FL saw 74,000 abortions in 2020, before Roe fell and the enactment of restrictions

By: - November 23, 2022 4:48 pm

Abortion rights protesters gather in front of the Florida Supreme Court on May 3, 2022. Credit: Danielle J. Brown

Florida reported more than 74,000 legal abortions among women aged 15-44 during 2020, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The numbers, the most recent available, provide a baseline against which to measure abortion restrictions enacted since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in June. Those include a Florida law that bans on most abortions after 15-weeks’ gestation.

The data come from the federal Abortion Surveillance report, and cover most U.S. states and Washington, D.C. Local officials forward their information to the CDC, although California, Maryland, and New Hampshire did not report information from 2020 and therefore are excluded from the survey.

That means that “CDC is unable to report the total number of abortions performed in the United States,: says the report, released this week. It also makes analyzing how Florida stacks up against other states difficult.

Florida reported 74,868 abortions during 2020. Of that number, 3,988 abortions or about 5.3 percent were obtained by out-of-state residents.

The CDC’s report tracks what’s called the abortion rate, the number of abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44. For Florida, that rate was 19.1 for the year, among the higher rates in the data set.

Another data point is the “abortion ratio,” or number of abortions per 1,000 live births. For Florida, that was 357.

Nationally (excluding the states mentioned), 620,327 abortions were reported among women aged 15-44, a decrease from 625,346 abortions reported in 2019.

The nationwide abortion rate also fell during those two years, from 11.4 abortions per 1,000 women in 2019 to 11.2 abortions per 1,000 women in 2020.

That said, the abortion ratio increased. In 2020, the ratio was 198 abortions per 1,000 live births. In 2019, it was 195 to 1,000 live births.

“Multiple factors influence the incidence of abortion, including access to health care services and contraception; the availability of abortion providers and clinics; state regulations, such as mandatory waiting periods, parental involvement laws, and legal restrictions on abortion providers and clinics; and changes in the economy and the resulting impact on family planning decisions and contraceptive use,” according to the report.

‘Considerable’ range

The range among data points for different states was “considerable,” according to the report.

The abortion rate in Missouri was 0.1 abortions per 1,000 women, with 167 reported there in 2020, the lowest among the states reporting. Compare that to Washington, D.C., which had an abortion rate of 23 per 1,000 women, or 4,416 abortions during 2020, the highest reported.

A similar range occurred in abortion ratios. Missouri reported two abortions per 1,000 live births in 2020 but Washington, D.C., reported 498.

The reporting year of 2020 marked the start of the COVID pandemic, which the CDC suggests may have played a role in abortion statistics.

“Factors include temporary changes that defined abortion as a nonessential service at the hospital, local, or jurisdiction level, clinic closures, and changes in practice (e.g., shift from surgical abortions to medical abortions, implementation, and uptake of telehealth). In addition, there might have been changes in pregnancy rates because of reduced sexual activity,” the report says.

The year 2020 is significant for Florida particularly, as that was the year the state Legislature passed a parental-consent abortion law that prohibits minors from terminating a pregnancy unless a parent signs off on it. The law went into effect on July 1, 2020.

In 2022, Florida passed the 15-week abortion ban. Since Republicans won supermajorities in the state House and Senate during the recent elections, some anti-abortion advocates are pushing for additional restrictions on the procedure.

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Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University. She has served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine and Rowland Publishing. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat.