As Alabama abortion law grabs headlines, a look at the data

Updated: May. 17, 2019 at 4:21 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The State of Alabama is making headlines for passage of the nation’s strictest abortion law, which makes the procedure a felony at any stage of pregnancy unless the mother’s health is endangered.

We reached out to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Center for Health Statistics for perspective on the number of abortions conducted in the state and the other data the state collects.

The latest data comes from 2017 and provides insight into things such as the number of abortions, types of abortions, and age ranges and educational levels of those obtaining the abortion.

What the report does not include, however, is any data regarding rape and incest - one of the abortion law’s most controversial aspects because it doesn’t include any exception for either. According to the center’s director, Nicole Henderson Rushing, MPH, the state doesn’t collect that data for its statistics.

Here’s the breakdown on abortions across Alabama for 2017. A full report can be read HERE.

For 2017, there were 6,768 total abortions for Alabama residents*

  • WHITE - 2,316 (34 percent)
  • BLACK - 4,187 (62 percent)
  • OTHER/NOT STATED - 265 (4 percent)
  • WHITE - 70 (32 percent)
  • BLACK - 145 (66 percent)
  • OTHER/NOT STATED (2 percent)
  • 10 to 14 - 23 (less than 1 percent)
  • 15 to 19 - 686 (10 percent)
  • 20 to 24 - 2,155 (32 percent)
  • 25 to 29 - 2,006 (30 percent)
  • 30 to 34 - 1,131 (17 percent)
  • 35 to 39 - 612 (10 percent)
  • 40 to 44 - 144 (less than 1 percent)
  • 45 and Older - 11 (less than 1 percent)

Of the women having an abortion, the vast majority - 88 percent - were unmarried at the time of the procedure.

About 37 percent of women who had an abortion in 2017 never previously had a live birth. Those who’d previously given birth either once or twice made up just under 50 percent of all abortion patients.

At the highest end of the reporting, ACHS’s data shows six women had abortions after giving live birth more than eight times.

Most women, about 66 percent, who had an abortion in 2017 had never obtained one before. About 23 percent had obtained one prior. The numbers continue to fall off beyond that. Seven percent had two previous procedures.

At the greatest number, ACHS data shows one patient had obtained eight prior abortions before their 2017 termination.

Most women - 87 percent - who sought an abortion in 2017 had completed an education level of 12th grade or higher.

For 2017, most pregnancies - about 56 percent - were terminated at a clinically estimated eight weeks of gestation or less. None of the documented abortions occurred beyond the 22nd week when just two were performed.

Alabama currently has several facilities and hospitals that can perform an abortion.

The majority of abortions performed at a facility - 52 percent - were done at West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa, while Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville performed 26 percent. Reproductive Health Services in Montgomery performed 17 percent of the state’s abortions.

Planned Parenthood was responsible for 314 abortions, accounting for about half of one percent of all abortions.

Hospitals performed six abortions during 2017 with Huntsville Hospital responsible for all but one.

*The ACHS says its data is based on abortions performed for Alabama residents either in Alabama or as reported by other states where they sought the procedure. Some states don’t provide data on other states’ residents’ abortions, so the numbers are not representative of the entire population of the state having an abortion.

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