February 27, 2023
Collecting abortion data has always been difficult: People are often unwilling to share their experiences with researchers, and the United States has no centralized count of abortions performed. Every state collects data differently, and some refuse to share it with federal researchers due to privacy concerns. Sometimes researchers have to estimate abortion incidence based on historical trends because up-to-date data isn’t available.
It’s a challenge with broad implications for information on reproductive health, one that has been compounded by the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which allowed states to ban abortion. Less accurate abortion data means less information to share with policymakers about the impacts of restrictions — but also spills over into many areas of public health.