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Charlotte Lozier Institute

Phone: 202-223-8073
Fax: 571-312-0544

2776 S. Arlington Mill Dr.
#803
Arlington, VA 22206

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Charlotte Lozier Institute

Phone: 202-223-8073
Fax: 571-312-0544

2776 S. Arlington Mill Dr.
#803
Arlington, VA 22206

Maternal & Public HealthAbortion

Abortion Reporting: District of Columbia (2021)

Abortion data for the District of Columbia (D.C.) is available in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) 2021 abortion surveillance report. D.C. continues to have one of the highest abortion rates in the country.

Statistics and Changes in D.C. Abortions, 2020-2021

The report does not include information on Planned Parenthood’s D.C. abortion market share.

Abortion Totals and Trends

The most recent abortion statistics published by the District of Columbia are from 2015. However, D.C. has shared more current information with the CDC to be included in the CDC’s national abortion surveillance report for 2021. According to the data D.C. shared with the CDC, there were 3,870 abortions in 2021, a decrease of 12% from 2020. Chemical abortions also decreased, from 2,358 in 2020 to 1,994 in 2021 – a decrease of 15% (Fig. 1). The CDC estimates that D.C.’s 2021 abortion rate was 21.8 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age, down 14% from a rate of 25.2 in 2020 (Fig. 2).1

Until recently, abortion reporting in the District of Columbia was voluntary, and D.C.’s reports only contained data on abortions performed on resident women. In 2018, D.C. amended its vital statistics code to require abortion reporting and expected to begin receiving reports by late 2019. D.C. has not yet published an annual abortion report since the vital statistics code was updated.

State Report Summary

All the information found in this section is from the 2021 CDC figures.

A minority (29%) of the abortions reported in D.C. were performed on D.C. residents. Seventy-one percent were obtained by non-residents, including 46% of total D.C. abortions obtained by Maryland residents and 22% obtained by Virginia residents. Three percent of the abortions were performed on women from other states.

Ten percent of D.C. abortions were performed on girls ages 19 and younger, including five abortions performed on girls under the age of 15. Twenty-nine percent of the abortions were on 20- to 24-year-olds, and 30% were on women ages 25 to 29. Twenty-eight percent of the abortions were on women in their thirties, and three percent of the abortions were on women aged 40 or older.

In 2021, more than half the abortions (55% or 2,119 abortions) were performed on non-Hispanic black women, 14% on non-Hispanic white women, and 10% were on non-Hispanic women of other races. Eighteen percent of the abortions were performed on Hispanic women, and 4% were on women whose race was not reported. CLI estimates that D.C.’s 2021 black abortion rate was 31.8 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, five times D.C.’s white abortion rate of 6.9.

Just over half (52%) of the District’s abortions were chemical abortions, and 48% were surgical. There were zero intrauterine instillation abortions and zero hysterectomy/hysterotomy abortions.

Abortion in D.C. After the Dobbs Decision

Predictably, the nation’s capital continues to be a top destination for out-of-state women from pro-life states seeking to obtain abortions. As CLI has previously noted, abortion remains legal up until birth in D.C. The CDC’s 2021 report shows that D.C. had the highest abortion rate among all areas that reported abortions. According to Society of Family Planning’s #WeCount initiative, D.C. maintained this position with the highest abortion rate in the country between April 2022 and March 2023. Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington reported that between May 2022 and March 2023, its clinics performed 5,300 abortions (more than the total number of abortions reported in D.C. for all of 2021, including those not performed by Planned Parenthood). Planned Parenthood also noted that after the Dobbs decision, women from Georgia, Florida, West Virginia, North Carolina and Texas were seeking abortions in the District.

State Ranking

In 2016, CLI evaluated state abortion reporting nationwide, and the District of Columbia’s reporting was ranked at 45th best. To improve its reporting, D.C. could publish reports on a faster schedule. In addition, D.C. could ensure that its reporting requirements are enforced and that all abortions are reported. Due to the number of late-term abortion centers in the District, D.C. could collect and report information on complications caused by abortions and the grounds for these abortions.

  1. National rates were calculated by the Guttmacher Institute. D.C. rates were calculated by CLI using the following formula: (total number of abortions performed in D.C. ÷ number of resident women ages 15-44 [based on most recent population estimates]) x 1,000. Rates may differ slightly from previous CLI articles due to revised population estimates. Population estimates were obtained from the CDC WONDER database. Estimates for 2005-2009 are intercensal estimates of the July 1 resident population. Estimates for 2010-2019 are Vintage 2020 postcensal estimates of the July 1 resident population. Estimates for 2020-2021 are Vintage 2021 postcensal estimates of the July 1 resident population. Estimates were produced by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics.

Click here to view reporting from:2020

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