Why Has the Abortion Rate Declined?

By Joe Carter - Posted at The Gospel Coalition:

Published January 20, 2018

Since the annual March for Life was yesterday and Sanctity of Life Sunday is tomorrow, let’s take time today to consider an important pro-life data point: the abortion rate.

The abortion rate is calculated by taking the number of pregnancies terminated by an abortion, multiplying by 1,000, and dividing by the female population ages of between 15 and 44 years. The reported abortion rate in the United States has been declining for decades and declined 25 percent between 2008 and 2014, the last year data is available.

That’s good news—if it’s true. But the reality is that we don’t know the real abortion rate. And we can only guess at what is causing a decline in the reported rate.


Statistics on national abortion rates are collected and provided from two sources, one public—the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)—and one private—the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute.

The problem with the CDC rate is underreporting. The CDC does not require individual states to provide data on abortions, and three states refuse to do so: California, Maryland, and New Hampshire. In 2017, California had a population of 39,536,653, Maryland a population of 6,052,177, and New Hampshire a population of 1,342,795. The estimated population for the entire United States in 2017 was 325,719,178, which means 14.4 percent of the population was not included in the CDC’s abortion data.