4288.0: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - 5:30 PM

Abstract #14773

U.S. abortion statistics: Shortcomings and a proposal for improvement

Stanley K. Henshaw, PhD, independent consultant, 140 Christie Street, Leonia, NJ 07605, (201) 585-0846, shenshaw@concentric.net

Abortion statistics at the national, state, and local levels are needed for many purposes, including tracking unintended pregnancy, calculating teenage pregnancy rates, and evaluating the impact of pregnancy prevention programs, welfare reform, and other social policies. However, the abortion data collected by many state health departments are incomplete: some abortions go unreported and important variables are omitted from reporting forms. This analysis compares the number of abortions reported by The Alan Guttmacher Institute, which periodically surveys all known abortion providers, with the number reported by state health departments as compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 1996, 12 states were found to have undercounted their abortions by 20% or more and four states had no reporting system. Information on the characteristics of women having abortions is even more incomplete. For example, in 1996, 17 states had no information on the marital status of women having abortions or were missing data for more than 15%. Because a number of states do not report the state of residence of women having abortions in the state, few if any states have complete information on the number of their residents who have abortions in other states. Although state reporting systems have improved in recent years, reporting will not approach completeness without a federal initiative. The most promising approach would combine federal financial support to the states for abortion data processing with strong incentives for states to achieve complete reporting.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this session, the attendee will be able to: 1. Assess the accuracy of the abortion data available for his or her state. 2. Describe a proposal for improving the completeness and comprehensiveness of abortion statistics collected by state health statistics agencies

Keywords: Abortion, Data/Surveillance

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA