The Pennsylvania Abortion Report 2021 was published online by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services in December 2022. The report shows that the number of abortions has increased compared to the previous year.
Statistics and Changes in Abortions in Pennsylvania, 2020-2021
The report does not include information on Planned Parenthood’s abortion market share in Pennsylvania.
Abortion totals and trends
In 2021, 33,206 abortions were reported in Pennsylvania, a three percent increase from 2020. Chemical abortions increased 12 percent and accounted for over half (55 percent) of the state’s total (Fig. 1). The Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) estimates that Pennsylvania’s abortion rate increased three percent to 13.7 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, from 13.3 in 2020. As of January 2023, 28 states have released abortion statistics for 2021, with 20 states reporting increased abortions as of 2020.
Health report summary
In 2021, 93 percent of Pennsylvania abortions were performed on resident women, while 7 percent were performed on out-of-state women, including 3 percent on Delaware women, 2 percent on Ohio women, and 1 percent each on New Jersey and West Virginia Resident. Another 0.5 percent were carried out on women from other federal states.
Eight percent of Pennsylvania abortions were performed on young women under the age of 20, and two percent on girls under the age of 18. Twenty-seven percent of abortions were performed on women ages 20 to 24, and 29 percent were performed on women ages 25 to 29. Thirty-two percent of abortions were performed on women in their 30s. Four percent of abortions in Pennsylvania were performed by women aged 40 and older.
Forty-five percent of Pennsylvania abortions were performed on white women and 44 percent on African-American women. CLI estimates that Pennsylvania’s African-American abortion rate of 43 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 was 5.3 times higher than the white abortion rate of eight abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44. Abortions among Asian women or the Pacific Islands accounted for 3 percent of the total, while 4 percent of abortions were performed on women of multiple races. One percent of abortions were performed on women of other races and three percent on women of unknown race. Eighty-eight percent of the abortions were in non-Hispanic women and 12 percent in Hispanic women.
Eighty-eight percent of Pennsylvania abortions were performed by unmarried women, compared to 11 percent for married women. Less than one percent was performed on women of unknown marital status. Thirty-seven percent of the abortions were performed on women with no previous live births, and 52 percent on women with no previous abortions. Twenty-six percent of Pennsylvania abortions were performed by women with a previous live birth, and 38 percent were women with two or more live births. Twenty-four percent of abortions were performed on women with a prior abortion, and 24 percent were on women with more than one prior abortion.
Over half of the abortions reported in 2021 were chemical (55 percent). Forty percent of the abortions were performed using suction curettage, and four percent were dilation and evacuation procedures. Four abortions with sharp curettage were performed. In addition, there were three hysterectomy or hysterotomy abortions and three abortions with intrauterine instillation, and 56 abortions performed by other means.
More than two-thirds of abortions, 68 percent, occurred at eight weeks gestation or earlier. Sixteen percent were reported between nine and ten weeks gestation, and six percent were performed between eleven and twelve weeks. Four percent occurred between weeks 13 and 14 of pregnancy, three percent between weeks 15 and 17 of pregnancy, and two percent between weeks 18 and 20 of pregnancy. Between 21 and 23 weeks of gestation, 427 abortions (1.3 percent of the total) were performed; no abortions were reported after 24 weeks or later.
At the time of the procedure, five abortion complications were reported, and 159 pregnancies were complicated by pre-existing medical conditions. The report does not specify what those pre-existing conditions were, but Pennsylvania law lists hydatid moles, endocervical polyps, malignancies, radiation exposure, genetic indications, psychological indications, rape, incest, and rubella as possible examples.
Separately, 322 abortion complications were reported after the abortion procedure, a 35 percent increase from 2020. More than half (56 percent) of these resulted from a chemical abortion, while 27 percent were caused by suction curettage procedures and seven percent by dilatation and evacuation abortions. Six percent of complications resulted from sharp curettage procedures, although only four were performed in 2021; It is possible that some complications were caused by abortions performed in the previous year or in other states. Four percent of the complications were caused by other or unknown abortion methods. Almost three quarters (74 percent) of the complications were placental products, 13 percent bleeding and six percent infections. Seven percent were some other type of complication.1
In the 2016 CLI analysis of abortion reporting in the 50 states, New York City and the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania’s reporting ranked 23rdapprox Best. Pennsylvania could report data from the quarterly abortion reports filed by facilities that receive public funding under Pennsylvania law.
- Abortion complication statistics reported here represent a minimal number of deaths and complications because these data are collected in a non-systematic and unverifiable manner. Therefore, these data cannot be used to calculate an accurate abortion mortality rate nor an accurate abortion complication rate for the state.
- The annual totals of chemical abortions performed in Pennsylvania in 2005, 2006, and 2007 were taken from abortion surveillance reports published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because they were not reported by the state for those years.
- Rates were calculated by CLI using the following formula: (total number of abortions performed in Pennsylvania ÷ number of resident women ages 15 to 44) x 1,000. Rates may vary 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 1 July resident population. 2010-2019 estimates are vintage 2020 postcensal estimates of July 1 resident population. 2020–2021 estimates are vintage 2021 postcensal estimates of July 1 resident population. Estimates were prepared by the US Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics.
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