New abortion data from the Centers for Disease Control show a small increase in the national abortion rate, but overall, the abortion rate has been on the decline for the past decade.
Data from 2018, the most recent year available, shows that the U.S. abortion rate overall has decreased by 24% since 2009.
“Among the 48 areas that reported data continuously during 2009-2018, decreases were observed during 2009-2017 in the total number, rate and ratio of reported abortions, and these decreases resulted in historic lows for this period for all three measures. These decreases were followed by 1%-2% increases across all measures from 2017 to 2018,” according to the report, which was published Nov. 27.
Missouri was among states with the lowest abortion rates and ratios, according to CDC data. In Missouri in 2018, the abortion rate was 2.5 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 years. Its abortion ratio was 40 abortions per 1,000 live births. Missouri is one of six states that have only one abortion clinic.
A few caveats about the CDC data: Information is considered incomplete because state reporting to the CDC is voluntary and not all areas participate. Additionally, the latest information was from 2018, well before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Provisional information for 2019 from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services shows that Missouri resident abortions decreased 23.9 percent, with 4,660 Missouri residents obtaining abortions, compared to 6,125 in 2018.
The precision of the data is unclear, however, because not all states provide Missouri with complete abortion data, according to the health department’s report. Some states such as Illinois do not appear to provide a complete picture of their available data for Missouri resident abortions, for example.
In October 2019, Planned Parenthood opened a facility in Fairview Heights, Illinois, which offers surgical and drug-induced abortions. Abortions at Planned Parenthood’s Reproductive Health Services in St. Louis — the last clinic remaining in Missouri — have sharply declined. Other abortion outlets include the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, Illinois, as well as access to abortifacient drugs.
Pro-life lobbyist Deacon Sam Lee said that the challenge for the pro-life movement is in reaching Missouri women before they decide to leave the state to obtain an abortion. “We can regulate clinics, and there is one left in St. Louis doing a small number of abortions,” he said. “How does the pro-life movement reach those women before they go out of the state? That’s the challenge. With states like Illinois having liberalized abortion laws and removing restrictions — that as a movement is what we’re facing.
“We need to continue to support our agencies that help women whether they are considering abortions in state or out of state,” he said.