Abortion Reporting: Montana (2020)

Tessa Longbons, Mia Steupert, M.A.   

Montana’s 2020 vital statistics report, which contains the state’s abortion data, was published on the website of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services in February 2022. The report shows that Montana abortions increased in 2020.


Statistics and Changes in Montana Abortions, 2019-2020

This report does not include information on Planned Parenthood’s Montana abortion market share.


Abortion Totals and Trends


In 2020, there were 1,675 abortions reported in Montana, an increase of seven percent from the previous year. Chemical abortions jumped by 19 percent from 2019, making up 65 percent of the Montana total in 2020 (Fig. 1). The Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) estimates that Montana’s abortion rate was 8.4 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, lower than the national rate (Fig. 2). As of October 2022, 36 states had released 2020 abortion statistics, and 23 states reported that abortions had increased.


State Report Summary


Eighty-nine percent of the abortions reported in Montana in 2020 were performed on state residents. Over half the abortions were obtained by women in their twenties, with 27 percent on women ages 20 to 24 and another 27 percent on women ages 25 to 29. Thirty percent of the abortions were performed on women ages 30 to 39. Four percent of Montana abortions were performed on women ages 40 and above, while 12 percent were performed on girls ages 19 and younger.


A majority of Montana abortions were obtained by white women (88 percent), while nine percent were performed on American Indian/Alaska Native women and three percent were on women of other races. Montana has one of the largest percentages of abortions on Native women.


Just over half the abortions reported in Montana were performed on women who had previously given birth (51 percent): a fifth were on women with one prior live birth, and 31 percent were on women with two or more births, compared to 49 percent on women with no previous live births. Forty-three percent of the abortions were performed on women with no prior abortions, while 38 percent were on women with one prior abortion and 19 percent were on women with more than one.


Nearly two-thirds of Montana abortions were chemical (65 percent). Thirty-five percent were surgical abortions, while fewer than five hysterotomy or hysterectomy abortions were reported, and the exact number was suppressed. Seventy-three percent of Montana abortions occurred at eight weeks of gestation or earlier. Twenty-one percent were performed between nine and 13 weeks, and two percent were reported from 14 to 15 weeks. Not quite two percent of the abortions were performed between 16 and 17 weeks of gestation, and a little over one percent occurred between 18 and 20 weeks. Fewer than five abortions were performed after 21 weeks of gestation, and the exact number was suppressed. Six abortions were performed at unknown gestational ages.


Additional Montana Abortion Data


A declaration filed by Montana’s lead vital statistics epidemiologist in a court case over Montana’s pro-life laws includes abortion data in addition to that published in Montana’s vital statistics report. The declaration shows that Planned Parenthood performs a majority of Montana abortions. Between January 1, 2016, and August 18, 2021, 59 percent of Montana abortions were performed by Planned Parenthood, while 41 percent occurred at other abortion facilities.


Additionally, the declaration includes the level of education of women who obtained abortions during this time period. Ten percent of the abortions were performed on women with less than a high school education, while 39 percent were on women with a high school diploma or equivalent and 26 percent on women with some college. Twenty-four percent of the abortions were performed on women with a college degree.


The data in the declaration also indicates that reported Montana abortions may have declined in 2021. According to the declaration, there were 8,402 abortions reported between January 1, 2016, and August 18, 2021. Montana’s vital statistics reports show that there were 8,096 abortions from 2016 to 2020, suggesting that just over 300 abortions were reported in the first half of 2021. Abortions may have declined, or abortion providers could have sent abortion pills by mail and failed to report the abortions to the health department. However, abortion providers have 30 days to file reports, and some reports could have been late, so the final totals may change.


State Ranking


In 2016, CLI examined abortion reporting in each state, and Montana’s reporting was tied at 23rd best. Montana could improve its reporting by stating whether any babies in the state survived attempted abortions, as CLI has previously recommended. Montana could also incorporate additional abortion statistics into its vital statistics reports, including the facilities where abortions occur and the level of education of women who obtain abortions in the state, data which it collects but does not include in its annual report.

  1. Rates were calculated by CLI using the following formula: (total number of abortions performed in Montana ÷ number of resident women ages 15-44) x 1,000. Rates may differ slightly from previous CLI articles due to revised population estimates. Population estimates were obtained from CDC WONDER.

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