Arizona’s annual abortion report for 2018 shows that total abortions in the Grand Canyon State experienced little change between 2017 and 2018. However, the makeup of abortion procedures used in the state continued to show a significant increase – almost 10 percent – in the number of abortions performed by chemical means. The report was published online by the Arizona Department of Health Services in October 2019.
Abortion Totals and Trends
There were 12,438 abortions reported in Arizona in 2018, of which 12,362 were performed on Arizona residents. The number of reported abortions changed very little between 2017 and 2018; total abortions declined by 0.8 percent, and resident abortions increased by 0.2 percent (Fig. 1). However, chemical abortions performed on Arizona resident women increased by almost 10 percent between 2017 and 2018, from 4,530 in 2017 to 4,970 in 2018. Chemical abortions composed 40 percent of all resident abortions in 2018. The Charlotte Lozier Institute estimates that Arizona’s abortion rate was 9.0 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 in 2018, down from 9.2 the previous year and lower than the national rate (Fig. 2).
State Report Summary
Ninety-nine percent of the abortions reported in Arizona in 2018 were performed on state residents. Most of the information in the annual abortion report is for resident abortions only. More than half of the abortions performed on resident women, 58 percent, were performed on young women in their twenties. Thirty percent were on women ages 20 to 24, and 28 percent were on women ages 25 to 29. Twenty-nine percent were performed on women in their thirties. Nine percent of Arizona resident abortions were performed on girls under the age of 20 and four percent on women age 40 or older. The youngest girl to obtain an abortion was 11, and the oldest woman was 56.
Non-Hispanic white women made up the largest racial category undergoing abortions in Arizona. Thirty-nine percent of the resident abortions were performed on non-Hispanic white women, while 10 percent were on African American women. Four percent were performed on Asian or Pacific Islander women, and three percent were on American Indian women. Thirty-eight percent of the resident abortions were performed on Hispanic women. Two percent were performed on women of multiple races and four percent were on women whose race was not reported.
A large majority of the resident abortions, 86 percent, were performed on unmarried women, and 14 percent were on married women. Eight percent had 11 years of education or fewer, while 20 percent had completed 12 years of schooling. An additional 20 percent had 13 to 16 years of education, and four percent had 17 years or more. However, education was not reported for almost half the resident women obtaining abortions (48 percent).
Seventy percent of the women undergoing abortions had previously experienced pregnancy. Twenty-one percent had one previous live birth, and 34 percent had two or more, compared to 24 percent who had one prior abortion and 11 percent who had more than one previous abortion. Nineteen percent had previously suffered a miscarriage. Forty-four percent had no previous live births, and 64 percent had no previous abortions.
The majority of the resident abortions reported in Arizona (88 percent) occurred in the first trimester. Thirty percent were performed at six weeks of gestation, and 35 percent occurred between seven and eight weeks. Sixteen percent were performed between nine and 10 weeks and seven percent between 11 and 12 weeks of gestation. Six percent were performed between 13 and 15 weeks and four percent between 16 and 19 weeks of gestation. There were 77 abortions (0.6 percent) performed at 20 weeks and 135 abortions (one percent) performed at 21 weeks of gestation or later. In 2012, Arizona prohibited abortions after 20 weeks of gestation to protect pain-capable babies, but the law was blocked by a federal court decision. Currently, abortion in Arizona is permitted until viability.
In 2018, 60 percent of the abortions performed on Arizona residents were performed using surgical methods, and 40 percent were chemical abortions. Nationally, chemical abortions make up approximately 39 percent of all abortions. In Arizona, the fewest abortions occurred in November (seven percent) and the most occurred in March (11 percent).
There were approximately 47 abortions that were performed for maternal indications. The majority of these, 28 abortions, were performed between 14 and 20 weeks of gestation. Eleven of these abortions were at 13 weeks or earlier and eight abortions at 21 weeks or later. The majority (62 percent) were on women age 30 or older. Twenty-two of the abortions were performed due to premature rupture of membranes and eight because of a pre-pregnancy medical condition. The remainder were due to anatomical abnormality, chorioamnionitis, HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelet count syndrome) or preeclampsia, or another condition, although fewer than six abortions were performed for each of these reasons and the precise numbers were suppressed.
