Abortion Reporting: North Dakota (2019)

Tessa Longbons  

North Dakota’s abortion report for 2019 was published in June 2020. There were 20 fewer abortions in 2019 than in 2018.


Changes in North Dakota Abortions, 2018-2019

Information on Planned Parenthood’s North Dakota market share is not included in the report, but Planned Parenthood operates no centers in North Dakota.


Abortion Totals and Trends


In 2019, there were 1,121 abortions reported in North Dakota (Fig. 1). This represented a drop of just under two percent from 2018, when 1,141 abortions were reported in the state. Not quite a third of the total were chemical abortions, with chemical abortions increasing by 14 percent from 2018 to 2019. The Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) estimates that North Dakota’s abortion rate is 7.6 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age, much lower than the national rate. In 2019, the state’s abortion rate declined by two percent from the previous year (Fig. 2).


State Report Summary


Less than three-quarters of the abortions occurring in North Dakota in 2019 were performed on North Dakota residents. Twenty-six percent of North Dakota abortions were on nonresident women, with 21 percent performed on women from Minnesota, four percent on South Dakota women, and one percent on women from other states. North Dakota is one of the states with the highest percentages of abortions performed on nonresidents.


Eleven percent of North Dakota abortions were performed on girls under the age of 20. Thirty-one percent were performed on women ages 20 to 24, and 29 percent were on women ages 25 to 29. Seventeen percent were performed on women ages 30 to 34, dropping to 10 percent on women ages 35 to 39. Three percent were on women age 40 or older.


In 2019, 64 percent of North Dakota abortions were reported to have been performed on white women. Seventeen percent were on black women, and 10 percent were performed on Native American women. Among the 29 states that have publicly reported the number of abortions performed on American Indian or Alaska Native women, North Dakota reports the third-highest percentage, right behind Alaska and New Mexico. Four percent of North Dakota abortions were on Asian women, and five percent were on women of other or unknown races. However, the proportion of abortions performed on women of Asian descent may be higher, because the demographics section of North Dakota’s abortion reporting form provides only four options for the mother’s race: white, black, Native American, and other, with a blank to specify the other race (such as Asian). CLI estimates that in 2019, the white abortion rate was 5.6 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, the Native American rate was 11.7, and the black rate was 28.4.


Over a third of the women undergoing abortions in North Dakota (37 percent) had an associate’s degree or higher. Twelve percent had completed some college but had no degree, and another 37 percent had a high school diploma. Twelve percent had not completed high school, and education status was not reported for two percent of the women getting abortions. Eighty-five percent of the abortions were performed on unmarried women, and 14 percent were on women who were married.


Forty percent of the abortions reported in North Dakota were on women with no living children. Twenty-two percent were on women with one child, and 38 percent were on women with two or more children. Sixty-nine percent had never had an abortion before, 18 percent had one previous abortion, and 13 percent had more than one. January had the most abortions (132) and November had the fewest (71).


Most of the abortions reported in North Dakota occurred early in pregnancy, with 85 percent reported at 10 weeks of gestation or earlier: 17 percent occurred at or before five weeks, 22 percent at six weeks, 30 percent from seven to eight weeks, and 16 percent from nine to 10 weeks. In contrast, seven percent were performed between 11 and 12 weeks of gestation, and another seven percent occurred from 13 to 15 weeks of pregnancy. Two percent were performed at 16 weeks or later. North Dakota limits abortion at approximately 22 weeks of gestation, but the state’s only abortion center advertises abortion until around 16 weeks.


North Dakota’s abortion report does not include the types of procedures used to perform abortions in the state, but this information was provided to the Charlotte Lozier Institute upon request. In 2019, as in other years, the majority of the abortions were suction curettage procedures (68 percent). Thirty-two percent were chemical abortions, up from 2018, when 28 percent of the abortions were induced chemically. There were four other, unspecified procedures.


Changes in Abortions Since 2000


Over the past two decades of annual reports, North Dakota abortion trends have shifted. A larger percentage of North Dakota abortions are now performed on resident women. In 2000, 64 percent of the abortions were performed on North Dakota residents, while by 2019, 74 percent were on resident women. Additionally, a larger proportion of abortions are now performed on older women. In 2000, the majority of the abortions (55 percent) were on women under the age of 25, while a third were on women ages 25-34. In 2019, just 42 percent of the abortions were on women under the age of 25, with 46 percent on women ages 25-34. The racial composition of North Dakota abortions has changed as well. A large majority of North Dakota abortions, 88 percent, were performed on white women in 2000, decreasing to just 64 percent in 2019. Abortions performed on black women trended upward from one percent of the total in 2000 to 17 percent in 2019. Over the same time period, North Dakota’s population has become more diverse: black women composed less than one percent of North Dakota women ages 15 to 44 in 2000, but made up more than five percent of the population in 2019.


State Ranking


In CLI’s 2016 overview of state abortion reporting, North Dakota tied for 19th best. To improve its reporting, North Dakota could report the type of abortion procedures used in the state. Additionally, North Dakota could include information on the types of facilities where abortions are performed, such as how many occurred in clinics and how many in hospitals. The state could also collect and report data on complications caused by abortion, including those treated at emergency rooms given the rise in chemical abortions and their elevated rate of complications relative to surgical abortions.

  1. 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 North Dakota ÷ number of resident women ages 15-44) x 1,000. Rates may differ slightly from previous CLI articles due to revised population estimates.

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