Trends in Abortion Incidence and Availability in North Carolina, 1980–2013
Abortion incidence has declined nationally during the last decade. In recent years, many states, including North Carolina, have passed legislation related to the provision of abortion services. Despite the changing political environment, there is no comprehensive analysis on past and current trends related to unintended pregnancy and abortion in North Carolina.Methods
This study is a secondary analysis of vital registration data made publicly available by the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics. Birth and induced abortion records were obtained for the years 1980 to 2013. We describe abortion incidence and demographic characteristics of women obtaining abortions over time.Results
The number of North Carolina abortions declined 36% between 1980 and 2013. The abortion ratio declined from 26/100 pregnancies (live births and abortions) in 1980 to just 14/100 in 2013. These ratios, however, vary across demographic subgroups. In 2013, the abortion ratio was more than 2 times greater for non-Hispanic black women than non-Hispanic white women (22 and 9, respectively). Among non-Hispanic black and Hispanic women, the abortion ratio is greater among women with a previous pregnancy as compared with women in their first pregnancy. For non-Hispanic white women, the abortion ratios are similar for first and higher-order pregnancies.Conclusions
Trends in North Carolina are similar to national trends; however, detailed analyses by race/ethnicity, age, and parity demonstrate important distinctions among abortion patients over time in the state. We discuss these trends in relation to policy changes and increased access to effective contraceptives.