Pregnancy terminations plummet following state ban 

By RealWV staff,

In September 2022, a ban on abortion in West Virginia became law after passage by the state legislature. The ban did include narrow exceptions in specific circumstances named in law. The first glimpse into the effects of that law are becoming public now with the release of an annual statistical report focused on abortion in the state. 

State law (§16-5-22) requires health care practitioners to report all induced terminations of pregnancy (ITOP) to the West Virginia Health Statistics Center. The data elements required to be collected include:

●       Gestational age of the fetus;

●       State and county of residence of the patient;

●       Age of the patient;

●       Type of medical or surgical procedure performed;

●       Method of payment for the procedure;

●       Whether birth defects were known, and if so, what birth defects;

●       Date the termination was performed; and

●       The exception contained in W. Va. Code §16-2R-3 under which the termination was performed.

Overall for the year, pregnancy terminations were down by 47%. In the final quarter of the year after the ban became law, only 6 pregnancy terminations occurred in the state. Two occurred due to medical emergencies and four occurred due to ectopic pregnancies where the fetus was not viable outside the womb. 

Below are several key data points from the full report: 

  • 831 pregnancies were terminated in 2022, 6 of which occurred after the ban due to being granted an exemption. 
  • 78% of people terminating pregnancy were WV residents. 12% were from Ohio. 8% from Kentucky.
  • Of WV residents, pregnancy termination by place of residence had the greatest concentration in the most populated counties. In order, these were the top 10 counties in terms of the number of abortions: Kanawha, Cabell, Raleigh, Wood, Harrison, Fayette, Monongalia, Mercer, Putnam, Jackson.
  • 60% of pregnancies were terminated in people in their 20s. 78% of all terminated pregnancies were in people ages 20-35. All of the post-ban pregnancies were in this age range.
  • 65% of all pregnancies were terminated at less than 8 weeks. 93% were terminated at less than 13 weeks (in the first trimester). Only 1% of pregnancies pre-ban were terminated at 16-20 weeks. 2020 & 2021 data matched these trends, with 90-92% occurring in the first trimester.
  • Termination methods were nearly evenly split between surgical and non-surgical methods.
  • Post-ban, insurance coverage was evenly split between private insurance and Medicaid. Pre-ban, 99% of payment for pregnancy termination was self-pay.
  • Four of the six terminated pregnancies after the ban were ectopic pregnancies, one was a medical emergency due to obstetric hemorrhage, and one was due to advanced malignancy.

Questions regarding the content of this report should be directed to the West Virginia Health Statistics Center:

         Birgit A. Shanholtzer, Director

West Virginia Health Statistics Center

         350 Capitol Street, Room 165

         Charleston, West Virginia 25301-2701

         (304) 558-2931


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