Nebraska’s 2020 abortion report was published in June 2021. Abortions in the Cornhusker State increased from 2019.
Abortion Totals and Trends
In 2020, there were 2,378 abortions reported in Nebraska. This was an increase of 15 percent from the 2,068 reported the previous year (Fig. 1). Chemical abortions jumped by 34 percent from 1,259 in 2019 to 1,683 in 2020, making up 71 percent of all abortions. Nebraska’s abortion rate increased to 6.4 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age, according to Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) estimates (Fig. 2). Among the 16 states that have released 2020 abortion statistics, nine states reported that abortions increased from 2019.
State Report Summary
In 2020, 84 percent of the abortions reported in Nebraska were performed on state residents, while 16 percent were performed on women from other states, a higher percentage than the previous year. Eleven percent of Nebraska abortions were performed on girls younger than 20, including three percent on girls under the age of 18. Fifty-eight percent of the abortions were obtained by women in their twenties (30 percent on women ages 20 to 24, and 28 percent on women ages 25 to 29). Twenty-seven percent of Nebraska abortions were performed on women in their thirties, and four percent were on women ages 40 and older.
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Multiple races can be reported for each abortion in Nebraska. In 2020, 63 percent of the abortions were performed on white women, and 17 percent were on black women. Two percent were on Native American women, and four percent each were on Asian women and women of other races. The total number of races reported (2,148) was slightly higher than the number of abortions for which race was reported (2,112). Race was not reported for 266 abortions, or 11 percent.
Nine percent of Nebraska abortions were performed on women with less than a high school education. Forty-one percent were on women who reported that high school was their highest completed level of education, and 32 percent were on women who had attended some college. Thirteen percent were obtained by women with a college degree. Education status was not reported for six percent of the abortions reported in Nebraska.
Seventy-one percent of the abortions were performed on women who had been pregnant before. Forty percent of the abortions were on women who previously had an abortion, with 24 percent performed on women with one prior abortion and 16 percent on women with more than one. Twenty-two percent of Nebraska abortions were on women with one previous live birth, and 40 percent were on women with two or more prior live births. Eighty-five percent of the abortions were obtained by unmarried women, and 13 percent were on married or separated women. Marital status was not reported for two percent.
In 2020, Nebraska enacted a law to prohibit dilation and evacuation (dismemberment) abortions; zero of these procedures were reported in 2020. There were 69 dilation and extraction abortions. The majority of the abortions reported in Nebraska (71 percent) were chemical. Because of the low number of second-trimester surgical abortion procedures reported, it is possible that some second-trimester abortions were induced chemically. Twenty-six percent of the abortions were conducted via suction curettage, and one additional abortion was performed using another, unspecified abortion procedure.
Forty percent of Nebraska abortions were performed at six weeks of gestation or earlier. Thirty percent were performed between seven and eight weeks, and 14 percent occurred between nine and 10 weeks of gestation. Six percent each were performed between 11 and 12 weeks and 13 and 15 weeks of gestation. Three percent were reported between 16 and 19 weeks. There were 13 abortions at 20 weeks of gestation (0.5 percent) and 12 abortions at 21 weeks (0.5 percent). Nebraska limits abortion at 20 weeks post-fertilization (approximately 22 weeks of gestation), and zero abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization were reported in 2020.
Four doctors performed abortions in Nebraska in 2020. Two of the doctors performed four abortions between them. The third doctor performed 706 abortions (30 percent of the state total), and the fourth performed 1,668 abortions (70 percent). Abortions were reported to have occurred in three counties in 2020: 43 percent in Douglas County, where one of Nebraska’s two Planned Parenthood abortion centers is located; 27 percent in Lancaster County, the site of the other Planned Parenthood abortion center; and 30 percent in Sarpy County, where an abortion center owned by late-term abortion provider LeRoy Carhart is located. The report does not indicate whether all abortions were performed in abortion centers or if some may have occurred in hospitals or doctor’s offices. The Sarpy County abortion total was relatively unchanged from the previous year, while Lancaster County abortions increased by 20 percent from 2019 and Douglas County abortions rose by 24 percent.
Women undergoing abortions in Nebraska are asked to share their reasons for seeking abortion, and each woman may provide multiple reasons. In 2020, 35 percent of the women declined to give a reason. Twenty percent of all women getting abortions were seeking an abortion due to contraceptive failure, and 35 percent did not use contraception. Six percent of all abortions were performed for socioeconomic reasons, and almost six percent were performed due to the woman’s mental health. Eighty-nine abortions (four percent) were performed because of the mother’s physical health. There were 24 abortions because the unborn baby had an anomaly (one percent), 20 to protect the woman’s life (0.8 percent), 14 due to sexual assault (0.6 percent), and one because of incest.
Sixty-six percent of the unborn babies killed by abortion were less than 50 millimeters long (approximately two inches), while four percent were 50 millimeters or longer. Thirty-one percent of the unborn babies could not be measured. Seventeen percent of the babies weighed less than 100 grams, and four percent weighed 100 grams or more. Seventy-nine percent could not be weighed.
In 2020, parental consent for abortion was obtained for 74 minors, and an exception to the parental consent requirement was made in six cases. The report does not indicate why parental consent was provided for more minors than underwent abortions in Nebraska, but it is possible that some girls did not go on to get abortions. There were eight cases in which Nebraska’s informed consent requirements were waived due to an emergency situation. One abortion-related complication was reported in 2020 (cervical laceration).1
Counties of Residence
Nebraska reports each county in which five or more residents obtained abortions. In 2020, there were 35 counties which had at least five resident women get abortions in Nebraska. Twenty-four of these counties were in Nebraska, eight were in Iowa, and three were in South Dakota. Most of the counties were clustered around the eastern half of Nebraska, where the state’s three abortion centers are located, and 92 percent of Nebraska abortions were performed on residents of these 35 counties. Another eight percent of the abortions were performed on women from other counties.
In CLI’s 2016 paper evaluating abortion reporting across the country, Nebraska’s reporting was ranked at ninth best. As CLI has previously recommended, Nebraska could improve its abortion complication data collection. Chemical abortions have higher complication rates than surgical abortions do, and as chemical abortions in Nebraska rapidly increase, complications are likely to increase as well.
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.
Rates were calculated by CLI using the following formula: (total number of abortions performed in Nebraska ÷ number of resident women ages 15-44) x 1,000. Rates may differ slightly from previous CLI articles due to revised population estimates. Population estimates were obtained from the CDC WONDER database.
LifeNews Note: Tessa Longbons writes for the Charlotte Lozier Institute.
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