There were 104 abortions that were performed for fetal indications. Similar to the abortions performed for maternal indications, the majority (66 abortions) were performed on women age 30 or older. Fourteen of the abortions were performed at 13 weeks or earlier, 70 abortions were performed between 14 and 20 weeks, and 20 abortions were performed at 21 weeks or later. The most common reason, given for 42 of the abortions, was that the baby had the wrong number of chromosomes (aneuploidy, trisomy, or triploidy). Twelve abortions were performed because the babies had cardiac defects and 11 because the babies had multiple anomalies. In nine cases, the baby had a central nervous system anomaly, and in an additional nine cases the baby had a musculoskeletal abnormality. Six abortions were performed because of oligohydramnios or anhydramnios (problems with the amniotic fluid) or urological problems.
Arizona requires medical professionals to report abortion-related complications they encounter. Approximately 20 abortions were reported to result in complications in 2018.1 This is a much lower complication rate than that found by large, comprehensive studies, indicating that complications may have gone unreported. In 2017, a Planned Parenthood Arizona whistleblower who noticed a disturbing uptick in serious complications was fired after she brought her concerns to Planned Parenthood leadership. A jury later awarded her $3 million for wrongful termination.
Abortion facilities in Arizona are required to report on what is done with the bodies of babies killed by abortion. The vast majority (99 percent) of the abortion reporting forms submitted in 2018 noted that “Tissue was not donated in part or whole.” Of the remaining 82 babies, 77 were delivered to a mortuary to be buried or cremated. Fewer than six were disposed of using another unspecified method, although the exact number was suppressed. No babies were reported to have been gifted or donated.
In Arizona, parental consent must be obtained before a minor girl may undergo an abortion. In 2018, there were 33 petitions submitted requesting a judicial waiver to bypass the parental consent requirement. Thirty-two of the petitions were approved. The report notes that while a petition may be filed in one year, it might not be resolved until the following year.
Arizona has strong protections for babies who are born alive during abortions. All medical staff present at the abortion must sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, that the baby was not born alive. If the baby is born alive, all available actions must be taken to keep the baby alive, and the doctor must report the care that was provided. In 2018, 12 babies were born alive in Arizona, although the report does not provide details on what happened to the babies. The Arizona Department of Health Services informed CLI that the babies’ ages ranged from seven to 19 weeks of gestation and that none of the infants survived.
Planned Parenthood Arizona Lawsuit
Some of Arizona’s pro-life laws have been challenged by the abortion industry. Planned Parenthood is suing the state, seeking to overturn laws that prohibit the administration of chemical abortion drugs via telemedicine, establish that only physicians may perform abortions, and require a waiting period to ensure that women can give informed consent before undergoing abortions. Planned Parenthood argues that because of the laws, they performed just 60 percent of the total abortions they performed in 2011. Abortionists have challenged similar laws in other states, including Virginia, where a judge upheld the state’s informed consent law and physician-only law.
In the Charlotte Lozier Institute’s 2016 survey of abortion reporting in the United States, Arizona’s reporting tied for 3rd best. Since then, Arizona has improved its reporting further. Arizona’s 2019 report will include additional information on the reasons for abortions performed in the state, the facilities where abortions are performed, the types of complications caused by abortion, and the state’s informed consent process. The report will also describe the total amount of state funds used to pay for abortions both in Arizona and on Arizona residents in other states.
- Statistics on abortion complications reported here represent a minimal number of deaths and complications, as this data is collected in a non-systematic and non-verifiable way. As such, this data cannot be used to calculate either an accurate abortion mortality rate or an accurate abortion complication rate for the state.
- Starting with the 2018 abortion reports, abortion rates are calculated by the Charlotte Lozier Institute to allow for easier state-to-state and year-to-year comparisons. Rates were calculated by CLI using population estimates from the United States Census Bureau. The rates were calculated using the following formula: (total number of abortions performed in Arizona ÷ number of resident women ages 15-44) x 1,000. Rates may differ slightly from previous CLI articles due to revised population estimates and abortion totals.
LifeNews Note: Tessa Longbons writes for the Charlotte Lozier Institute.