Everyone is all abuzz over the 5% reduction in abortions shown in the 2009 CDC data. Instead they should be digging a bit deeper to see if the data really represents reality. Some pro-lifers target the reporters who expected an increase in abortions due to the economy. It’s true that poverty for women rose in 2009 and continues to do so.
The CDC is only able to count reported abortions, and therefore the data is necessarily incomplete. State laws requiring abortion reporting to a central agency vary from non-existent to un-enforceable.
The opportunity to induce home abortions and have them completed at hospitals has increased. These events cannot be reported as abortions unless the mom admits to doing something illegal, or accuses someone else of doing something illegal to her. Internet commerce has made home abortion chemistry much more accessible than in the past. Therefore it is unlikely that any numbers reported by the CDC are available. More recently Ulipristal acetate (Ella) has become available with online prescribing, providing a newer home abortion option using accumulated doses.
It should be noted that even without the above consideration, the CDC data on surgical plus mifepristone abortion is not comprehensive.
So far the joyful articles reporting the CDC abortion data of 2009 did not mention the LIMITATIONS section of the report, part of which is quoted below. Note that the CDC only reports 65 -69% of the abortions which are reported by the Alan Guttmacher Institute. Read on:
“The findings in this report are subject to at least four limitations. First, because reporting requirements are established by the individual reporting areas (17), the collection of data varies, and CDC is unable to obtain the total number of abortions performed in the United States. During the period covered by this report, the total annual number of abortions recorded by CDC was 65%–69% of the number recorded by the Guttmacher Institute (12,59), which uses numerous active follow-up techniques to increase the completeness of the data obtained through its periodic national census of abortion providers (12). Although most reporting areas collect and send abortion data to CDC, this information is given to CDC voluntarily. Consequently, during 2000–2009, seven of the 52 reporting areas did not provide CDC data on a consistent annual basis, and for 2009, CDC did not obtain any information from California, Delaware, Maryland, or New Hampshire.***** In addition, whereas most of the reporting areas that send abortion data to CDC have laws requiring medical providers to submit a report for every abortion they perform to a central health agency, in New Jersey and the District of Columbia, medical providers submit this information voluntarily (16). As a result, the abortion numbers these areas report to CDC are incomplete.††††† Moreover, even in states that legally require medical providers to submit a report for all the abortions they perform, enforcement of this requirement varies (60). Consequently, several other reporting areas tend to provide CDC with incomplete numbers.”