutions drug companies are.
Leaving the potential abortion onslaught for another day, let’s return to 2021. As has been my habit for the last decade, I gather state-by-state abortion totals as they’re released to extrapolate a nationwide total well in advance of any official numbers. Some states publish their annual abortion total right on their health department web site. Others make you work for it. As of today, I have 2021 abortion totals for 33 states. Those states accounted for roughly 41% of the nation’s 2020 total. Based on these early returns, I can say that approximately 961,000 U.S. abortions occurred in 2021. That’s up from 930,000 in 2020—which is an increase of 3.3%. Among the 33 reporting states, 14.9% of pregnancies ended in abortion in 2021. I call that the abortion percentage, which is up from 14.7% in 2020—a 1.3% increase. Here’s what it looked like on a state by state basis:
Selected State Abortion & Birth Statistics (2021):
|State||Abortions||Change from '20||Abortion %||Change from '20||Births||Change from '20|
Of the 33 states reporting, the abortion percentage increased in 20 states and fell in 13. Colorado (+12.4%), Hawaii (+20.7%), West Virginia (+35.1%), South Dakota (+47.2%) and Oklahoma (+47.7%) saw the biggest increase in abortion percentage. South Dakota’s jump is a bit misleading since their abortion percentage is nearly the lowest in the country (1.7%). Total abortions rose from 125 to 192. Oklahoma’s jump owed to abortion bans in Texas and Missouri, which pushed some abortion-determined women into the Sooner State. Thankfully, South Dakota and Oklahoma both have abortion bans now in place, so their 2022 numbers should look very different. The biggest decreases in abortion percentage belonged to Texas (-7.3%), Maine (-9.4%), Missouri (-10.3%), Idaho (-10.6%), Rhode Island (-16.1%), and Delaware (-17.9%).
If there’s anything to be encouraged about in the 2021 numbers as a whole, it’s the fact that births rose in 43 states and districts. They only fell in eight. That’s a far cry from 2020 when the birth total fell in every single state, along with DC. In March of 2020, the world shut down over COVID. Nine months later, births fell dramatically. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that “even accounting for seasonality and the usual decline in annual births, the number of births in December 2020 and January 2021 was unusually low and that is very likely the result of the COVID-19 pandemic.” I would simply point out that it was the response to COVID that made people too afraid to have babies, not COVID itself. NPR tells us that after another month of unusually low birth totals in February, “the U.S. saw a 4% gain in births across the final six months of 2021”—as it became increasingly apparent that almost all of the COVID fear mongering was just that. Overall, 2021 births increased by 1.5% nationwide and by 1.7% among states who’ve reported their 2021 abortion totals.
So far as I can tell, abortion is now illegal in 16 states. In 2020, those states accounted for 13.3% of all U.S. abortions. Since the Roe reversal came in June, abortion was illegal in those states for no more than half of 2022. That means the highest abortion reduction we can expect based on the reclassification of abortion in these states is about 6.6%. And we don’t know how many of those abortions still occurred in other states. The CDC will give us those numbers in two years—minus data from California, Maryland, New Hampshire, and New Jersey. Lord willing, I’ll give them to you next January. Until then, we will continue doing all we can to demonstrate that abortion is an act of violence that kills an innocent human being—whether it’s legal or not.
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. Subscribe to Michael's Substack for his latest articles and recordings. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.