A Sobering Look at the 2016 Nebraska Abortion Statistics

Friday, 23 June 2017 - Under Nebraska state law, every abortion performed in our state must be reported by the attending abortionist through a reporting form to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”). This report includes a variety of information (e.g., age of the mother, type of procedure performed, reason for the abortion, etc.). DHHS compiles this information and issues an annual report. These annual reports date back to 1974. Recently, DHHS issued its “2016 Statistical Report of Abortions” (full reports accessible at http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/pages/ced_vs.aspx).

While it is sobering to read, the annual report offers an opportunity to better understand the scope of abortion in Nebraska, which informs our outreach and prayer efforts. This article summarizes some of the categories of information provided in the report.

Total Number of Abortions. Tragically, 1,907 babies were killed by induced abortions in 2016. This number represents a 4.8% decrease when compared to the 2015 total of 2,004, and a 70% decrease when compared to the 1990 total of 6,346 which represents the high-water mark for abortions in Nebraska. 

Notably, the DHHS abortion statistics do not capture other abortions we know are occurring through over-the-counter abortion pills and abortifacient contraceptives (e.g., Plan B, Ella, Depo-Provera).

Mother’s Age. The modal age—the age at which most abortions occurred—was 25, though the number of abortions for each year between age 21 and 26 are substantially the same. Young women between 20 and 29 accounted for nearly 60% (1,123) of abortions. 32% (610) of abortions occurred with women over the age of 30. Teenage girls accounted for just under 10% of abortions. Most saddening was the fact that 18 girls age 15 and under had abortions.

Mother’s Marital Status. 75% (1,447) of abortions were procured by women who have never been married, while 15% (293) of abortions were procured by women who were married.

Mother’s Race & Ancestry. White women accounted for approximately 60% (1,193) of abortions, whereas 18% (348) of abortions were procured by black/African American women. Hispanic women were listed as 14% (260) of abortions. 

First-Time & Repeat Abortions. Most abortions were first-time abortions, totaling 65% (1,249) of abortions. Around 25% (443) were second-time abortions. Around 12% (216) of abortions were performed on women who had three or more previous abortions.

Live Births Before Abortion. Nearly 62% (1,176) of women who obtained an abortion had already given birth to a child, whereas 38% (731) of women never had a child before.

Reasons for Abortions. The reasons for abortion varied, but the top three reasons were no contraception used (46%—886), contraceptive failure (16%—310), and socioeconomic (7%—130). In 28% of abortions the mother declined to provide a reason. The remaining abortions occurred because of maternal physical health (46), fetal anomaly (22) mental health (17), maternal life endangered (15), sexual assault (14), and incest (1). 

Abortion Procedures Used. Two abortion methods account for nearly all abortions. The most common method was medication-induced (i.e., chemical) abortions which resulted in 50% (956) of abortions. A decade ago, chemical abortion amounted to less than 2% (43) of abortions. In 2010, medication-induced abortions gained prominence at 30% (746) of abortions. Notably, 2015 marked the first year that medication-induced abortions were the most common abortion method. The suction curettage method was a close second at 45% (858) of abortions. The remaining abortions (93) were mostly by dismemberment (dilation and evacuation or D&E) and partial-birth abortion (dilation and extraction or D&X). 

Gestational Age of Unborn Child. Nearly all abortions occurred within the first 12 weeks (or first trimester) of pregnancy, totaling 1,731 (91%) abortions. Within this period, most abortions (1,129) occurred during the fourth through eighth week of pregnancy.

Living Mercy. While the annual report provides raw data, we must live the works of mercy by reaching out to post-abortive women and extending the love of Christ and His Church.

We know that abortion hurts women (and men) physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. As we reflect and mourn, pray for healing. Continue to promote the work of healing ministries such as Project Rachel and Rachel’s Vineyard. We commend all this work to the Most Sacred and Merciful Heart of Jesus!