The number of abortions performed in Georgia increased by more than 2,100 — or more than 7% — last year, according to new numbers from the state Department of Public Health.
After falling over the past decade, 2019 marked the second consecutive year the rate of reported abortions performed increased in Georgia.
The latest figures, for 2019, were released less than two weeks after a federal judge struck down Georgia’s restrictive anti-abortion law that would have banned the procedure in most cases when a doctor could detect fetal cardiac activity — typically about six weeks into a pregnancy.
State records show 30,656 abortions were performed in 2019 at a rate of 9.2 abortions per 1,000 females between the ages of 10 and 55, according to numbers published this month in the DPH’s vital statistics database. That is 2,122 more abortions than were reported in 2018, when 28,544 abortions were performed at a rate of 8.6 abortions per 1,000 females.
The number of births in Georgia slightly increased, with 126,051 reported in 2018 and 126,250 in 2019.
According to U.S. census figures, Georgia added about 100,000 residents between 2018 and 2019.
After years of decline, the number of abortions also jumped from 2017 to 2018 by nearly 4%.
Virginia Galloway, a lobbyist with the anti-abortion Georgia Faith and Freedom Coalition, said she was sad to learn the numbers were continuing to increase.
“We’ve accepted this culture of death that is permeating our society, and this year is not helping,” she said. “There’s more people who are depressed and committing suicide, so I can only imagine how horrifying the (abortion) numbers may be for 2020.”
Kwajelyn Jackson, the executive director of the Feminist Women’s Health Center, an abortion provider, said while she has not studied the data, having public discussions about abortion decreases the stigma some might feel if they are considering getting the procedure.
“As more people consider health risks and the conversation about maternal death and maternal mortality, there’s the possibility that people are taking their health care very seriously and that people may reconsider going through a pregnancy that may put them at risk,” Jackson said. “Women who might have, under other circumstances, just subsumed themselves to patriarchal ideas about motherhood and family and obligation may be considering things differently.”
While the number of abortions performed in Georgia has trended downward over about 25 years, there was a similar spike in 2016, when the number of procedures jumped by nearly 3,000.
The abortion count has dropped by nearly 8.5% since 1994, due mostly to increased access to various forms of birth control, experts say. Georgia had a population of about 7 million in 1994, according to census figures. By 2019, that had risen to 10.6 million.
Anti-abortion activists have questioned the accuracy of state numbers, alleging that procedures done by OB-GYNs aren’t accurately reported and that more are performed. A DPH spokeswoman said the law requires providers to report all abortions performed in the state.
Georgia passed a strict anti-abortion law last year, which supporters said was an attempt to further decrease the number of abortions that are performed in the state.
A federal judge stopped the law from ever going into effect before striking it down earlier this month. The state plans to appeal the ruling.