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MMWR Surveill Summ. 2009 Nov 27;58(8):1-35.

Abortion surveillance - United States, 2006.

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National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.

Erratum in

  • MMWR Surveill Summ. 2010 May 14;59(18):561.



Since 1969, CDC has conducted abortion surveillance to document the number and characteristics of women obtaining legal induced abortions in the United States.




Each year, CDC requests abortion data from the central health agencies of 52 reporting areas (the 50 states, New York City, and the District of Columbia); these data are provided to CDC voluntarily. In 2006, data were received from 49 reporting areas. For the purpose of trend analysis, data were evaluated from the 46 areas that reported data every year during 1996-2006.


For 2006, a total of 846,181 abortions were reported to CDC. Among the 46 areas that provided data consistently during 1996-2006, a total of 835,134 abortions (98.7% of the total) were reported; the abortion rate was 16.1 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years, and the abortion ratio was 236 abortions per 1,000 live births. During the previous decade (1997-2006), reported abortion numbers, rates, and ratios decreased 5.7%, 8.8%, and 14.8%, respectively; most of these declines occurred before 2001. During the previous year (2005-2006), the total number of abortions increased 3.1%, and the abortion rate increased 3.2%; the abortion ratio was stable. In 2006, as during the previous decade (1997-2006), women aged 20-29 years accounted for the majority (56.8%) of abortions and had the highest abortion rates (29.9 abortions per 1,000 women aged 20-24 years and 22.2 abortions per 1,000 women aged 25-29 years); by contrast, abortion ratios were highest at the extremes of reproductive age. Adolescents aged 15-19 years accounted for 16.5% of all abortions in 2006 and had an abortion rate of 14.8 abortions per 1,000 adolescents aged 15-19 years; women aged >or=35 years accounted for a smaller percentage (12.1%) of abortions and had lower abortion rates (7.8 abortions per 1,000 women aged 35-39 years and 2.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged >or=40 years). During 1997-2006, the percentage of abortions and the abortion rate increased among women aged >or=35 years but declined among adolescents aged <or=19 years and among women aged 20-29 years. The majority (62.0%) of abortions in 2006 were performed at <or=8 weeks' gestation; few abortions were performed at 16-20 weeks' gestation (3.7%) or at >or=21 weeks' gestation (1.3%). During 1997-2006, the percentage of abortions performed at <or=8 weeks' gestation increased 11.7%; this increase largely was accounted for by procedures performed at <or=6 weeks' gestation, which increased 66.3%. In 2006, the greatest percentage (87.6%) of abortions were performed by curettage (including vacuum aspiration, sharp curettage, and dilation and evacuation procedures), followed by medical (nonsurgical) abortion (10.6%). Deaths of women associated with complications from abortions for 2006 are being investigated under CDC's Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System. In 2005, the most recent year for which data were available, seven women were reported to have died as a result of complications from known legal induced abortions. No reported deaths were associated with known illegal induced abortions.


Among the 46 areas that reported data consistently during 1996-2006, decreases in the total reported number, rate, and ratio of abortions were attributable primarily to reductions before 2001. During 2005-2006, the total number and rate of abortions increased. In 2005, as in the previous years, reported deaths related to abortions occurred only rarely.


Abortion surveillance in the United States continues to provide the data needed to examine trends in the number and characteristics of women obtaining abortions. Policymakers and program planners can use these data to guide and evaluate efforts to prevent unintended pregnancies.

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