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Surveillance Data for Abortion


The Surveillance Data for Abortion includes information on the number and characteristics of women obtaining legal induced abortions, monitors unintended pregnancy, and assists efforts to identify and reduce preventable causes of morbidity and mortality associated with abortions.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Data Years Available: 
Mode of Collection: 
Reports on legal abortions are provided voluntarily by central health agencies in states, New York City, and the District of Columbia and by hospitals and other medical facilities.
Selected Content: 
Age, race/ethnicity, marital status, previous live births, period of gestation, and previous induced abortions of women obtaining legal induced abortions.
Population Covered: 
Women of all ages, including adolescents, who obtain legal induced abortions.

Starting with 2000 data, abortion reports are provided by 49 central health agencies in states, New York City, and the District of Columbia and by hospitals and other medical facilities. In general, procedures are reported by the state in which the procedure is performed. Although the total number of legal abortions is available for those 49 reporting areas, not all areas collect information on the characteristics of women who obtain abortions. The number of areas reporting each characteristic and the number of areas with complete data for each characteristic vary from year to year. Data from reporting areas with more than 15% unknown for a given characteristic are excluded from the analysis of that characteristic.

Response Rates and Sample Size: 

Between 1973 and 1997, the number of abortions is based on 52 reporting areas (50 States, New York City, and the District of Columbia). Since 1998, the number of reporting areas has varied between 49 and 52. In 2005, California, Louisiana, and New Hampshire did not report abortion data to CDC.

Interpretation Issues: 

Between 1998 and 2005, the number of abortions reported to CDC was about 34% less that the total estimated by the Gutmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization for reproductive health research. The three reporting areas that did not report abortions to CDC in 2005 (the largest of which was California) accounted for 18% of all abortions tallied by Gurmacher's 2005 survey.


National Center for Health Statistics. Health United States 2009: With Special Feature on Medical Technology. Hyattsville, Maryland. 2010; pg 446.