Abortion Reporting: Virginia (2020)
Virginia’s 2020 abortion facility statistics were provided to the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) upon request and their annual state abortion report is available online. The reports show that abortions increased ever so slightly from 2019.
Statistics and Changes in Virginia Abortions, 2019-2020
Abortion Totals and Trends
In 2020, there were 15,604 abortions reported in Virginia, up just three abortions from the previous year (Fig. 1). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 48 percent of these were chemical abortions, which rose 28 percent from 2019. CLI estimates that Virginia’s abortion rate was 9.2 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age, lower than the national rate and steady from 2019. (Fig. 2).
Virginia makes abortion statistics available in three separate reports: a table of abortions by facility provided to CLI by the Virginia Department of Health upon request, another table of abortions by county of residence, and a full vital statistics report that contains most of the commonwealth’s abortion data. The most recent vital statistics report is for 2016 data, and it is unclear when an updated report will be released. However, Virginia shares abortion data with the CDC, and additional information is available in the CDC’s 2020 abortion surveillance report.
While Virginia reported 15,604 abortions to the CDC, the Guttmacher Institute estimated that 18,740 abortions occurred in Virginia in 2020, a 20.1 percent higher total than the total Virginia reported.
State Report Summary
There were 15,167 abortions performed on Virginia residents in 2020. Of the abortions performed on Virginia residents, 41 percent were performed on white women. Forty-five percent of the abortions were on black women, who experienced the highest abortion rate at 17.8 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, a rate more than three times higher than the white rate of 5.5. Fourteen percent of the abortions were on women of other races. Eighty-eight percent of the abortions were on unmarried women, but the report does not specify the percentage performed on married women versus those of unknown marital status.
Virginia’s 2020 Facility Report
In 2020, 98 percent of the abortions reported in Virginia were performed in abortion centers, while the remainder were reported by hospitals. Planned Parenthood’s abortion centers performed 37.3 percent of the abortions, compared to 41 percent in 2018. Planned Parenthood Virginia League’s center in Richmond, Virginia was the highest-volume center, accounting for 1,945 abortions, 13 percent of the total reported in the commonwealth. Virginia’s Planned Parenthood League opened a new center in the east end since the last year of data analyzed by the Charlotte Lozier Institute (2018), bringing the number of Planned Parenthood centers up to six in Virginia.
Although Virginia’s full vital statistics report for 2020 has not yet been published, additional information is available in the national 2020 abortion surveillance report released by the CDC. The CDC’s Virginia abortion occurrence totals match up with Virginia’s 2020 abortion occurrence by facility report (15,604 abortions). However, the CDC reports that 14,537 of the total abortions were on Virginia residents, while the state’s 2020 table of abortions by county of residence reports that 15,167 of the total abortions in Virginia were on Virginia residents. The Virginia Department of Health did not note the reason for the discrepancy, but in past years, Virginia’s table of abortions by county of residence has included abortions obtained by Virginia residents in other states, so it is possible that this accounts for the difference.
In 2020, a majority of the abortions reported by Virginia were performed on women in their twenties, with 26 percent on women ages 20 to 24 and 29 percent on women ages 25 to 29. Thirty-three percent were on women in their thirties, and four percent were on women aged 40 or older. Seven percent of the abortions were on girls under the age of 20. Age was not reported for six women.
According to the occurrence data Virginia shared with the CDC, non-Hispanic black women composed the largest racial group undergoing abortions in the commonwealth in 2020 at 43 percent of the total Thirty-one percent of the abortions were on non-Hispanic white women and nine percent were on non-Hispanic women of other races. Another nine percent of the abortions were on Hispanic women, while seven percent were on women of unknown race. Eighty-eight percent of the abortions were on unmarried women, compared to 12 percent on married women.
Just over half the abortions (52 percent) were on women with no previous abortions. Twenty-nine percent were on women with one prior abortion, and 19 percent were on women with two or more previous abortions. Thirty-six percent of the abortions were obtained by women with no previous live births, compared to 26 percent performed on women with one previous live birth and another 38 percent on women with two or more prior live births.
Fifty-five percent of the abortions reported in Virginia occurred at six weeks of gestation or earlier. Thirty-one percent were performed between seven and nine weeks, and 11 percent occurred between 10 and 13 weeks. There were 101 abortions (0.6 percent) between 14 and 15 weeks and 99 between 16 and 17 weeks, while 0.9 percent (139 abortions) were performed between 18 and 20 weeks of gestation. One-hundred and eight abortions (0.7 percent) occurred at 21 weeks of gestation or later. Gestational age was not reported for one abortion.
Fifty-two percent of the abortions were performed using surgical procedures, and 48 percent were chemical abortions. There were zero hysterectomy or hysterotomy abortions, and no intrauterine instillation abortions. Twenty-eight abortions either had the type of procedure suppressed to meet the CDC’s data suppression guidelines or did not have the abortion method reported.
In January 2023, Virginia Democrats blocked a bill in the legislature that would have prohibited abortion at the point at which babies can feel pain (15 weeks gestation). The bill contained exceptions to save the life of the mother and in the cases of rape and incest. Governor Glenn Youngkin made it a point to support such a commonsense measure in his December 2022 budget proposal but Virginia Democrats blocked it from reaching a full committee hearing. Virginia Democratic lawmakers also blocked another bill that would have prohibited all abortions except to save the life of the mother or if the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest and was prior to 20 weeks’ gestation.
In CLI’s 2016 survey of abortion reporting across the United States, Virginia’s reports tied for 29th best. Virginia could improve its reporting by compiling and publishing its abortion data on a regular schedule that reflects data from the previous year. Virginia could also improve its reporting by ensuring that all abortions that occur in the state are reported to the Virginia Department of Health. Lastly, Virginia could collect and report information on complications caused by abortion.
- Virginia’s chemical abortion values for 2017-2020 are from the CDC’s national abortion surveillance reports from those respective years.
- Rates were calculated by CLI using population estimates from the CDC. The rates were calculated using the following formula: (total number of abortions performed in Virginia ÷ number of resident women ages 15-44) x 1,000. Rates may differ slightly from previous CLI articles due to revised population estimates. Estimates for 2005-2009 are intercensal estimates of the July 1 resident population. Estimates for 2010-2020 are Vintage 2020 postcensal estimates of the July 1 resident population. Estimates were produced by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics.