Abortion Reporting: Mississippi (2018)

Tessa Longbons  

The Mississippi State Department of Health provided Mississippi’s 2018 abortion statistics to the Charlotte Lozier Institute upon request in February 2020.


Changes in Mississippi Abortions, 2017-2018

The report does not include information on Planned Parenthood’s Mississippi abortion market share. However, Planned Parenthood operates no abortion centers in Mississippi.


Abortion Totals and Trends


In 2018, there were 3,005 abortions reported in Mississippi, marking the first year since 2005 that more than 3,000 abortions were reported in the state (Fig. 1). Abortions increased by 16 percent from the 2,594 reported in 2017. Chemical abortions also increased, rising by 13 percent from 1,811 in 2017 to 2,049 in 2018. Despite this increase, Mississippi’s abortion rate of 5.1 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age is still far below the national rate (Fig. 2).


State Report Summary


Mississippi’s annual abortion report contains information on all abortions occurring in the state. Eighty-nine percent of the abortions reported in Mississippi in 2018 were performed on Mississippi residents, while 11 percent were performed on women from other states, with 10 percent on women from states bordering Mississippi and one percent on women from non-border states. Separately, the Mississippi Statistically Automated Health Resource System (MSTAHRS) reports abortions performed on Mississippi residents, including both abortions performed in Mississippi and abortions performed in other states. MSTAHRS does not include abortions performed on nonresidents in Mississippi. MSTAHRS shows that abortions performed on Mississippi residents increased by nine percent from 4,289 in 2017 to 4,693 in 2018. Subtracting the 2,688 abortions that were reported to have been performed in Mississippi on state residents in 2018 leaves 2,005 Mississippi women who went out of state for abortions. MSTAHRS cautions that recent changes to Tennessee reporting have caused an increase in reported abortions to Mississippi residents in recent years.


A majority of the 3,005 abortions occurring in Mississippi, 61 percent, were performed on women in their twenties. Thirty percent were on women ages 20 to 24 and 31 percent on women ages 25 to 29. Twenty-seven percent of Mississippi abortions were performed on women in their thirties and two percent on women in their forties. Ten percent were on girls age 19 and younger, including 13 abortions on girls under the age of 15.


A disproportionately high number of Mississippi abortions were performed on black women. Seventy-two percent were on black women, compared to just 24 percent on white women and four percent on women of other races. CLI estimates that the black abortion rate in Mississippi was 8.5 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age, over three-and-a-half times the white abortion rate of 2.3.


Most of the abortions (over 89 percent) were on unmarried women, while just over nine percent were on women who were married. One percent were on women whose marital status was not reported. More than two-thirds of the abortions were on women who already had children; 29 percent had one living child, and 39 percent had two or more children. In comparison, two-thirds of the abortions were performed on women who had never had an abortion before. Twenty-three percent had one previous abortion, and 11 percent had more than one.


Twenty-three percent of the abortions were performed on women who had a high school diploma as their highest level of education, while 30 percent were on women who had completed some college and 33 percent on women with a college degree. Nine percent of the abortions were obtained by women who had less than a high school education, and five percent were on women whose level of education was unreported.


The vast majority of Mississippi abortions (3,001 abortions) were performed at 16 weeks of gestation or earlier. Mississippi’s single abortion center, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, performs abortions up to 16 weeks. Sixty-four percent were performed at eight weeks or earlier, while 17 percent occurred between nine and 10 weeks of gestation. Nine percent were performed between 11 and 12 weeks, and 10 percent were performed between 13 and 16 weeks. Just four abortions were reported after 16 weeks of gestation. Three occurred between 17 and 20 weeks, and one was performed at 21 weeks of gestation or later.


Sixty-eight percent of the abortions reported in Mississippi in 2018 were chemical abortions, a much higher proportion than the national average. Thirty-two percent were performed using suction curettage. There were two hysterectomy or hysterotomy abortions and one dilation and evacuation abortion. One abortion was performed using an unreported method. There were zero abortion complications reported in 2018. However, the high volume of chemical abortions occurring in Mississippi, with over 2,000 performed in 2018, suggests complications may have gone unreported. Chemical abortions have a higher complication rate than surgical abortions at the same gestational age and can require a follow-up surgical procedure in over five percent of cases.


Pro-Life Legislation in Mississippi


In 2018, Mississippi enacted a law to limit abortion at 15 weeks of gestation, which was immediately challenged by Jackson Women’s Health Organization (JWHO). The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi granted a preliminary injunction blocking the law, a decision that was upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in late 2019. Mississippi plans to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.


In 2019, Mississippi enacted a heartbeat bill to limit abortion once an unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected. Once again, JWHO challenged the law. The heartbeat law was blocked by a preliminary injunction from the district court, and the district court’s ruling was affirmed by the Fifth Circuit in early 2020.


State Ranking


In the Charlotte Lozier Institute’s 2016 survey of abortion reporting across the 50 states, New York City, and the District of Columbia, Mississippi’s reporting tied for 25th best. To provide a clearer view of the reasons for the increase in Mississippi abortions and where abortions are happening, Mississippi could provide more detailed information on the states to which Mississippi residents travel for abortions. The Magnolia State could also improve its tracking of abortion complications and ensure that all complications are being reported as required by state regulations.


  1. Zero chemical abortions were reported in Mississippi prior to 2012; however, some chemical may have been unreported. See CLI’s summary of Mississippi’s 2017 abortion statistics for more information.
  2. Starting with the 2018 abortion reports, abortion rates are calculated by the Charlotte Lozier Institute to allow for easier state-to-state and year-to-year comparisons. Rates were calculated by CLI using population estimates from the United States Census Bureau. The rates were calculated using the following formula: (total number of abortions performed in Mississippi ÷ number of resident women ages 15-44) x 1,000. Rates may differ slightly from previous CLI articles due to revised population estimates.


Click here to view reporting from:20192017


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