Abortions increased during the last year with Roe still in place, CDC report says

1 min read
CDC Abortion report
This 2014 photo shows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta. The CDC is released its first post-Roe abortion statistics report Nov. 22, 2023. (OSV News photo/Tami Chappell, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — The number of abortions in the U.S. increased in 2021, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. national public health agency, and the agency’s last report of such data with Roe v. Wade still in place.

For nearly 50 years following the Jan. 22, 1973, Roe decision, abortion was legally considered a constitutional right. The Supreme Court later overturned the Roe decision in June 2022 with its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, allowing both recent and long-established state laws restricting abortion access to take effect.

Since the Dobbs decision in 2022, states across the country have alternately moved to restrict or expand access to abortion.

The CDC’s annual report on abortion studies both the profiles of those undergoing abortions and by what means. The study only accounts for legal abortions in states that report their data to the federal government. Although the CDC requests data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, it excludes California, Maryland, New Hampshire and New Jersey because they did not provide data. New York City provided its own data.

Abortions on the rise in 2021

The report documented a total of 625,978 abortions in jurisdictions that reported their data, an uptick from the previous year. The data reflects the last full calendar year with Roe still in place.

The CDC’s report about 2020, released in November 2022, found 620,327 abortions were reported during 2020, marking a 2% decline from the CDC’s 2019 report. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that year may have impacted those numbers.

The new report of 2021 statistics found that the vast majority of legal abortions occur before 13 weeks gestation, and more than half of those procedures were carried out via medication, sometimes referred to as a medication or chemical abortion.

Some pro-life groups have called on GOP presidential candidates to embrace a 15-week federal ban on abortion. The 2021 report, as in previous years, found that abortions after this point in pregnancy are statistically low.

The Catholic Church teaches that all human life is sacred and must be respected from conception to natural death. As such, the church opposes direct abortion as an act of violence that takes the life of the unborn child.

After the Dobbs decision, church officials in the U.S. have reiterated the church’s concern for both mother and child, as well as about social issues that push women toward having an abortion.

Kate Scanlon

Kate Scanlon is a national reporter for OSV News covering Washington.