By Rose Hoban
Even as legislators introduce a new bill that could make obtaining an abortion more cumbersome, the data show the number of abortions in North Carolina has steadily declined over the past few years, along with the number of births.
In 2013, 118,983 pregnancies to North Carolina women were recorded by the N.C. State Center for Health Statistics; of those, at least 19,818 were terminated (2013 is the last year for which the center has released complete data).
The abortion rate is calculated by looking at the number of women of reproductive age and seeing how many of those women had abortions in a given year.
Demographers usually think about abortion rates in terms of the number of abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age, generally considered to be 15 to 44 years old. While some females younger than 15 and older than 44 can and do get pregnant and could terminate that pregnancy, the numbers provided by the N.C. State Center for Health Statistics do not reflect those females’ pregnancies.
A note about this map: Numbers shown in county data reflect total pregnancies as reported to the N.C. State Center for Health Statistics. However, more women become pregnant but those data were never reported because their pregnancies ended in early miscarriage.
One provision of the new bill introduced in April would be to compel doctors to document why they perform abortions after 20 weeks of gestational age.
As noted by Chapel Hill obstetrician Amy Bryant, few women have abortions after the 20-week mark and those are usually because of a fetal abnormality, such as lack of a brain, a severe neurological cord abnormality or a genetic disorder that will result in fetal death quite soon after birth.
“It has to do with the best time to see the anatomy of the fetus,” Bryant said. “You can’t see [abnormalities] optimally earlier in the pregnancy. So these problems often can’t be diagnosed until later.”
DHHS data show that in 2013, only 55 women in North Carolina have had documented abortions after 20 weeks gestation.
If you’d like to compare these numbers to prior years, we have a similar map that you can examine here:
NC RESIDENT ABORTIONS: Characteristics of Women Receiving Abortions, NC Residents, 2013
|LOCATION OF PROCEDURE|
|Out of State||533||2.7|
|14 and under||52||0.3|
|35 and over||2,410||12.2|
|Af. Am. Non-Hispanic||8,991||45.4|
|YEARS OF EDUCATION|
|Not completed high school||2,356||11.9|
|High school graduate||5,992||30.2|
|NUMBER OF LIVING CHILDREN|
|2 or more||3,902||19.7|
|NUMBER OF PREVIOUS ABORTIONS|
|3 or more||847||4.3|
|WEEKS OF GESTATION|
|First trimester 0-12 weeks*||16,319||82.3|
|Greater than 20 weeks||55||0.3|
|TYPE OF PROCEDURE|
|*Fetus gender cannot be determined prior to 12 weeks of gestation.|