Abortion Reporting: Washington (2020)
The State of Washington released its 2020 resident abortion total in November 2022 on its Pregnancy and Abortion Dashboard, as well as an age breakdown of the abortions obtained by Washington residents only. However, more detailed abortion statistics are available in reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Statistics and Changes in Washington Abortions, 2019-2020
The report does not include information on Planned Parenthood’s Washington abortion market share.
Abortion Totals and Trends
Because the abortion statistics published online by the Washington State Department of Health include only resident abortions by age and the total resident abortion count in the state, this summary includes data shared with the CDC by the state of Washington and published in CDC’s 2020 report. The CDC report provides more insight into the demographic information and pregnancy history of women who obtained an abortion in Washington. The state statistics show that there were 16,050 resident abortions performed in Washington in 2020. However, the CDC report shows that there were 16,909 total abortions that occurred in the state in 2020, of which 16,057 were performed on state residents. There were 9,267 chemical abortions in Washington in 2020 (Fig. 1). The state saw a decrease of total abortions by two percent and an increase in chemical abortion by 10.2 percent. The Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) estimates that Washington’s abortion rate declined by three percent between 2019 and 2020 (Fig. 2).
State Report Summary
In 2020, like 2019, 95 percent of the abortions reported in Washington were performed on state residents. An additional five percent were performed on women from out-of-state or of unknown residency including 53 abortions on Alaska residents, 371 on Idaho residents, and 252 on Oregon residents.
Ten percent of the abortions reported in Washington were performed on girls ages 19 and younger, including 0.2 percent on girls under the age of 15. Over half, 54 percent, of the abortions were on women in their twenties, with 28 percent on women ages 20 to 24 and 26 percent on women ages 25 to 29. Thirty-two percent of the abortions were on women in their thirties, and four percent were on women ages 40 or older. Age was not reported for 28 abortions.
Forty-seven percent of the abortions were obtained by women with no previous live births. Twenty-two percent were on women with one prior live birth, and 31 percent were on women with two or more. Sixty percent of the abortions were performed on women with no prior abortions, while 23 percent were on women with one prior abortion and 17 percent were on women with more than one. The number of previous live births and previous abortions was not reported for 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
In 2020, 43 percent of the abortions reported in Washington occurred at six weeks of gestation or earlier. Thirty-eight percent were performed between seven and nine weeks, and 11 percent occurred between 10 and 13 weeks. Three percent of the abortions were performed from 14 to 15 weeks, and two percent were reported between 16 and 17 weeks of gestation. Two percent were performed between 18 and 20 weeks. There were 346 abortions, two percent of the state total, reported at 21 weeks of gestation or later. Gestational age was not reported for 0.2 percent of the abortions in 2020.
Fifty-five percent of Washington abortions were chemical, with chemical abortions at or before nine weeks of gestation making up the vast majority. Forty-five percent were surgical procedures, with 37 percent occurring at or before 13 weeks of gestation and eight percent occurring after 13 weeks of gestation. There were zero intrauterine instillation or hysterectomy/hysterotomy abortions reported.
Following the 2022 United States Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) joined the California and Oregon governors in launching a multi-state commitment to “reproductive freedom.” The commitment affirms the West Coast as an abortion destination and asserts the three states’ refusal to cooperate with laws in other states that protect unborn babies and women from abortion.
In October 2022, Inslee’s office announced that he and Democratic lawmakers were going to start rolling out their pro-abortion agenda for the 2023 legislative session. One lawmaker plans to put forth a “sanctuary policy” to prevent the prosecution of providers who perform abortions in Washington. The policy would also prevent women from being prosecuted, although no pro-life state laws permit the prosecution of women who obtain abortions. Two other representatives, in partnership with the Washington Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, announced that they will put forth a bill that prohibits the collection, sharing, and selling of “health data” by non-health care organizations. Furthermore, Inslee pledged one million dollars in emergency funds to be available for abortion centers and directed the Washington State Patrol to refuse to comply with other states’ agency investigations related to abortion.
In a CLI paper surveying abortion reporting across the country in 2016, Washington’s reporting was tied for 19th best. To improve its reporting, Washington could begin by validating its data and ensuring that all abortions are reported. Estimates from the Guttmacher Institute suggest that abortions in Washington are underreported (Figures 1 and 2). Since the state may see an increase in chemical abortions, which have a higher complication rate than surgical abortions, Washington could pay particular attention to its complication data and require reporting from emergency rooms and doctor’s offices that encounter abortion complications. Washington could also release full reports with all of the data it provides to CDC on its Pregnancy and Abortion dashboard when it releases total counts and age data.
- The Washington State Department of Health confirmed to CLI that previous Washington State abortion reports have contained errors in which tables were copied over from the prior year. Consequently, all abortion numbers were taken from the CDC reports.
- Rates were calculated by CLI using the following formula: (total number of abortions performed in Washington ÷ 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. 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.