California State Capitol Building in Sacramento, CA. Photo credit: David Monniaux (CC-By-SA 3.0)
California State Capitol Building in Sacramento, CA.
Photo credit: David Monniaux (CC-By-SA 3.0)
California State Capitol Building in Sacramento, CA. Photo credit: David Monniaux (CC-By-SA 3.0)
The state of California has one of the highest abortion rates, but a poor reporting system.
Photo credit: David Monniaux (CC-By-SA 3.0)

(Washington, DC) A new paper by Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) president Chuck Donovan and CLI research assistant Rebecca Gonzales details the findings of a systematic, state-by-state review of abortion reporting practices in the United States and underscores the need for more rapid and more consistent data collection to inform public policy related to abortion.

“Abortion reporting in the United States has chronic issues. Our voluntary system has created a patchwork of difficult-to-access or entirely missing information,” Donovan explains. “Beyond the obvious value for women facing a life-altering decision, there is value for all sides of the debate in having access to the best possible data; truly responsive public policy depends on it. We should not have to wait years for even a partial national report – we should be able to assess the impact of policies like pain-capable unborn child protection legislation and expansion of medication abortion within months.”

The paper, Abortion Reporting: Toward a Better National Standard, compares the scope, timeliness, and transparency of states’ abortion data reporting and calculates for each state a score from 0 (worst) to 100 (best). Key findings include:

  • Oklahoma scored highest (77), followed by Minnesota (76), Arizona (67), Ohio (67), and Indiana (66)
  • Seven states (California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Wyoming) publish no annual report and tied for a zero score
  • Poor reporting was found in several states or jurisdictions that also have relatively high abortion rates (New York, Maryland, District of Columbia, New Jersey, Florida, and California)
  • The 12 states with the highest abortion rates in the country all scored in the bottom third for reporting quality

Minnesota, which achieved the second best score, stood out for producing its annual report at a cost of only $4,000. It is the only state to publish an estimate of the cost of its annual report.

“Minnesota, which we consider a model for the country, proves that good reporting need not be costly or burdensome,” continued Donovan. “If 25 or 30 states would adopt similar practices, it would be a significant improvement. Abortion and abortion policies impact thousands of mothers and families every day. That’s why abortion policy ought to be grounded on the most accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date statistical information and health data. Unfortunately, after 42 years and over 55 million abortions since the Roe v. Wade decision, the United States still doesn’t have a timely and streamlined system to prepare and publish state abortion reports and national summaries.”

Read the paper below:

Charlotte Lozier Institute is a hub for research and public policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States and nations around the world. CLI’s American Reports Series presents analysis of issues affecting the United States at the national level. These reports are intended to provide insight into various issues concerning life, science, and bioethics.

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